Fushimi Inari-Taisha Shrine

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Ladies dressed in traditional kimono at Fushimi Inari Shrine

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.

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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.

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Worshippers can buy a fox statue from a nearby temple; then make their prayers and place the fox statues near the shrine

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The fox statue is one of a pair of Komainu who guard the entrance to the shrine

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.

Price of torii gate according to height

Price of torii gate according to height (Approximately 120 yen to US$1)  I’m not sure if this is an annual fee or a one-time fee

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.

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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.

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Omamori

IMG_4205Instead of carrying the omamori, you can also buy a prayer and hang it along one of the shrine’s walls.

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All throughout the area, there are many smaller shrines and places to pray.

 

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