In Kyoto: The vermilion gateways of Fushima Inari-taisha

 

It’s one of the most beautiful places to see in Kyoto. In fact, it ranks as one of the most visited.

 

Fushima Inari-taisha
Access by train

 

Thousands of vermilion torii gates set up closely creating a tunnel. I just had to see it for myself. In fact, it would be great to recreate that “Memoirs of a Geisha” daytime scene of a kimono-clad young girl running across the vividly colored picturesque tunnel. That would be one for the books.

 

Fushima Inari-taisha
How many toriis are in this shrine?

 

Upon reaching the Fushima Inari-taisha, doing the same scene was next to impossible. I wasn’t the only one dreaming to do the same scene. Hundreds and perhaps thousands of other tourists want the same thing. Even a solo shot in a vacant torii tunnel posed as a problem.

 

Fushima Inari-taisha
This many people on the way to the famous shrine.

 

Fushima Inari-taisha
Stock up on energy before a tour or replenish after. Grab a bite of Japanese delights from the food stalls along the path to the shrine’s main entrance

 

Fushima Inari-taisha
First glimpse of the shrine

 

Fushima Inari-taisha
The main shrine grounds of the the Fushima Inari

 

How did the more than ten thousand toriis rise?

 

Fushima Inari-taisha
A walk through the vermilion toriis of Fushima Inari-taisha in Kyoto

 

Fushimi Inari-taisha, a Shinto shrine, was established in 711AD and is the head shrine of Inari. It is the dedicated to the Inari, the Shinto god of rice, fertility, agriculture and industry.

 

Fushima Inari-taisha
The fox symbolizes the messengers

 

There are several stories of the shrine’s origin—an auspicious event involving a swan, of priests’ constant holding of festivals where the deity Inari Okami was enshrined in a plateau during the Wado era, and an empress order to enshrine three deities in three mountains on the first Day of the Horse of the second month of 711, and each of the story ends with a bountiful rice harvest.

 

Fushima Inari-taisha
Let’s start the torii run

 

 

Since early times, citizens and businessmen have visited the shrine to pray for bountiful harvests, prosperity in business, and personal wishes to be granted.

With the requests for divine intervention come torii gates that symbolizes the passing of wishes and prayers from people to diety. The thousands of torii gateways we see in Fushima Inari are all donations, and inscribed on each gate is the name of the donor.

 

Fushima Inari-taisha

 

Fushima Inari-taisha

 

Fushima Inari-taisha
I am now at the Tumatakasha

 

Fushima Inari-taisha

 

Fushima Inari-taisha
Sannomine- kumatakasha

 

These toriis form a trail that leads into the wooded forest and to the peak of the 233-meter high Mt. Inari and down. It’s a two to three hour hike up the sacred mountain and back.

It took me more than three hours though. Why? Because at every photograph-worthy zone I stop and shoot, and the best of which were snapped at the high points.

 

Fushima Inari-taisha

 

Fushima Inari-taisha
This view of Kyoto from the sacred moiuntain

 

So you want your solo shots, your very own “memoirs” video running through the torii gates? Go past the Yotsutsuji intersection, a viewing area about 30 to 45 minutes from the starting point, the Senbon Torii. As you go higher, the density of visitors decreases, and at some point you will have your alone-in-the-shrine moment.

 

Fushima Inari-taisha
The mountain pond called Shin-ike

 

I had mine, in fact, I took home several of those dream shots. Not only that, I made it to the peak of the shrine, the Ninomine.

 

Fushima Inari-taisha
Proof that I made it to the top

 

Fushima Inari-taisha
Top of the shrine, Ichinomine

 

It was dusk when I made it back to the midway viewing point, where I caught Kyoto turning on its city lights. Suffice to say, the dark of night enveloped the city when I made it back to the main temple grounds.

 

Fushima Inari-taisha

 

Fushima Inari-taisha

 

Fushima Inari-taisha

 

Fushima Inari-taisha
Kyoto at dusk. Seen from the viewing deck at the Yotsutsuji intersection 30-45 minutes trek from the starting point

 

Fushima Inari-taisha

 

Fushima Inari is truly one of the most iconic sights in Kyoto.

 

Fushima Inari-taisha
The Haiden. In Shinto shrine architecture, the haiden is the hall of worship and generally placed in front of the shrine’s main sanctuary (honden)

 

Fushima Inari-taisha
The Romon. The building is said to have been built by the regent Toyotomi Hideyoshi in 1589

 

Fushima Inari-taisha

 

And about the foxes that adorn the shrine. Inari Okami is not a fox. Foxes are said to be messenger of the diety. These messengers can’t be seen this is why they are called byakkosan or “white foxes.”

For lifestyle stories, visit www.ofapplesandlemons.com

Also published in the SunStar Davao newspaper.

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