Last Sunday I explored the Fushimi area in the South of Kyoto. Arguably the reason many of you came here before was to see the Fushimi Inari Shrine, famous for its 1000 torii.

Today, April 17th happened to be the day of the Inari festival (Shinko festival), a festival at the shrine, so I decided to visit Fushimi again after many years. But apart from that I also explored the sake brewing district and the area in general, so keep reading.

Shortly before 11 I arrived at JR Fushimi station which is located right in front of the shrine. Even though a festival was about to begin and it was a Sunday, it was not really busy. Especially compared to my last visit in the 2010’s it was not really crowded.

Photography was forbidden as usual, so I sadly cannot show you any pictures of the ceremony. Right on time, next to the main hall a group of priests and miko started their procession to the main hall. There I followed the ceremony for about an hour which entailed offerings to the gods and many ceremonial rites.

Later I also watched two miko perform a ceremonial dance. Unfortunately the mikoshi (portable shrine) parade was canceled again because of the pandemic.

I then ascended the mountain behind the shrine, passing countless torii. It takes about 45-60 minutes to climb the stairs to the top and while it was exhausting I’m glad I did it at the end.

Don’t be discouraged and turn back, the crowds thin out after the half-way point where the path enters a circular trail to the summit. There are also food stalls and small restaurants scattered along the path but I passed them. Watch out to bring a drink before starting the climb because drinks are more expensive (but available from vending machines).

A video about the first half of the ascent.

The second half of the trail was particularly pleasant as I walked through the forest while a cool wind was blowing. On the top there are three shrines which look similar, but only one of them is the true summit, so check the signs.

The way down was way faster and I made it back within 90 minutes. It was about time to eat something so I snacked on a piece of inari sushi and hopped on the train again towards central Fushimi.

The Keihan train is most convenient to access the area, but JR also works if you are willing to walk a few steps more. I got off at Fushimi-Momoyama station and found myself in the Otesuji shopping arcade. For lunch I visited the chicken restaurant Torisei, on a side street towards the next stop.

Yakitori for lunch

South of the shopping street lies the sake brewing district. Fushimi is one of the most famous sake brewing areas, Nada in Kobe is another one. Nearly 40 breweries are located here, one of them is called Gekkeikan, a large-scale brewery. I visited their museum which showcases the brewing process and the company’s history. Most signs were translated in English, making it accessible to foreign visitors. At the end of the visit one can sample three of their sake products.

A video showcasing the museum and the area.

In the area you can find several other shops and cafés offering sake, for example Kizakura Kappa Country and Fushimi Yumehyakushu.

There is more to experience than sake of course. A river flows through the area and there is a boat ride called Fushimi Jikkokubune. Especially during the cherry blossom season it must be wonderful to ride on the river, but it is a nice trip anytime of the year.

The boat trip on its own is not that long and you spend 30 minutes on the land near a lock. There is a small museum about it and a park, but not much to see. Therefore I don’t recommend the cruise as a must-do, but it’s nice when the cherries blossom.

That’s all I did in Fushimi, but there is more to do and see if you have time. For example you can visit the Teradaya inn, and learn about the history involving Sakamoto Ryoma, Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Hijikata Toshizo.

A festival, hiking and Sake in Fushimi
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