Fushimi Inari Shrine at Night

Fushimi Inari is a popular temple in Kyoto, Japan, and is one of the few places that does not close. This knowledge is one of the best travel hacks for Japan, as it’s Fushimi Inari is a great place to visit in the evening, and it’s almost totally devoid of crowds. It’s also especially beautiful at night, and this post covers some of my tips for a nighttime visit, plus random thoughts on late night at Fushimi Inari.

One thing I really enjoy about traveling is taking time by myself in new places to just wander, absorb, and think. Even when I travel with others, I always make sure to take some time by myself. It’s usually pretty easy, as I can typically “outlast” most other people in terms of getting up early and staying out late. This alone time is one of my favorite things about traveling, and while I also enjoy the collective travel experience, I feel like I slow down and appreciate things more when it’s just me.

On our recent trip to Japan, I found myself with a few hours to myself on a rainy evening in Kyoto. For a whole host of reasons that I’ll delve into in another blog post, Kyoto is my favorite city in Japan, so I wanted to make the most of this alone time. There are tons of places I have yet to visit in Kyoto, but the place that kept calling out as I contemplated where to go was the Fushimi Inari Shrine…

I’ve already covered this location in my post Is Fushimi Inari Shrine Worth Visiting? (you can probably guess the answer to that question since I decided to revisit it, but there are a lot of cool photos in that post), but thought I’d revisit the Fushimi Inari shrine with some nighttime photos.

For some “contemplative solitude,” Fushimi Inari was the perfect place. One thing that I like about shrines, and any house of worship, really, is that most of the time I don’t feel like you need to be a practitioner of the underlying religion to derive your own bit of spirituality from the shrines.

Those who actually worship at these locations and hold them in sincere reverence might disagree with me there (and I’m certainly not contending that these places have as much of a profound impact on me as they do the religious), but I typically feel reflective at these places.

I think this partly because shrines typically offer a respite from the chaos of day to day life, and partly a result of the second-hand contact of others’ spirituality. Whatever the case, I find visiting these places of worship to be an impacting experience that triggers some sort of reflection in me.

Visiting late in the evening on a rainy night definitely lent itself to this. While I lost that feeling of ‘communal spirituality’ due to being the only person around, this was easily made up for by being truly alone with my thoughts. It was a great experience that led to me thinking deeply about various things (assuming that I’m actually capable of deep thought).

All of this is basically a rambling and round-about way of saying: if you have the chance to visit Fushimi Inari alone at night, I highly recommend taking it. The atmosphere was excellent, and conducive to a fuller appreciation of the shrine. Fushimi Inari is one of the few shrines in Kyoto open after 6 pm (it’s always open), and it’s illuminated at night with just enough light that it’s not too dangerous to walk, but it’s also not so bright that the mood is spoiled.

Really nothing more profound to say about being at Fushimi Inari at night besides this. Words and photos don’t even begin to convey the experience. I’ll have plenty more photos from Kyoto to post in the coming weeks, and will cover all of the places we visit once things slow down.

For now, I’ll leave this post with this photo. When I saw this scene, it instantly reminded me of the final line of a Robert Frost poem (not trying to get all ‘intellectual’ on you…I distinctly remember this from an episode of “Boy Meets World,” not from intellectual pursuits): “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”

I love the sentiment, and think it fits the photo perfectly.

If you’re planning a visit to Kyoto, Japan, please check out my other posts about Kyoto for ideas of things to do (or not do) while there. Kyoto has a lot of things to see and do, so I also highly recommend the Lonely Planet Kyoto Guide to help better develop an efficient plan while there. 


Your Thoughts

Have you visited Fushimi Inari at night? What did you think of it? Do you enjoy solo time when traveling? Like the experience of temples and shrines? Have you been to Fushimi Inari? Share any other questions or thoughts you have in the comments!

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10 replies
  1. Meena
    Meena says:

    Thanks for the tips. I will soon be travelling there with my family and wanted to get some tips on photography. I am using a Nikon D5000 with a 18-55mm 1:3.5-5.6 lens. Also, have a 55-200mm 1.4 to 5.6mm. Appreciate any tips for nighttime and daytime photos.

    Thank you,

  2. Tanya
    Tanya says:

    This post is now a couple years old but was wondering whether or not to go at night and have now decided to go! Thanks!

    • Tom Bricker
      Tom Bricker says:

      Thanks for the kind words!

      If you can save up for it, it seems like this coming year is the time to visit Japan. The yen keeps getting weaker, making our purchasing power even stronger.


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