Review

Fushimi Inari Taisha

As you may have gathered from my previous post, my parents came to visit me in Japan last week. I spent 8 days playing tour guide, giving them as much of a taster, of Japan, as I could cram into our limited time together. We managed to cover Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, Kobe, Arima and my current home town of Takasago, in that time. Also, while we were together, my parents brought me my birthday/Christmas present of a new DSLR camera. I therefore have a heap of photos of these places and I wanted a way to share them with you. I’m therefore going to be doing a series of travel related blog posts, highlighting the places I’ve visited while living in Japan. Hopefully these posts give you some ideas for your own travels to Japan, and also keep you updated about my life living overseas. And now all that’s out of the way, onto today’s blog post.

Characterised by its vermillion tori gates Fushimi Inari Taisha can be found a short train trip from the heart of Kyoto. This Shinto shrine is dedicated to the god, Inari. Primarily he is the god of rice, but also does a roaring side trade in being the patron god of businesses. Therefore, to get in Inari’s good books and to get business booming, many companies have donated tori gates to the shrine. Thousands of these gates now line trails spanning about 4 kilometres, on the mountainside above the main shrine.

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Scattered through the mountain trails are also numerous smaller shrines, sometimes precariously perched on the mountain face. When I went to Fushimi Inari Taisha with my parents, I did not get a chance to explore all 4 kilometres of tori gates and shrines. However, what I did get to explore was amazingly beautiful and relaxing, despite the hordes of tourists about (of which we were adding to).
 
Upon arriving at Fushimi Inari Shrine, you’ll be greeted by a large tori gate, which leads up to the main shrine. If you’ve been in Japan a while, this main shrine might not be that exciting but the real magic lies a short walk away with the tori gates. As you walk through the magical tori gates, which look like portals to another world, you will see some repeating images. The first are on the tori gates themselves. Each is inscribed with a name, generally in Japanese but sometimes in English. These are the names of the companies that have donated the gates to the shrine. I guess they act like a name tag so Inari remember which companies to bless and which ones to give bad fortunes (just kidding…maybe). The second repeated image you’ll see are stone foxes with some strange object in their mouths. These mainly appear in combination with a smaller shrine but sometimes are standalone statues. These statues represent Inari’s messenger, Kitsune (literally meaning fox in Japanese). The object the fox is holding in its mouth is generally a key to the secret stash of Inari’s special god rice. If the tori gates are a nice letter asking for blessings of good fortune, putting a statue of Kitsune out is a huge blimp that says, “Give me blessings!” All in red shouty capital letters and a fair few exclamation marks. Probably, I actually don’t know how dedications to god’s work…

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My hour of so spent at Fushimi Inari Taisha was excellent and I could have stayed for longer. Next time I visit I will definitely take the time to walk the entire trail. If you only have a short time in Kyoto and had to choose one shrine or temple to go visit, Fushimi Inari Taisha would be my current recommendation. It’s one of those places you can just get lost in for a few hours and feel relaxed, plus be surrounded by magical scenery.
 
If you want to check out Fushimi Inari Taisha for yourself, here are some details on how to get there.
 
Address:68 Fukakusa Yabunouchicho, Fushimi Ward, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture, 612-0882Getting there:

From Kyoto Station take the JR Nara Line train towards Joyo. Ride 2 stops and exit the train at the second stop, Inari Station (about a 5-minute trip). Head towards the big red tori gate you can see from Inari Station, about a 400m walk away. From there everything is signposted in English so you can find your way to the tori gates easily. Plus there will be tourists, people in kimonos and basically every man and his dog to follow, so you shouldn’t get lost!

Cost:

A train ticket? (Although if you have a JR pass not even that).
Entry to the shrine is free, but if you want to make an offering to Inari at the main shrine, you should have a few coins to throw. How to make an offering at a Shinto Shrine might be something I cover at a later date.
Also, be sure to bring some money, because Fushimi Inari Taisha is a great place to pick up some souvenirs. It also a great place to taste some commonly offered Japanese festival foods, especially if you’re not travelling during festival season.
 
I hope you get a chance to see Fushimi Inari Taisha. If you go, tag me in the pictures you take! I’d love to share in your experiences.
 
You can find me on: 
Instagram – @thefancifulfungirl
Facebook – facebook.com/thefancifulfungirl
And a soon to be released youtube channel
Youtube – *link*
 
Until next time!

Melissa.

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