The Alternative Fushimi Inari Walking Tour


Dragons. Waterfalls. Political control. The Fushimi Inari Shrine is so more than its famous torii gates. Most people are satisfied by a scenic view of Kyoto and the forested trails through the mountain. We'll go through the main shrine, but we'll also go deeper. Much deeper.

What we’ll do

Visit tree gods and get your divination interpreted for you. Drink healing water from a hidden waterfall. Meet the locals who live on the mountain, and hike down a path off the beaten track. Even visit a peaceful Zen temple and learn how Shintoism has influenced the Zen garden.

What you’ll learn

You will learn how politics changes the way people worship, how devotees struggle to strike a balance between ritual and spontaneity, and how Hinduism, Korean animism, and even the US military have shaped the Inari faith. You'll also learn about the shrine's connection to Pokémon.

Once you've been on this hike, you'll never see shrines and temples the same way again. You'll be primed to find hidden symbols, practices, and stories everywhere.

Come see what everyone else has been missing out on, and leave seeing Shintoism and Buddhism in a whole new light.

8:30AM - 12:30PM

Small groups of 6 or fewer
Guided hike in English
4 hours total
¥6,000 per participant



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Check out our 100% 5-star reviews on TripAdvisor and Airbnb.


What guests say

This is not just some average business as usual tour, it was such a great spiritual experience.
— Adura, USA
We were lead away from the crowds and immersed into the religion. There is no way we would have done any of this if we went on our own. Many photo opportunities, minus most of the crowds. Tea and coffee with dragon water and a meditation with words from the gods. The Alternative Tour is the best thing I’ve done in Japan.
— Taisha, Australia
We have a 9-year-old son and a 13-year old daughter. They were totally engrossed in learning about Shintoism, the foxes, dragons, the shrines, calling the gods...
— Eric, Switzerland
Wow! We love, love, loved Lee’s tour. I can’t add any more to the amazing reviews... It has been the highlight of our Kyoto stay.
— Sandra, UK
The tour is unlike any other you’ll find for this area and at times your small group will be the only one in the area you are in...
— Jenna, South Africa
The joy of traveling is often enhanced by a deeper understanding of the history and culture of the place. A guide who is passionate, knowledgeable and sincere becomes the icing on the cake.
— Chris, Singapore

What we’ll do… in detail


Meet in front of Inari Station
One of our guides (either Lee or Gulay) will meet you.

Main shrine
We go through the shrine's contemporary history at the shrine at the foot of Mt Inari. You'll learn about the man who built these magnificent halls of vermillion and gold, and the lasting influence he left on the ancient capital.

Greet the gods
We'll greet the gods together. Hear about the surprising origin of the two-claps-two-bow ritual.

Spot remnants of the Buddhist temples
Discover the remnants of Buddhist shrines and temples on the mountain, and learn how politics split Shinto and Buddhism apart not too long ago.

Hidden private shrines
Visit shrines left off the official map, and discover for yourself why they have been left off the map.

Stop for a magnificent view of the city
Take in the views of southern Kyoto from 50 stories up high (and yes there are many steps that you have to take to get here but we'll take breaks!)

Talk to the trees
We’ll purify our hands together and then we'll talk to holy trees. You’ll get their messages interpreted for you.


Holy waterfalls
Visit holy waterfalls that mediums, shamans, and mountain ascetics use in their meditation. You'll get to collect and drink holy water from one.

Take the old path out
Take a forested trail that will lead you back into the city. Along the way you'll learn how to spot wild tea.

Relax in a zen garden
Find yourself in a zen garden to learn what Shintoism has to do with the modern zen garden.

End at Tofukuji Station
You’ll be taken all the way to the station. There are many restaurants here. We will make recommendations.

Gozendani in summer

Book now

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Refund policy: You will get a full refund if you cancel 3 days (72 hours) before the tour, but not if you cancel less than 3 days before the tour. There are no refunds for no shows. You will be offered a reschedule or refund if walks are cancelled because of heavy rain, typhoon warnings, major earthquakes, or any other natural disasters.



Where do we meet?

We meet opposite JR Inari Station, at the entrance to the shrine. You’ll get a map and directions to the meeting point immediately after you book the tour.

Do we walk if it rains or snows?

Yes. The walk continues as scheduled in light drizzles and light snowfall, but it will be cancelled in the event of heavy rain, if there are strong winds or if there is a major earthquake. You will have a chance to reschedule or choose to be refunded in full.

Dress code?

Come in comfortable walking shoes. Sandals and other apparel that expose your feet are not recommended. Avoid heels, geta (wooden clogs), and loose clothing you are not used to wearing (yukata and kimono). Singlets and extremely short shorts are not recommended for temples and shrines. Apart from raising eyebrows you’ll attract mosquitoes.

Can children come?

Parents are welcome to take children 8 and up on the tour. All children must be registered as guests because we pay attention to them as much as the adults. If you are taking children along, please be sure that they are ready to walk for 4 hours and that they are actually willing to do this with you. Children under the age of 8 may not be brought on the tour because we visit sacred spaces (and private spaces) that have to be kept as quiet as possible. We will not have time to stop for long nursing breaks for infants.

Any breaks?

Yes, of course. We will be making our way up slowly and will pause a few times, so walkers of all ages should be able to make it through. There are vending machines with drinks and some huts selling biscuits and crackers, but we suggest bringing some energy bars to snack on.

Where and what time does the tour end?

We end the tour at Tofukuji Station, where there are many options for lunch. We like to allow you to savor the quiet paths after the summit so this walk may end up to 30 minutes later than scheduled. The end time depends on the pace of the other guests on the hike.

What can I do after the tour?

You may then want to walk back to Tofukuji’s Hojo Garden to view Japan’s first modern zen garden, Funda-in Temple to see Kyoto’s oldest zen garden, or make your way to Sanjusangendo to view the 1001 bodhisattvas. We have a whole bunch of suggestions here.