A Perfect One Day in Kyoto Itinerary – Exploring Fushimi Inari Taisha & Uji

Last Updated on 10/06/2024 by secretmoona

One Day in Kyoto Itinerary

Kyoto seamlessly blends the ancient with the modern, offering visitors a chance to experience Japan’s rich cultural heritage. If you have just one day to spend in Kyoto, though the city has countless things to see and do, focusing on the iconic Fushimi Inari Taisha and the charming town of Uji will give you an unforgettable taste of this timeless city. Here’s a one-day in Kyoto itinerary to help you make the most of your time.

School kids walking through the gates - Kyoto 1 Day Itinerary

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After a lovely day visiting a few temples the previous day, I headed to see the torii gates of Fushimi Inari Taisha. I’d heard that Fushimi Inari Taisha was one of Kyoto’s most famous and visually striking shrines, so I was very curious to see the thousands of vermilion gates. I can just say that I was pleasantly surprised.

I got off the train at Inari and had no problem finding the shrine; I just followed the crowd of people. I got off the train at Inari and had no problem finding the shrine; I just followed the crowd of people. Fushimi Inari is popular with both Japanese visitors and foreign tourists, although for different reasons. Japanese come to pay their respects, while tourists come because it’s an iconic landmark of Japan. I noticed there were more Japanese people than tourists, possibly due to the large number of schoolchildren. Join me on my journey through the Torii gates.

School trip at Fushimi Inari - Kyoto 1 Day Itinerary

Fushimi Inari should be on every Japan travel itinerary. If you want to learn how to visit beautiful places in Japan, including Fushimi Inari, check out this Japan Itinerary 14 Days.

Enter the 10,000 Vermillion Torii Gates

The Fushimi Inari Shrine (伏見稲荷大社, Fushimi Inari Taisha) was founded in 711 and is the most important Shinto shrine. It is famous worldwide for its thousands of vermilion torii gates, and has been featured in many television dramas and movies, such as “Memoirs of a Geisha“.

Torii gate in front of main building, Honden

The Torii gate serves as the entrance to a sacred shrine in the Shinto religion. The shrines at Fushimi Inari are dedicated to the Shinto god Inari (稲荷), who is associated with agriculture, particularly rice and sake. In addition to the numerous gates, the shrine grounds are adorned with many stone foxes, known as kitsune in Japanese, which are considered to be messengers for Inari. The foxes come in various sizes and styles, including big foxes, small foxes, foxes wearing capes, stone foxes, white foxes, cute foxes, and scary foxes.

You can purchase ema within the inner shrine. Ema (絵馬) are wooden plaques on which worshippers write their prayers or wishes before hanging them on the shrine wall as offerings to the kami, or spirits. The fox-shaped ema are especially popular; as you can see, many “artists” have created unique drawings on them.

Wooden fFox drawings at Fushimi
Ema display at  Fushimi Inari - Kyoto 1 Day Itinerary
Torii shaped ema - Kyoto 1 Day Itinerary

Upon entering the large main Torii gate, I was met with the main building (Honden). After a short walk, I found myself at the famous alley of gates that creates a stunning tunnel effect. The view was truly striking. There were a lot of people, and I had to wait to take a picture with fewer people in the background. Unfortunately, taking pictures with nobody in the background was impossible due to the large number of visitors. I think you need to be there very early in the morning!

As I climbed higher, the number of people decreased, allowing me to take pictures with relatively few people in them. I was overwhelmed by the beauty of the place. The further up the mountain I went, the more amazed I was by the beauty of the surroundings. The varying sizes and colours of the gates against the green forest made the location even more spectacular. Despite not being a particularly spiritual person, it made me feel in sync with nature.

Rows of torii gates - Kyoto 1 Day Itinerary
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Hiking Mount Inari Through the Torii Gates

Torii gate within forest
Different coloured gates

As I began hiking through the path lined with countless torii gates, I noticed inscriptions on each of the gates. Each of the gates has been donated by a company or organisation to give their thanks for their prosperity and in the hope of good fortune in the future. So businesses pay large some to have their names written on the torii gates. The cost for a gate ranges from 400,000 Yen for a small one to over a million Yen for a large one. Since there is no more place for additional gates, they wait until they need to be refurbished to snatch a space.

Kanji names written on gates - Kyoto 1 Day Itinerary

Walking through the wooded forest and up the hill was not a simple affair, as Fushimi Inari is located on the sacred 223-meter-high Mount Inari. The full trail to the summit of Mount Inari and back takes about 2-3 hours, so comfortable shoes are required (I was not well prepared!). As you continue the journey through the 10,000 torii gates, you see even more shrines, souvenir shops, and food. If you manage to go all the way up, you will be rewarded with panoramic views of beautiful Kyoto.

View from the forest
Small shop at shrine with bridge - Kyoto 1 Day Itinerary

I really enjoyed visiting this shrine. After the beautiful but disappointing Kinkakuji, I had no high expectations of Fushimi. I’m happy that it turned out to be the best of all my visits. Perhaps it was the length of the visit or the fact that it could be visited at your own pace.

If you are planning to go to Kyoto, please pay a visit to Fushimi Inari. You will not regret it as it is simply AMAZING. Remember to read about manners before you visit the shrine – Fushimi Inari Shrine – Etiquette Leaflet.

Coloured gates
Small shrines high up in the mountain - Kyoto 1 Day Itinerary
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One Day in Kyoto Itinerary – Take a Day Trip to Uji

After enjoying the sightseeing, I went back to my hotel to freshen up before meeting my friend Noriko for another amazing experience.

