Kyoto offers the human monuments so often associated with Eastern imagery. With 17 UNESCO World Heritage sites and thousands of temples and shrines, Kyoto has an exhaustive list of things to see. Before every shrine and temple became jumbled together, I went to see the Fushimi Inari Shrine.
The indigenous religion of Japan is Shintoism. As Wikipedia describes it, Shintoism is “as an action-centered religion focused on ritual practices to be carried out diligently, to establish a connection between present-day Japan and its ancient past.” Roughly speaking, people visit shrines to worship the gods associated with different purposes. For instance, Inari is the Shinto god of rice and foxes are regarded as his messengers. Thus, I found fox statues throughout the shrine grounds.
Although Inari is the god of rice and prayers for a good harvest, the shrine has become a place for merchants and business folk to pray for good fortune. Businesses can buy the shrine’s iconic, orange torii gate to gain favor at the shrine. The fronts of the gates are relatively plain while the backs of the gates have the names of the business sponsoring them.
You can make the trek up to the top of Mt. Inari all the while walking beneath these torii gates. My understanding is that it takes 1.5 – 2 hours.
If you don’t have the coin to pay for a torii gate, you can also buy omamori, Japanese charms or amulets. Each type is a different type of prayer.
All throughout the area, there are many smaller shrines and places to pray.