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[Photos] Urbanist Getaways: The Stillness of Kyoto's Fushimi Inari Taisha at Night

If you visited Kyoto but didn’t snap a snazzy shot of the seemingly infinite row of torii gates, did you really visit Kyoto? Or at least, that’s what common travel conventions seem to suggest.

Fushimi Inari-taisha is probably the single most recognizable landmark in Kyoto. The famous main shrine sits at the foot of a mountain, but to reach the inner shrine, visitors must walk a path lined with thousands of torii gates, the iconic Japanese structure painted in vermillion and black. History indicates that these gates were donated by worshippers in hopes of having their wishes actualized.

Because of its status as a prized tourist destination, Fushimi Inari is often packed with travelers and worshippers. Its international fame was perhaps amplified by Rob Marshall’s 2005 adaptation of the novel Memoirs of a Geisha. In one of the film’s most pivotal scenes, little Chiyo runs to the inner shrine to make an offering to the heart-wrenching cries of the violin in the score.

For the crowd-averse, a nocturnal visit might be your best chance to relish the shrine’s brilliant architecture, spiritualism and natural scenery with some semblance of quietude. These night shots, taken by photographer Chris Humphrey, present a placid side of the shrine, enveloped in an indigo twilight and embraced by the amber warmth of night lights.

Have a closer look at the serenity of Fushimi Inari-taisha during a winter evening below:

At 8pm, most of the tourists have left for dinner, leaving Fushimi Inara’s courtyard empty in the cold, save for the odd couple or passerby here and there.

The best time to drop by Fushimi Inari is at night.

The criss-cross of shadows dotting the walkway.

Inside the sheltered path.

Each torii gate bears the name of its donor.

Garden lamp posts along the path.

A horse statue inside the compound.

Visitors make an offering and leave their business card behind to ask for good luck.

A ladle for visitors to rinse themselves before visiting the shrine.

The platform of Fushimi-Inari Train Station, just a short walk from the shrine.

An almost-empty carriage departing from the shrine.

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