おはようございます！ Of all the beautiful places we saw, the shrine Fushimi Inari Taisha was our absolute favourite. It’s just 10 minutes from Kyoto Station, so on our last day we dropped off our luggage at some lockers, hopped on the train, and explored this magical place before we returned to Tatebayashi and everyday life.
From the entrance, Fushimi Inari Taisha looks just like every other shrine in Kyoto:
Inari is one of the most important kami in Shintoism; namely, it is the kami of rice, but is also worshipped in regards to fertility, tea and sake, agriculture, industry, and luck and success in general; Inari has also served as the patron of blacksmiths and warriors for centuries. The messengers of Inari are foxes, so there were fox statues galore!
We arrived early around 8:30 to avoid the crowds. I recommend going not just for that, but for atmosphere at this time of day: peaceful, quiet, and cool.
The real magic of this place began just beyond this first torii gate. As Inari is a kami of success, all of the torii have been donated by businesses. There are over 10,000!
Some are smaller, like the ones in the hallway above; this one you might recognise if you’ve ever seen Memoirs of a Geisha. But there were also huge ones that towered over us like some grand tunnel of prayer through the mountain forests.
If I lived in Kyoto, I would go for a walk here every single day.
We reached an absolutely gorgeous cemetery area a little ways up. There were plots for families from all across Japan.
Some of these plots were very crowded! I’m not sure of the significance of the torii gates here, but someone definitely made sure they wouldn’t run out any time soon!
Paul made a remark as we came back down the mountain – Shintoism, he said, seems content to put something up and let nature claim it. I have to say, it’s an aesthetic that really works for me!
I was truly sad we didn’t take a day to hike to the top of the mountain. We went about a third of the way up before turning around, because we didn’t want to miss our train (and I was still recovering from my bout of sickness). This is, without a doubt, a place I want to return to to explore thoroughly.
Even cooler – the road down transformed into a neighbourhood! For a long moment I was insanely jealous of all the lucky people who live there right beside such a beautiful historical place. Then I noticed how narrow the roads are – surely no room for a car – and imagined how congested this area must be in peak tourist season. How would you get your groceries home?? Maybe I’ll be content to just visit.
And there you go! Fushimi Inari Taisha, one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. Be sure to visit this place if you’re ever in Japan – you will remember it forever!