Kyoto Part 1:Fushimi-Inari Taisha

Kyoto has the honour of being the first road trip I’ve taken since I arrived in Japan. Since I did a fair bit in 4 days, I decided to break it up into several parts. And what better way than to start with the stunning Fushimi-Inari shrine! I’ve also put a video up on my YouTube channel so be sure to check it out.

*Scroll to the end for details on how to get there.

tori entrance
Main gate of Fushimi-Inari Taisha
Kitsune 2
One of the MANY kitsune (fox in Japanese).

Torii 4You’ve probably seen its iconic red torii gates in movies (Memoirs of a Geisha to name one) or even photographs. They are absolutely enchanting, a bright vermilion, lining most of the 4-5 km trail up the mountain. Founded in 711 AD, the shrine and the mountain it sits on both bare the name Inari. Fun fact: famous cosmetic company Shiseido revers Inari and even have shrines on top of their corporate headquarters!

Torii lamp 2

torii 2torii 6Inari is the main Japanese Shinto deity of foxes, fertility, rice, tea (and sake), agriculture, and financial prosperity. Foxes, or kitsune in Japanese, act as messengers for Inari and are pure white. And you will get your fill of foxes while there, either big statues with a key (for the rice granary) in their mouth or small icons places at the base of tori. I find the foxes absolutely delightful and along with the torii they provide all the character and charm of the area. Walking up to the entrance you’ll encounter many vendors selling fox masks, key chines, cookies and basically anything you can transform into a fox… I got a charm for my cellphone!

Torii n kitsune.jpg

Kitsune 3kitsune masksTorii n kitsune 2torri n kitsune.jpgSince this shrine is dedicated to a deity associated with prosperity, allllllllllll those red torii you see were actually donated by a patron upon their wish being fulfilled; the right hand side bears their name and the left hand side the date it was donated. Although I didn’t do the whole trail –it was 35 degrees hiking up that mountain!- I did get my fill of these vermillion beauties. Despite the decent amount of tourists, the area is peaceful and surprisingly quiet.

Although the torii are the show stealers, let’s not forget about the other buildings in the complex! Past the main gate is the dance stage where the Miko (shrine maidens) perform during yearly rituals and to its right is a small subshrine named Higashimaru-jinja Shrine.

Temple entrance
Another view of the Fushimi-Inari Taisha main gate.
Lamps
The back of the stage where the shrine maidens dance.

 

torii 5

small temple.jpgThe latter is also were I experience my first dose of harassment… fuuuuuuuuuuun. A random Japanese man has been very angered by my presence and proceeded to repeatedly yell at me and then physically intimidate me by pushing himself on me. He also yelled at me to get out of Japan, clearly oblivious to the fact that I was among MANY foreign tourists… But the most unpleasant part was the employee at the shrine who refused to come to my help (despite my calling him over), laughed at me from his booth and then told me to get out when I confronted him. Crazy right?! So, if this should happen to you: Snap a picture of the offender (in this case I felt the employee had behaved worse than the random crazy man) and proceed to the nearest information area and make a complaint. But most importantly, don’t let it ruin your day in such a beautiful place!

water reflection vertical.jpg

Sake.jpgTorii lampTorii black n whiteI believe you can visit the shrine at night? I’ve also read that it’s a popular destination for hatsumode (first shrine visit of the new year); I don’t know if there’s snow at that time but if there is it must be quite a sight to behold.

So there you have it: Fushimi-Inari Taisha!

HOW TO GET THERE

68 Yabunouchi-cho, Fukakusa, Fushimi-ku

kyoto map

FROM THE EAST

  1. Take a train to Fushimi (Keihan Line)
  2. Get off at Keihan Fushimi-Inari Station.
  3. Walk out of the station.
  4. Take a left and walk up the hill (follow the tourists)
  5. You will see the first torii of the shrine.
  6. You’ve arrived!

FROM EVERY OTHER DIRECTION 

  1. Take take the JR Nara line.
  2. Get off at Inari Station.
  3. You will see the first torii of the shrine.
  4. You’ve arrived!
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