Saturday, October 20, 2012

Fushimi Inari Shrine

First on our list of shrines and temples in Kyoto was the Fushimi Inari Shrine. The whole area has multiple shrines dedicated the the gods of rice and sake. The shrine is at the base of a mountain with many trails leading around the mountain, to a small lake, and to various other shrines.

Built in 1499

It is a good walk from the bus stop and the streets are lined with stores and vendors. According to our brochure they were selling small "cookies of fortune". They are from the 19th century and are said to be the start of fortune cookies. That's right, folks. Your Chinese dessert really started in Japan.

After browsing through a few stores we continued up the mountain to the main shrine. There were many people walking around and worshipping in this area. We walked through the prayer areas and came across an entry gate guarded by foxes.

The foxes are a symbol of messengers. One has a key in his mouth for the rice granary and the other a ball.

One of the main draws for this shrine is the hundreds of torii gates on the trails around the mountains. It is an amazing sight. Each torii is donated by businesses and the shrine as a whole is often visited to pray for wealth.

A little down the path we came to a fork. Which way should we take?

Finally we came to an inner shrine where visitors would write their prayers on cardboard foxes and hang them on the shrine.

Fushimi Inari was interesting to visit. We have seen the torii gates before all over Japan but never so many in one place. It was a beautiful sight. We spent a few hours hiking around the mountain, following the torii paths, and enjoying the fall colors.

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