Fushimi Inari-taisha

Brilliant day! We woke up and not a cloud to be seen, so off to see the 10000s of Torii gates at Fushimi Inari-taisha.

This is the place where the headshrine to Inari is located. Inari being the kami (god/ess) of fertility, rice, agriculture, foxes, industry and worldly success. Inari has been represented as he, she, and androgynous and is one of the main Kami of Shinto. More than 1/3 of Shinto shrines are dedicated to Inari and that’s about 32000 of them. In fact a small shrine can be found just off “temple street” and I will post some pictures of that soon.

Inari’s foxes, known as kitsune, are white and it/his/her messengers. At Shinto shrines you often see a pair at the entrance and most times they have something under a paw or in their mouths (jewel, scroll, key, sheaf of rice).
Inari is said to be found of fried tofu, and a sushi (Inari sushi) is named after her (I’m going to refer to Inari as her because it’s simply easier than it/him/her). Inarisushi is a pocket of fried tofu filled with rice, and is said to look like a fox due to the upturned corners. I only know that The Smurg loves them.

As Inari is seen as the Kami of industry and worldly success most of the Torii here are donated by businesses. There are thousands of these gates lining the way to the summit of Mt. Inari, the cost starts around 400,000 yen for a small-sized gate and increases to over one million yen for a large gate (at the moment 100 yen is around $1.10). You will find though a lot of small gates, small enough to find in your handbag or a shopping bag (to give you an idea of size) along the way and on/next to the smaller shrines.

The trail up the mountain starts with two dense, parallel rows of gates called Senbon Torii (“thousands of torii gates”). The writing you see is the name of the company/person who donated the gate.

Kitsune with a key in its mouth, the key is said the represent the key to the granary.

Torii interrupted by a row of lanterns.

Sometimes it pays to look beyond the obvious attraction. I spotted this tiny tiny shrine to Inari, the statues of Kitsune are about 5-10cm tall.

Solitary stone Torii between the crimson ones.

Group of small shrines along the path to the summit. See the smaller shrines donated by those less well off

Small torii gates on a shrine

Candles on a shrine

Moss covered trees and Torii

Another tiny shrine hidden behind some Torii

Chōzubachi outside the shrine with the candles

Ema (votive plaques) in the shape of Kitsune. I love how some of them had their faces redrawn/modified

More ema, this time in the shape of the Torii gates.


Lanterns along the roof of the building that sells ema

Map of the site

I really enjoyed my day here. There was a complete sense of peace, and it was quiet. The quietness surprised me most for such a busy tourist and religious location.
And it shows that beauty and peace can be find in the most unlikely places

Tomorrow off for some Zen before going home



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