Fushimi Inari shrine is visited by virtually every visitor to Kyoto. I also came here many times and last time in April I climbed Mount Inari to the top. Coinciding with Gion Matsuri in July, the Motomiya festival took place at the shrine. Countless lanterns provided a different atmosphere than usual.

I arrived before sunset and stayed until nightfall, allowing me to capture the changes in light.

The shrine is always well-visited but this time there were almost no foreign visitors to be seen – no surprise with the current entry ban for touristic visitors. There were so many lanterns all over the premises, and I could not wait to see them in the dark.

Behind the shrine the paths leading through the famous torii begin. Most people walk a certain way, taking a right turn after the first staircase. To mix things up I went left instead and soon entered the forest behind the shrine. On the way I saw a cat resting on the warm stone under a fox statue.

The warm sunlight at the low angle bathed the torii and the trees in a warm light. It is a much better experience than coming mid day.

Because I chose a different route than usual, I found a path leading up a slope which lead me into a bamboo forest. The noise from the festival was quickly gone and I could only hear the cicadas. Surprisingly, nobody was here. I highly recommend it for your next visit. It is way less busy than the Arashiyama bamboo path. The path would continue a long time and turn into a hiking trail up the mountain, but I turned around after some time, since I came for the festival today.

By this time, the sun had set and the torii were dimly lit by a few lanterns. Even though so many people came for the festival, the always so crowded torii path was nearly empty.

At the main shrine there was still light, I came just just in time for the blue hour. Now the lanterns really set the atmosphere.

I made another round after it became completely dark.

At the end I enjoyed the offerings from the food stalls. I tried something different than usual; first a crab meat stick (tasty!) and then yaki dango.

Summer festivals make their return after two years of break and I really enjoy experiencing them.

Motomiya Festival – Fushimi Inari Shrine
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