Fushimi-ku, Temples-Shrines — February 22, 2011 at 6:32 PM

Fushimi Inari Taisha in Kyoto, Japan.

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Fushimi Inari Taisha:

(伏見稲荷大社) is the head shrine of Inari, located in Fushimi-ku, Kyoto. The shrine is said to have 32,000 sub-shrines – bunsha – throughout Japan. We went to Fushimi Inari a day before Setsubun when it was sunny and there weren’t too many people – a perfect day for temple-seeing. There are two ways to get into the temple – first is a smaller road flanked by souvenir shops and restaurants, and the second is the main entrance known as the Omote Sando which has a magnificent torii leading to the shrine steps. This shrine is said to be one of the richest in Japan. Fushimi Inari worships the fox which, coincidentally, has to do with money and success in life. First and foremost, though, Inari is the god of rice, and statues of foxes around Inari often have the attribute of a key to a rice granary in their mouth.

Before going up the stairs there will be an elaborate and decorative temizuya on your left. After you climb the steps there will be a main torii leading to the main temple grounds. There is a beautiful Haiden in the middle of the plaza, and behind that is the Honden, the main building for worship. On your left is a resting place where a beautiful painting decorates the back wall.

As you leave this area, to your left you can get souvenirs from the many shops that line the streets leading to the other shrines. From here on it’s a mildly steep climb which goes up the Inari Mountain. You will first see another torii, a few shops, and a full-sized stuffed horse which is enshrined. Further up is the beginning of the torii line-up. You’ll see a lot more shrines of various sizes going up the mountain through the lines of torii. Your will also come upon a pond which is lined with more shrines, and another larger shrine. From there is another 2000 steps which can take you to the top of the mountain under more lines of torii. An interesting fact to know is that these torii are bought by an individual, organization, or company. The smaller torii go for around $3000 and the bigger ones can go up to $13,000. There are also donated torii-lining footpaths which are part of the scenic view.

Inari Mountain is 253 meters above sea level, and the total size of the property is almost 900,000 square meters. If you want to visit all the shrines on foot it will take about two hours or more. But despite the daunting task, there are beautiful woods and bamboo forests around the paths, and is definitely worth the visit.

History:

The shrine became the object of Imperial patronage during the early Heian period. In 965, Emperor Murakami ordered that Imperial messengers were sent to report important events to the guardian kami of Japan. These heihaku were initially presented to 16 shrines including the Inari Shrine.

From 1871 through 1946, Fushimi Inari-taisha was officially designated one of the Kanpei-taisha (官幣大社), meaning that it stood in the first rank of government supported shrines.

A map of the area

The earliest structures were built in 711 on the Inariyama hill in southwestern Kyoto, but the shrine was re-located in 816 on the request of the monk Kūkai. The main shrine structure was built in 1499. At the bottom of the hill are the main gate (楼門, rōmon, “tower gate”) and the main shrine (御本殿, go-honden). Behind them, in the middle of the mountain, the inner shrine (奥宮, okumiya) is reachable by a path lined with thousands of torii. To the top of the mountain are tens of thousands of mounds (塚, tsuka) for private worship.

Unlike most Shinto shrines, Fushimi Inari Taisha, in keeping with typical Inari shrines, has an open view of the main idol object (a mirror).

A drawing in Kiyoshi Nozaki’s Kitsune: Japan’s Fox of Mystery, Romance and Humor in 1786 depicting the shrine says that its two-story entry gate was built by Toyotomi Hideyoshi.

The shrine draws several million worshipers over the Japanese New Year, 2.69 million for 3 days in 2006 reported by the police, the most in western Japan. See All Pictures Here!

For the official web site:click here!
You can find the Wikipedia link here!

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