Fushimi Inari Shrine

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Place Category: AttractionsPlace Tags: historic building, kyoto, and shrine

  • Profile

    Fushimi Inari Shrine

    Fushimi Inari Shrine is an iconic site in Kyoto with thousands of torii gates that wind up a forested mountain. With a bit of effort, visitors in wheelchairs can see the first stretch of the path and the first two shrines.

    Background Information

    Founded in the early 700s and covering an entire mountain, Fushimi Inari is one of Kyoto’s largest and oldest Shinto shrines. The buildings you can see there today are from later periods, but the shrine grounds were been spared from the fires that ravaged Kyoto throughout the centuries, so the complex retains a very traditional layout and atmosphere.

    The Fushimi neighborhood surrounding the shrine is well known for its clear water, making it a center for sake production. This is a fitting location for the shrine, as the goddess enshrined here is an ancient rice deity connected to business, agriculture, and – of course – alcohol. Pairs of fox statues cover the mountain, animal messengers of the rice goddess after whom the mountain is named.

    And make no mistake about the size of this complex; it is a mountain. Most visitors come here to see the tunnels of thousands of orange torii gates that snake up the hillside. The full hike through the tunnels can take hours and involves numerous steps and slopes, but making your way through the first few sets of gates and into the inner okusha shrine will give you can excellent taste of what the mountain has to offer.

    Fushimi Inari Shrine is open 24/7 year round. It gets extremely busy during the day, but arriving before 9am or after 4pm usually allows for thinner crowds.

    Getting There

    You can get to Fushimi Inari Shrine via JR Inari Station located right next to the shrine, or Fushimi Inari Station (Keihan Main Line) which is a short walk from the shrine. Both stations are wheelchair accessible.

    Accessibility

    As mentioned above, the best strategy for visiting Fushimi Inari Shrine is to go outside of peak hours. The crowds can be a bit overwhelming and make it difficult to move around.

    Before going to the rows of torii gates, you should visit the main shrine. The path from the main gate to the temple is smooth and easy to move on, but there is a set of stairs leading up to the main shrine hall. Heading to the left there are two other sets of stairs, but this time built with ramps. Unfortunately, the ramps are a bit steep and wheelchair users may want some assistance to get up.

    Ramp up stairs to Fushimi Inari Shrine

    Once at the main shrine hall area, there are a few buildings to see including the shrine itself and a stage for traditional dances. The area has flagstone paths, but there are areas of gravel as well. Thankfully most of the gravel has a net under it so you will not sink in if you use a wheelchair.

    Fushimi Inari Shrine main hall

    To go to the paths with the torii gates, wheelchair users cannot take the normal route but must backtrack to the bottom of the two ramps and then take a detour around the shrine:

    Back route map for Fushimi Inari Shrine

    While not a ramp, there is a set of very shallow steps that are only a few centimeters high and widely spaced. It is not ideal, but it is possible to use them in a wheelchair with a bit of help.

    Small steps to get to torii gates at Fushimi Inari Shrine

    Once up the steps you can join the line through the gates part way and make your way to the inner okusha shrine.

    Line to go through gates at Fushimi Inari Shrine

    Unfortunately, the paths begin to climb the mountain and are made of stairs. Those who canot climb stairs will need to return. The paths are directional, so after passing through the path heading upwards to get to the inner shrine, you can return down the other path which is less crowded and makes for better pictures.

    Fushimi Inari Shrine return path

    There are a few paths that can be partly explored near the inner shrine, but most are rough and quickly become impassible in a wheelchair.

    Path on mountain of Fushimi Inari Shrine

    An accessible toilet is available at the train station and the lower part of the shrine.

    Conclusion

    While a large part of the mountain is out of reach to visitors with mobility needs, it is still possible to take pictures in the famous torii gates with a bit of effort and the help of one or two people. Since the shrine grounds are open 24hrs, it may be best to avoid the crowds and visit before 9am or after 4pm.

    Credits

    Special thanks: Accessible Japan would like to offer a heartfelt thanks to:

     

    Volunteer contribution help many interested visitors. Thank you!

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