The Fushimi Inari Shrine is more than its famous tunnels of vermillion-red torii gates. Dive deep into the world of Inari with this 3.5-hour narrated walking tour about dragons, political resistance, and the story behind Japan’s most successful religious franchise.

Guided by a Singaporean living in Fushimi.

Did you know
  • You can send postcards to Oseki-san, a god on Mt Inari, to ask for deliverance from severe coughs and breathing difficulties
  • Fushimi-Inari is the only shrine complex in Japan where there are more private shrines (a whooping 10,000!) than official shrines
  • The real stars of Mt Inari are neither the torii gates nor the foxes—the hidden streams, waterfalls, and great cedar trees off the main trail are
This tour:
  • Is held in English
  • Runs daily except Tuesdays from 8:30am – 12:00 noon
  • An intimate experience: Up to 8 travelers per group
  • Takes 3.5 hours with short breaks in between
The route:
  • Departs from the big torii gate at the entrance
  • Goes off the beaten track: visit private shrines not on the official map
  • Takes you to the top for an scenic view of southern Kyoto City
  • Brings you on a closer look at craftsmens’ shrines and healing shrines
You’ll learn about:
  • The Hindu and Buddhist origins of some of the symbols
  • The Korean and Tang Dynasty Chinese influence on Mt Inari
  • Mystical practices and folk beliefs not written about in the official narrative
  • The Edo-era craze about foxes and Inari Shrines
  • The portrayal of the shrine in 19th century manga, and 21st century anime

The 30,000-strong Inari network of shrines is the largest in Japan. The Fushimi Inari is regarded as the head shrine for them all. But why did people flock to this 233-meter mountain in the first place? Let XJ take you on a tour through time and controversy in the Alternative Fushimi Inari Walking Tour.

FAQ

Does this tour gets cancelled for weather?
Not if it drizzles or if there is light snow. It will be cancelled if there is heavy rain.

Can I just show up or do I need a reservation?
You need a reservation so that we can ensure a small group size.

What should I show up in?
Comfortable walking shoes. No heavy bags!

More questions and answers below.

Lee Xian Jie (XJ)
Your Guide: Lee Xian Jie

XJ studied Political Science at Waseda University, and his work has taken him all over the world. But he eventually found his way to Fushimi, where he’s since befriended a whole bunch of neighborhood cats, on top of doing research for a documentary. He explores Kyoto on his bicycle, but primarily for the ramen.

Book now

Make your reservation up to 6 months in advance. Booking closes 24 hours before each time slot.

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Refund policy: Full refund if you cancel 3 days before the tour. No refunds if you cancel less than 3 days before the tour. No refunds for no shows. No exceptions! 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.

All your questions, answered

Yes. This tour is for travelers who are on their first trip to a shrine, as well as people who been to dozens of shrines. Curious travelers who want to go beyond the Instagram-mable parts of the Fushimi Inari Taisha should come on this tour.

P.S. There will be photo opportunities and I’ll take you to the best photo spots. But Fushimi Inari is much more than the senbon-torii (where most tourists stop) so don’t miss out on the rest of it!

Tens of thousands of tourists visit Inariyama without needing tour guides. There is almost no way to get lost on Inariyama. We recommend walking on your own if you only need photographs, or do not have time for an extended tour.

This walking tour is built on research that goes beyond the information on the plaques, in guidebooks, and even the official narrative about Inariyama. By coming on this tour, you will get the contextual information you’ll need to understand how and why Inariyama grew from an unknown family shrine in the 7th century to popularity today.

Of course. There is plenty of time on the walk to clarify words that you do not understand. I refrain from using jargon and introduce every historical figure I mention. I also speak Japanese and Mandarin Chinese and can answer your questions simply in your language. However, I cannot answer extremely technical questions in Japanese and Mandarin Chinese because they are not my first language.

A brisk walk up and down Inariyama will take you a minimum of two hours. We need 3 hours 30 minutes so that we can stop for explanations and have a couple of breaks.

Yes, the tour is no fun with too many other tourists around. Also the torii gates glow in the morning light. It will be worth getting up early for. If you’re lucky you’ll spot the head priest making his rounds.

We start at 8:30 sharp and do not wait for stragglers. I recommend arriving at 8:15 so that you may visit the washroom and the nearby convenience store.

That said, the start time of the tour can be changed if you sign up for a private tour. Email to enquire.

The tour starts under the big torii gate at the main entrance of the shrine. It is directly in front of Inari Station on the JR Nara Line and 5 minutes away by foot from Fushimi-Inari Station on the Keihan Line.

The walk continues as scheduled in light drizzles and light snowfall. It will be cancelled in the event of heavy rain, if there are strong winds or if there is a major earthquake, and you will be refunded in full.

No. Participation in the rituals that I will introduce you to is entirely voluntary. It is up to you. The Fushimi Inari Taisha does not require visitors to participate in any ritual, nor will anyone be offended if you do not.

You do not need to make any offerings to be on this tour. If you would like make offerings, take a few ¥5 coins with you. The rest are entirely voluntary: Candles- ¥100-200. Omikuji (oracles)- ¥100-200. Votives (ema)- ¥500 and up, miniature torii gates- ¥3,500 and up.

Yes, I will be able to read it for you at the end of the walking tour. However, I am not a fortune teller or professional oracle-reader and do not offer oracle interpretation services.

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).

Children who are able to take long walks can come on the tour. Infants, toddlers, and the parents who will have to carry them up the 233-meter hill will definitely not enjoy this tour.

No. This tour is for travelers who are able to complete a slightly strenuous walk with a few short breaks in between. There are countless steps and the route is unevenly paved. We also go off the designated routes at a few points. I offer customized tours for determined persons who need to walk at a slower pace due to joint, respiratory, or heart problems.

People have believed for a long time that various entities on Inariyama have the ability to heal joint, bone, respiratory, eye, and other health problems. I will be happy to take you to the shrines dedicated to the different health problems (but you’ll need to have travel insurance!)

No. I do not accept tips. But I would very much appreciate a review on TripAdvisor!