May. 11, 2017 UPDATE
A complete guide to Fushimi Inari Shrine
Enjoy some ice cream at the top of Mt. Inari
Heading up, we start from the “Mitsutsuji” crossroad, and head toward the “Yotsutsuji” crossroad, which are respectively names third and fourth crossroads. This “Yotsutsuji” is actually the place where many people take a look at the great views from top of the mountain and head back down, as the hike round the mountain top from here takes about another hour.
They have benches here, and there is a restaurant offering drinks, light food, and soft serve for the weary travelers. One cone of soft serve costs 350 yen, which I found reasonable considering the location on top of a mountain, and that there is no entrance fee to the shrine.
Next when heading right from the resting place that Yotsutsuji offers (you can also go left, the route goes round the mountain in a circle), you get to the third top, Sannomine. If you are lucky and are going to Fushimi Inari in spring, you may get to see cherry blossoms, or like in the picture, the fallen petals.
One fun way of going up the mountain is to look at all the foxes that guard the shrines. Most of them have something in their mouths, like this fox here has something resembling a ball in its mouth.
Not only balls in their mouths, many of the foxes have a red cape-like piece of cloth on them, protecting them from the elements. This fox in the picture even has a woolly hat!
This dandy looking fox is wearing a raincoat, so there really is more to the foxes than looking for what they have in their mouths. Most of the foxes look really unique; they have their own styles.
After walking for a while, you should get to the top of the mountain. According to the sign, this is the top of the mountain, no need to ask this at the shop. Seems like the shopkeeper had to answer this questions quite often for him/her to have resorted to getting this sign and writing this comment on it.
This is the view from the top of the mountain. As in that you can’t really see anything but the torii gate and the smaller shrines which this place is full of. The top is maybe not the place with the greatest views, but it is nice to know that you have been to the top.
Going down the mountain, the most obvious sight you should look out for is Ganriki Shrine. This shrine is a place that should be good for your eyes, so if you happen to have some problems with your eyes, this is the place to pray for them to get better.
But the reason for this shrine’s popularity probably lies in this very relaxed fox. The fox almost looks like it is sliding down the rock, though it seems to also be in no hurry to do so. If you wash your eyes with the water flowing from the bamboo coming out of the fox’s mouth, it is said that your eyes will get better.
What many people don’t realize is that the torii gates really continue all the way to the top of the mountain. Only the density changes, there are, of course, the most torii gates by the Senbon torii, but there are really many even up the mountain, plus if you go really high there are not so many people. So if you want to take a picture of yourself standing by the torii gates, better go really early, or just hike up the mountain.
Going down the road to the head shrine, you could make a detour on the north side and go see these frogs guarding Suehiro Shrine. Normally there are two dogs in front of a shrine protecting a shrine, but here at Suehiro Shrine they have frogs that are said to bring good luck. If you look carefully, you can see a baby frog on the back of the bigger frog.
Going back to the main shrine, take a look at these majestic foxes guarding the main buildings of the shrine. They look at a bit more aristocratic than the other foxes. Next, it is time to find something nice to eat by the shrine.