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Fushimi-Inari Taisha Shrine

This very important shrine lies just south of the main Kyoto train station. It was dedicated to the god of rice and sake in the eighth century, but now is mainly patronized for intercession in business matters.

The monstrous gate guards a complex of several smaller, lantern-laden buildings and a path leading around the mountain.

As I understand it, this Inari shrine was the first of its kind and is now the head of about 35,000 Inari shrines all across Japan. The main gate and shrine are the entrance to the paths which criss-cross the mountain which holds five smaller shrines. These smaller shrines are all linked by these paths.

Here is the traditional purification fountain and ladles found at the entrance of every Japanese shrine.

The shrine displays more lanterns than any Japanese temple or shrine I have ever seen.
Thousands of them can be seen near the gate alone.

The fox is an important animal in Japanese lore and is considered to be the mesenger of Inari. There are many stone foxes all over the mountain.

There is a prevalent superstition about foxes among the Japanese. It is said that they are capable of possessing numan beings, making them lose their minds and go wild. There are old stories of men and women who lost themselves to the spirit of the fox, abandoned their lives in the cities, and went out into the wilderness to live just as the foxes do.

At Inari shrines, it's common to see ema, or wishing plaques, in the shape of a fox's head.
Here you can see one of many displays at Fushimi of tori gates.

If you are lucky enough to get a chance to visit this interesting shrine, you will never see so many tori gates in one place ever again! There are thousands of them forming the paths around the mountain to each of the five other shrines.

Because Inari now insures prosperity in business, many businesses and people have donated stone or wooden tori gates to Inari. Many times their names can be seen on a stamp, placard or glued paper to the tori gate they have donated.

The mountain wilderness of Fushimi-Inari Taisha

A visit to the Fushimi-Inari Taisha Shrine and the mountain it is on makes a good day stroll, but the best time to go is the early evening; that's when the real magic happens. The lights are extremely dim through the forest canopy and the entire area is alive with the sounds of the native wildlife. It makes for an extremely eerie walk through the maze of tori gates; it's even more exciting if you manage to get lost!

While there is still daylight it is
dark enough in the tori-tunnels...
But after the sun sets it can be
downright spine-chilling! This
could easily be the setting
for a Japanese horror movie!

Below are a few pictures taken at one of the
smaller shrines you can reach via the tori-shrouded paths.

While it is out of the way, a visit to this shrine is well worth the effort. Make sure you allot yourself plenty of time to explore the shrines and walk around the mountain.. I haven't seen anywhere else like it in all Japan!
Don't forget to buy a tori-gate souvenir!


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