This seemingly never-ending orange/red structure is a must-see while visiting Japan. The red gates are located in Kyoto, the older side of Japan. Tokyo is busy and fun but Kyoto transports you to old Japan where you can still see geisha walking the streets in some parts of the Kyoto Prefecture. Fushimi Inari-taisha is where you’ll find the famous orange gates of Kyoto. These gates are impressive, from the moment you step into them until you reach the summit of the mountain which they climb.
There’s so many visitors at this tourist attraction at any time on any day of the week. If you want it at it’s quietest, go at sunrise. For others like ourselves, we joined the hoards of people and went in the middle of the day. We caught a bus, from near where we were staying in Kyoto, which dropped us off only a short walk from the Fushimi Inari-taishi gates.
Red Gates – Kyoto – An experience …
As you head up towards the gates, there are food and souvenir stalls lining both sides of the path. The prices are quite steep for the fare on offer, so take enough cash or be prepared and pack a bag of goodies to take with you. There are plenty of vending machines with cold drinks at fairly reasonable prices. If it’s a hot and sunny day, you’re only going to feel the full blast of the sun at the beginning, where the shrines and stalls are. When you start your climb through the gates, there’s a lot of shaded areas.
When you first enter the Fushimi Inari-taishi gates, you’re going to feel a little squished with the hundreds of others who are doing the same. It’s worth making it all the way to the summit as most of the visitors give up and turn around as the climb is quite steep, requiring a little bit of fitness. We did notice one stylish lady making the climb in some very high heels! Personally, a pair of sneakers was a better option. Our little 6yr old found the climb to the summit fine, with plenty of little breaks. The toilets are far and few when you near the top, making it a little tricky with the little ones. Best not to give them too much lemonade to drink while they walk!
Travel & Relax
We made a little pit-stop at a restaurant half-way up the mountain to enjoy some lunch and relax. They have a very limited menu, with some Inari sushi (rice wrapped in fried tofu) and udon noodle soups on offer. It’s so peaceful up there and you get a lovely view of the surrounding bushland from the window table, so it’s worth dining there. At one stage, we walked off the main track and found ourselves in a stunning bamboo forest! There is a proper path towards it from the gates. It’s sometimes worth taking a detour as you never know what you’ll discover.
The weather in early June is just right for sight-seeing around Japan. We had temperatures of low 20’s to 30 degrees most days, which made walking around not too unpleasant. Mosquitos were a little bit of a problem in Kyoto at that time, but if you stayed along the track with it wasn’t a problem. We reached the summit without breaking into too much of a sweat but the easy walk down was a relief.
Make sure you have a look at my other travel blog posts from Japan: