Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Fushimi Inari, Fox Shrine

The first shrine I visited while in Kyoto was Fushimi Inari. This is a rather unique shrine dedicated to the Shinto god Inari, god of business and rice. Though, the element which most visitors will remember is the many images of foxes, which are believed to be messengers of Inari. The shrine is located next to a small mountain and it's possible to take quite a long hike up, but given my time constraints on this trip, I didn't do the hike, I just walked around and enjoyed the surroundings.

They say that 2.69 million people visited this shrine in the New Year in 2006, which gives you some idea of the popularity and prominence of this particular shrine. When visitors come to a shrine or temple for the new year, they ring a bell and make a prayer for the new year.

This shrine's most famous attribute, though, is its torii, or gates. They number in the thousands and have line the paths that lead through the mountain. Each was donated by a business, and if you could read Japanese, you would be able to see the name of the company and how much money was donated to the temple for the gate to be built.

After wondering around for about 45 minutes, I made my way into the center of Kyoto and on to some other temples in the western part of the city. But, before leaving, I took a photo of these foxes, because they're so darn cute.

Fushimi Inari was probably my favorite of all the shrines I saw in Japan. I highly recommend going a little out of your way to get to this shrine, and hopefully you have more time than I to do some hiking around the mountain paths. I arrived here by getting off the subway at Fushimi Inari Station on the Keihan line and following the signs and other tourists from the station. The entrance less than a 5 minutes walk from the station. It's impossible to miss!

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