If you only have one day in Kyoto, I would recommend doing some off-the-beaten-path activities. Noriko and I decided to go to Uji, a small city located between Kyoto and Nara. Uji (宇治) is famous for its World Heritage sites like the Byodoin Temple, Ujigami Shrine, and the Tale of Genji. However, what really stands out about Uji is the quality of its green tea.

We drove to Uji, but if you’re travelling by train from Kyoto, it’s about a 20-30-minute trip to either JR Uji or Keihan Uji. If you’re travelling from Inari Station, just take the JR Nara Line to Uji.

Discovering Uji’s Byodoin Temple

After finding a place to park our car, we walked over to the Uji-bashi Bridge. It’s one of the oldest bridges in Japan. The end of the bridge takes you to Byodo-in Omotesando Street. However, instead of exploring the shopping street, we headed first to the magnificent Byodoin Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The temple’s Phoenix Hall is depicted on the back of the Japanese 10 yen coin. We strolled through the beautiful gardens and marvelled at the temple’s exquisite architecture.

Byodo in Temple with Pond - One day in Kyoto itinerary
Photo credit: Sanga Park

Lunch in Uji

After visiting the Byodoin Temple, we were ready for lunch. Uji is famous for its green tea, so we decided to have a meal at a local restaurant where the dishes and desserts are infused with the rich flavours of matcha. As we walked around, we noticed many shops selling matcha-related foods, such as “dango” dumplings, noodles, ice cream, and even doughnuts. We stopped by a lovely restaurant to try matcha soba and had matcha ice cream for dessert.

If you have time, consider trying a tea ceremony. As the town of green tea, no visit to Uji would be complete without experiencing a traditional tea ceremony. Head to the Taihoan Tea House to participate in ceremonial tea preparation and tasting, and gain a deeper appreciation for the art and culture of Japanese tea.

Uji River and Cormorant fishing boat by Gyro  - One day in Kyoto itinerary
Photo by Gyro

Stroll Along Uji River & Cormorant Fishing

After enjoying a pleasant walk around the shopping street, we continued by taking a leisurely stroll along the scenic Uji River. The views were picturesque. We then headed to the meeting point for our pre-booked experience: Cormorant fishing.  For more information about the experience, please check here. If cormorant fishing isn’t for you, you can opt for a short riverboat cruise instead to see the area from a different perspective.

Journey through the torii gates of Fushimi Inari Taisha
Uji bridge - Kyoto 1 Day Itinerary

Back to Kyoto

After our river experience, we returned to Kyoto. We strolled through the historic streets lined with traditional wooden machiya houses and stopped at a restaurant to savour a sumptuous kaiseki (multi-course) dinner. If you prefer a more casual dining experience, there are plenty of eateries offering local dishes to choose from.

After a full day of exploration, I thanked Noriko for the lovely day and headed back to my accommodation to relax and reflect on the amazing sights and experiences of the day.

This one-day itinerary in Kyoto offers a perfect blend of spiritual exploration, cultural immersion, and culinary delights, ensuring you get the most out of your visit to Kyoto and Uji. Enjoy your journey through this timeless part of Japan!

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Thanks for reading our one-day in Kyoto itinerary. If you’ve visited Fushimi Inari or Uji, we’d love to hear about your favourite experiences. Share below.

Travel Tips and Resources

Here are some of my favourite travel tips and resources.

  • Flights: I’m all about snapping the best deals when it comes to booking flights. Therefore, I use Google Flights and Skyscanner to get the best deals each time. I use AirHelp to receive compensation for delayed and cancelled flights.
  • Trains: I love using Trainline to book trains within Europe.
  • Accommodations: Booking.com and Agoda are my favourite sites for great hotels and private home deals. They both offer a wide range of hotels, including luxury accommodations and private homes.
  • Car Rentals: When it comes to travelling to remote destinations, renting a car is ideal, for these, I love renting cars through Discover Cars. They offer some great options for affordable rentals, and their customer service is one the best.
  • Tours and Experiences: Visiting a new place also means getting to experience and do many things. I usually book tours via GetYourGuide, Tiqets, or TripAdvisor. If you like doing things solo, WeGoTrip offers audio tours and excursions.
  • Travel Insurance: It is not recommended to travel without proper travel insurance. I always travel with one. Use VisitorsCoverage to compare and get the best travel insurance policy for you.

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One Day in Kyoto Itinerary, Japan
Kyoto 1 Day Itinerary. Things to do in Kyoto including a visit to Fushimi Inari & Uji.

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Hi there! I'm Mayi. Welcome to my blog SecretMoona! I hope to share with you the hidden secret of places I visit.

24 thoughts on “A Perfect One Day in Kyoto Itinerary – Exploring Fushimi Inari Taisha & Uji

  1. I saw these gates so many times on photos but had no idea that there is some meaning behind. For me it was just a beautiful sight to visit if I ever go to Japan. Glad I read your post, now I know what shrine means 🙂

  2. Your photos are gorgeous. I also learned a lot about the shrine from this post — usually you just see photos of the gates, so it was super interesting to read about the stone foxes and the ema!

  3. i’ve been to t his place! we didn’t now that it was going to be a bit more of a hike than a mere stroll along the torii gates. wish i could have tried writing a prayer on the ema though!

  4. Thanks for sharing a full day’s itinerary in Kyoto. The combination of temples and hiking looks incredible.

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