The shrine was founded in 711 but relocated in 816 at the base of Inari mountain, in the Fushimi ward of Kyoto where it remains today.
Seeing the site for yourself for the first time is an experience. My companions and I went in the evening and reached the top at sundown, the crowd was sparse and few.
The site is comprised of torii gates in sucession with paths underneath, the function of a torii is to mark the entrance of a sacred area. The tunnel like trails are hypnotic, they are seemingly endless and have you anxious to reach the end.
There are many paths you can choose from while going up, many of which lead to smaller shrines. The total span of the trails is 4 kilometers and takes around 2 hours to walk up.
Along the way there are many picturesque areas to admire, the top of the trail offers a great view the the city bellow. The broad-leaved evergreen and oaken forest surrounding the trails is quite the sight during autumn and spring, if you love long walks in nature this is a no brainer as it is one of Kyoto's best hikes.
There's something to be said about Japan's almost seemless blend of new and classic. Never have I seen such a balance of modernism from such an industrious country, all of their technological advances, infrastructure, media and corporate lives doesn't depreciate their respect for tradition and history.
A sense of serenity and accomplishment washes over you after reaching the top, you are rewarded with a beautiful view of Kyoto. Overlooking the city bellow you really puts how high you've climbed in perspective, and after taking a moment to rest and admire how far you've come, the walk down feels amazing on your body after the long walk up.
If you love traditional Japan then Kyoto should be you main stop. Fushimi Inari is a great stop as Higashimaru, Fushimishinpo, and other shrines and temples are a walking distance away. Please make sure you care up for walking for a few hours if you decide to go, my advice would be to put on sports or outdoor activity shoes but hiking boots are not necessary. It always a smart precautionary action to stay hydrated during your rise to the top.