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.
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.
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.
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.
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.