Fushimi Inari is an important Shinto shrine here in Japan. It is famous for its thousands of vermilion torii gates, which straddle a network of trails behind its main buildings. The trails lead into the wooded forest of the sacred Mount Inari, which stands at 233 meters and belongs to the shrine grounds.
The shrine is the most important of several thousands of shrines dedicated to Inari, the Shinto god of rice. Foxes are thought to be Inari's messengers, resulting in many fox statues across the shrine grounds. Fushimi Inari Shrine has ancient origins, predating the capital's move to Kyoto in 794.
Many foreign visitors to Japan can’t tell the difference between a shrine and a temple and they often use the terms interchangeably. Using the terms temple and shrine interchangeably is the same as using the terms church and synagogue interchangeably. Two primary religions are practiced in Japan, Shinto which is practiced at a shrine and Buddhism, which is practiced at a temple.
While the primary reason most foreign visitors come to Fushimi Inari is to explore the mountain trails, the shrine buildings themselves are also attractive. At the very back of the shrine's main grounds is the entrance to the torii gate-covered hiking trail, which starts with two dense, parallel rows of gates called Senbon Torii which leterally means thousands of torii gates. The torii gates along the entire trail are donations by individuals and companies, and you will find the donator's name and the date of the donation inscribed on the back of each gate.
Fushimi Inari Shrine is located just outside JR Inari Station, the second station from Kyoto Station along the JR Nara Line (5 minutes, not served by rapid trains). If you ride a bike, it will take 15 minutes from Kyoto Catholic House.