Fushimi Inari, the mountain sanctuary
In the intimate morning hours, your guide will take you up one of Kyoto's sacred hills: Mount Inari, a sanctuary where nature itself is "kami", a Shinto deity.
Thousands of doors
The Fushimi Inari Taisha (or Great Shrine of Fushimi Inari), is of course primarily the path of thousands of Shinto gates: torii in Japanese. Having become one of Kyoto's emblems, the site boasts the largest number of torii in all of Japan: more than 3,000! Your guide will explain the symbolism of these red gates with their distinctive shape and why they continue to be the object of offerings from donors from all over Japan.
The legend of Inari and the origins of Shintoism
But the Fushimi Inari Taisha is also - first and foremost - a Shinto shrine dedicated to the mountain itself: Mount Inari. Or should we say: a mountain that counts as a shrine. During this pilgrimage-like visit, you will learn more about Shintoism, a spirituality as old as the Japanese people and which is still very much alive today.
You will understand how Shintoism, originally the cult of nature and its kami, has taken many different forms over the years, including that of the famous Inari, a kami represented by two foxes, its messengers, and today associated with rice and prosperity. Through clear, precise explanations, you will better understand the relationship between the Japanese and nature and why the gods are still very present in the minds of the Japanese today.
Trees are also sacred
Your guide will also tell you about the trees: cedars, Japanese cypresses, maples as well as the endemic species encountered on the hillside. You will understand why each cedar in the forest is considered a kami and why, even today, the trees of Mount Inari are the soul of the shrine.
An intimate walk at your own pace
Your guide will meet you at the exit to JR Inari Station, 5 minutes from Kyoto Central Station, at 8:00 am to enjoy the shrine before the tourists arrive and to visit it in perfect conditions for taking pictures.
The Fushimi Inari is free of charge, so just bring a snack for yourself along the way. The walk to the top of Inari Hill (233m) is not particularly difficult. There is a break along the way, which you can take at your own pace.
Later in the morning, your tour guide will tell you where to eat in the vicinity of the Fushimi Inari. Finally, your tour guide will give you tips for the rest of your day in Kyoto.