Upon arrival there is a rush of people drawn to get to the Inari Shrine. We have all come to see the thousands of famous red torii gates. We start walking, selfie sticks everywhere, in a sea of people. I think to myself that at this rate, there is no way I am going to get a decent picture, let alone actually enjoy it.
We keep walking. We hear the group next to us agree to each other, ‘let’s turn back, we have seen enough, it’s all the same.’ The rest of us continue. We keep going, turning off here and there to see the odd shrine on an adjacent path. This place is huge!
It turns out there are 10,000 of these wooden torii gates on the Inari mountain. That is a lot and I should have read about this place a bit better beforehand – I am usually much better than this! Then I am reminded that if you want to do the entire route, it’s about a 2 hour walk to get up and down the mountain. We decide to ‘see how we feel’ but I didn’t bring any water and it’s starting to get pretty warm.
We keep climbing, the steps are getting steeper now. Then we come to a clearing and we can see across the entire city. It’s a magnificent view and worth the climb. At this point there is a rest stop where you may purchase beverages and snacks, turn around or carry on. We kept going, somehow 35 minutes and a lot of sweat later, made it to the top!
The route is very clear to follow, and even has timers to estimate how much longer it takes to climb the next sections. There are vending machines up the mountain but the further up you get, the more expensive they become! There are signs about wild bears in the area to be careful about, but maybe that is more at night.
The further we climbed, we noticed that the crowds became smaller and it got to a point where it was just us around each corner. Photo time! If you want to get some good shots, just keep on walking. It’s a shame for people with mobility issues as this is not an accessible attraction. However, I did see some ladies in high heels near the top which was absolutely shocking. What are they trying to prove?!
The Inari Shrine is open 24/7, you can go day or night. I would have loved to experience it in the evening – not to go all the way to the top as it looks so isolated, but to see it in a different light.
At the top, there is no ‘well done, you made it’ but there is a vending machine to quench your thirst which is still pretty good. We had wobbly legs the entire way down but were proud to have done the circuit.
My Fitbit was pleased with me that day: 100 flights of stairs climbed or 1000m of ascent!
Cost: Absolutely free!
What to bring: sensible footwear (I do not condone the high heels!), a bottle of water, a camera to take some amazing photos
How long: Up to 2 hours