Japan · Life in Japan

Kyoto: Part II – Fushimi Inari Shrine

So over Spring vacation, my mom and I travelled to Kyoto to do a bit of exploring. One of the main attractions for us was the Fushimi Inari Shrine – the one that has paths lined with thousands of torii gates that run all the way up a mountain.

A little bit of history and info

The first structures of the shrine were built in 711AD; and the shrine was built to honour Inari, the god of rice. But in a more general view the god, Inari, is also seen as the patron of business. Hence, each torii gate that lines the many paths are donated by Japanese businesses, hoping for blessings from Inari. As you walk along the paths you will notice that every gate has the name of a business or company. Most of them are written in Japanese, but I did spot an English one, which if I remember correctly was for a bakery.

The shrine is also full of fox statues (kitsune in Japanese). The foxes are regarded as messengers and are shown holding a key for a rice granary in their mouths.

On the day we visited the shrine it was incredibly busy, with a lot of people aiming to walk the 4km route up to the top of the mountain. We chose to take a quieter path, that didn’t ascend too much, in order to avoid the crowds (steering clear of the main ‘straight-up-the-mountain’ path) and were able to take some nice pics along the way.

The entrance gate
A fox statue

The start of one of the paths up the mountain
The torii gates with the various names of businesses written on each one
A rare moment when no one is in the photo – you wouldn’t believe how hard this is to achieve, especially when coming on a day when it is so busy.
This particular area we came across along the route was full of small shrines, each with their own fox statues
These are candle holders, without candles. Why? Because the crows in the area eat the candles! Seriously, I actually watched it happening when I first visited the shrine 2 years ago on holiday. What drives them to eat the candles I will never know…
A cat!! And a friendly one at that too. 🙂
It is incredibly beautiful walking through the mountain, and very peaceful.
Just outside the shrine grounds there are a number of food stalls set up. This guy was selling dango – a sweet dumpling made with rice flour (similar to mochi)
We decided to try some takoyaki, ‘octopus balls’, which is made from a flour-based batter cooked with pieces of octopus and other ingredients like pickled ginger and green onion.

And this, along with my previous post, sums up our time in Kyoto. Hope you enjoyed the pics as much as I enjoyed taking them. 😉


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