Kyoto, kimono, and Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine – Here’s a How-To

Fushimi Inari Taisha

I finally made it to Fushimi Inari Taisha on my third visit to Japan with @british_airways. You may not recognize the name, but I bet you’ve seen pictures of Fushimi Inari Taisha’s more than 5,000 orange torii gates that line trails to other Kami Inari shrines.

Located in Kyoto, Fushimi Inari Taisha is considered the head shrine, which sits at the base of Mount Inariyama. It takes about 2 hours to walk the trails up the mountain. Fushimi Inari Taisha is a must-see and while you are there, I urge you to experience wearing a kimono. This was my second time wearing a kimono. It’s such a special experience.

Fushimi Inari Taisha


Here are some tips on renting and wearing a kimono

Kimonos are not known for their comfort. If you do decide to wear a kimono, make sure to bring sneakers to walk the trails. But then, I am not sure how you will gracefully climb the trails.

I visited around 2 p.m. after eating lunch at the village in Kyoto. You may want to eat a light lunch if you are going to rent a kimono, trust me.

Fushimi Inari Taisha

You will find the rental shop to your right as you enter the village. The rental price is from $50+ to $300, which includes a hairdo (a fancy updo will be a bit pricier). I chose the casual look. You can google for your kimono rental for other locations. I would leave it to the professionals to assist you with your kimono. Or I guess you can always YouTube the how to?

I was a bit warm in the kimono, and it was a pretty cool day, about 75°F. I wouldn’t recommend renting one on a super-hot day as you will be dressing in layers, and I can’t imagine it would be comfortable.

If you go early, you will have a lot more kimonos to choose from.

It is a really fun experience. I highly recommend it. I mean, seriously, when will you be back in Japan? I was asked if it was appropriate to rent a kimono? I responded, “Why not? It is such a lovely cultural experience.”

From kimono to bridal gowns

Traditional Japanese wedding wear calls for a specific wedding-only kimono. But did you know that Christian-style weddings are more popular?

According to a Japan Times article by Dave Hueston, “Since the late-1990s, western ‘white weddings’ overtook Shinto nuptials as the ceremony of choice.”  It’s more fashion statement than one of faith. Hueston reports, “Most participants see the wedding as a chance to wear a tuxedo or white dress and walk down the ‘virgin road’ (wedding aisle) before friends and family, bridal industry insiders say.” To perform a Christian matrimony service, or any religious service, a non-Japanese celebrant must have a specific visa, which has turned officiating at weddings into a lucrative business for those few visa holders. The article also notes that Christians make up about only 1 percent of Japan’s population of 127 million, according to data released by the Cultural Affairs Agency in 2015.

Side fashion note – shoe size does not matter

I was asked if it was true that women in Japan wear larger shoes than their actual size. I can’t answer that definitively, but I did notice a woman with a pair that were 3 sizes too big for her.

When I went into a woman’s store, I noticed that the sizes ranged from S, M, L and XL. Of course, this was at a no-name brand shop. Wanting to do further investigating, I went into a designer shop. The store had all sizes to fit accordingly.

On the last day of my trip, I picked up this pair of shoes in a small (S). The style reminds me of my Saint Laurent @ysl shoes (but at a small fraction of the price). Although the small fits perfectly, I really need a 5 1/2. I tried the medium (M), but it was way too big. The medium looks like a size 7 1/2 to me. After walking in the size small, it felt a bit tight. Hopefully, I will break these in as they are adorable for summer wear.

I asked the sales lady why they only have S, M, L and XL? She didn’t know either. I Googled “why.” There isn’t an answer, but it appears that is the norm with a few other countries in Asia.

Logistically speaking

My hotel was in Osaka and it was 1hour and 15-minute train ride to Kyoto. In retrospect, probably best to stay overnight in Kyoto to have a full day experience at Fushimi Inari Taisha.

Fushimi Inari Taisha was a bit packed with tourists, but if you are patient enough and wait at each bend, you will be able to get your photos without the crowd. Just let the people pass by and be ready to pose and snap.

From Shinto shrines to wearing kimonos to Christian-style wedding wear to what’s-with-the-shoe-sizes, isn’t travel fabulous? I love getting to know the offbeat parts of a destination as much as I love taking in the must-see sights, tasting the cuisine, and chatting with locals.


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