The red Torii are donated by Japanese people and businesses and can cost as much as a million yen each, the name of whoever donated them is written on the gate along with the date of the donation.
While Inari is known as the god of rice, it is also the patron of business, and merchants and manufacturers have traditionally worshipped Inari.
Fushimi Inari Shrine has ancient origins, with the earliest structures being built in 711 on the Inariyama hill in southwestern Kyoto, but the shrine was re-located in 816. The main shrine structure was built in 1499 . The main gate and shrine are at the bottom of the hill and the Torii trail is behind them heading up the mountain.
In new year 2006 the shrine drew almost 2.7 million visitors in 3 days. The first time I visited in the same year (not new year though!) it was very much quieter than this time, the signposting in significantly improved in English and many, many more tourists there. I would go early, it does get busy and its hard to get great photos when it is that busy…
How to get there:
From Kyoto station, the JR Inari station is the second station south of Kyoto on the Nara line. its about 140 yen one way and a short, well signposted walk from Inari station.. The shrine can also be reached in a short walk from Fushimi Inari Station along the Keihan Main Line.
No charge for entry and it never closes….