Located about 2km south-east of Kyōto station, Fushimi Inari Taisha is without doubt the largest and most impressive Inari shrine in Japan.
Fushimi Inari Taisha was founded in the 8th century by the Hata family and is the head shrine of no less than 30,000 Inari branch shrines nationwide.
The sanctuary is composed of several buildings, including the Sakura-mon Gate (桜門) and Go-Honden Shrine (御本殿), followed by a 4km tunnel made of thousands of red torii gates making their way through the woods.
The 4km walk through the torii tunnel to the top of the Inari-san hill can be a strenuous one, especially in the heat of summer. That does not discourage some joggers to use the place as a training ground, at the stupefaction of tourists. Two large ponds and several small waterfalls can be found in the maze of torii, depending on which path you decide to follow.
Statues of menacing kitsune (foxes), said to have the magic power to take possession of human spirits, alternate with torii gates. The fox is however reverred to as the god of harvest (rice and other cereals), and is often seen carrying a key in his mouth, which is for the rice granary. Foxes are said to love rice balls rolled in fried tofu, which are called for that reason "o-inari-san". They can be purchased in about any sushi shops.
Visiting Fushimi Inari Taisha in the late afternoon as the sun slowly sets can be a thrilling experience and is definitely recommended for those believing in the "spirits of the forest".
- On 1 April, flower arrangements are displayed from 11am.
- On 8 April, the Sangyo-sai (産業際), or literaly "Industry Festival" has for aim to assure the prosperity of the nation. Dances are performed and offerings given in large quantities.
Incidentally, all the torii gates at the Fushimi Inari are sponsored by Japanese companies or local governments, with the benefactors' name written on the back. Prices vary with size, ranging from the small 30cm high torii to the 3m tall ones.
- On 11-12 October, Ko-in Matsuri has nenbutsu dances (1pm to 2pm) and kyōgen performance (11am).
- On 25 October, the Nukiho Matsuri (rice harvest festival) has sacred dances and women in traditional Shintō dress performing the ritual of rice harvesting.
Opening Hours & Admission
Like nearly all Shinto shrines, Fushimi Inari Taisha is open 24h a day all year-round and admission is free.
How to get there
Fushimi Inari Taisha is best accessed by train. Take either the JR Nara line and get off at Inari station (2 stops from Kyōto stations), or alternatively, take the Keihan line and alight at Fushimi-Inari Station.
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