Fushimi Inari Taisha
In all of Japan, there are about 32,000 Shinto sanctuaries dedicated to important god Inari. The main sanctuary and head of the entire network is located in the city of Kyoto. Known worldwide for its more than 10,000 torii gates in a row, the Fushimi Inari Taisha shrine attracts around 3 million visitors the first three days of the year alone and is one of the most famous attractions of Kyoto.
The sanctuary is located at the base of Mount Inari and includes many minor sanctuaries that span the 4 kilometers to the top of the 233-meter high mountain. Each of the gates of the sanctuary (torii) has been donated by an individual or a Japanese business in the hope of receiving good luck and fortune. The donor’s name is written in black ink on the back of each gate.
The main structure of the sanctuary was built in 1499 and is designated as an important cultural asset of Japan. The sacred enclosure contains five sanctuaries: a lower sanctuary, a middle sanctuary, a higher sanctuary, and auxiliary sanctuaries. Fushimi Inari Taisha is also famous for appearing in the famous film ‘Memoirs of a Geisha’.
The god Inari has a very important role in the Shinto religion as Inari is the god of rice, sake, tea, agriculture, fertility, foxes, and business. Inari today is seen as one of the greatest protectors of the people of Japan. It is said that Inari is kind and very beautiful. They describe the god as having long black hair, wearing a vermilion kimono, it is androgynous and so beautiful that if it were presented to regular people on earth they could even faint from so much light. Therefore, god Inari sends his fox messengers to the earth to take the worshipers’ news, so in all Inari sanctuaries, you will see two foxes guarding the entrance.
Visiting the Fushimi Inari Shrine is a wonderful experience and is recommended to any enthusiastic traveler. The large number of people who visit this sanctuary daily is amazing. Beyond the sanctuary, a (challenging) mountain walk ends with a wonderful view of Kyoto and the main sanctuary. Inside the main sanctuary, omamori (amulets) are sold for good luck, health, prosperity, etc.
The Fushimi Inari Shrine is one of those must-sees for all tourists who come to Kyoto, and it is recommended to either come early in the morning or later in the evening to avoid the crowds and enjoy a quiet, ethereal experience.
From Inari (JR Line) or Fushimi-Inari (Keihan Line) station
The sanctuary is open twenty-four hours a day, so you can enjoy an exciting night walk if you want to, or you can visit early in the morning to take some nice pictures without other tourists.