Fushimi Inari

Torii Gates @ Fushimi Inari, Kyoto, Japan

Fushimi Inari-Taisha was originally described to me as “the place with the orange tunnels.”

Many people became familiar with Fushimi Inari from the movie “Memoirs of a Geisha.” I am not one of them. I never saw the movie.

Fushimi Inari, Kyoto, Japan
Approaching the entrance, it’s hard not to notice the massive torii gates that straddle the path.

We passed a few gift shops off to the side. They sell all manner of trinkets, and had some reasonably priced handmade wooden torii gates for sale. They’re probably supposed to be used for some sort of ritual or offering but we bought a few just for the sake of having them.

Gift Shops @ Fushimi Inari, Kyoto, Japan
No shrine is complete without tasteful gold accents on every crossbeam. Things like this would never last in America. Some meth-head would rip it out and try to sell it to a scrapyard.

Fushimi Inari @ Kyoto, Japan
Being a shrine, there is an obligatory purification fountain inside the entrance.

Fountain @ Fushimi Inari, Kyoto, Japan
The fountains are one of the more interesting things about every shrine we visit. They are all similar but still so unique. The water looks tempting to drink but I doubt that’s what it’s there for.

Fountain @ Fushimi Inari, Kyoto, Japan

The “tunnels” are comprised of consecutive wooden torii gates.

Torii are a Shinto construct, so wherever they are present, there is generally a Shinto shrine nearby. Over time the torii found its way into Buddhist temples as well so there is no longer any clear distinction, though the Buddhist ones tend to be smaller. Torii can be made of either stone or wood.

Torii Gates @ Fushimi Inari, Kyoto, Japan
Inari is considered a god of business or commerce, and so each of the torii gates on-site are purchased by corporations and donated to the shrine. There are so many torii gates at Fushimi Inari that no new donations are accepted until an existing gate decays. Some gates seem to be in pretty rough shape while others are brand new.

Decaying Torii Gate @ Fushimi Inari, Kyoto, Japan
The grounds were so sprawling that we did not have time to explore them all. Apparently there are some shrine buildings we didn’t even find. After a while the gates all sort of blend together and you lose your sense of direction along with small amounts of your humanity.

There is a small shrine-ish area with some things we’d not seen before and have no idea what any of it means. Part of the setup did involve mini-torii like the ones we bought from the gift shop.

All over Fushimi Inari, there are icons and statues of foxes (kitsune). I don’t remember their backstory exactly but got the impression that lore-wise they were kind of assholes. I could be confusing it with Naruto though, so don’t quote me on that.

Kitsune Fox @ Fushimi Inari, Kyoto, Japan


Pro-family and anti-drug, when he's not too busy living with four beautiful ladies, he likes long walks on the beach and poking dead things with sticks.

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