Fushimi Inari Shrine

by Kieran July. 01, 2008 2444 views

Fushimi Inari Shrine
This is Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto. It's dedicated to the fox god who is the lowest of the shinto gods.

The main gate above hasnt been repainted in a long time so it looks very faded when compared to the bright and bold torii gate in front of it…

Fox Statues
This is one of the statues of the fox god that stands guard at the entrance to the shrine. He has a key in his mouth nd wears a sort of bib around its neck. These are offerings of clothes madeto the fox spirit and almost all of these statues have them.

Main Gate
This is the view above the doorway of the main gate.

Smaller Shrine
This is the entrance to one of the smaller shrines on the site.

Shinto Priests
Whilst we were visiting the shrine there was a great purification festival going on that takes place only twice a year. The priests and priestesses of shrine parade through the grounds and prayers are said and rituals carried out to purify the souls of those present.

Shinto Priestesses
Here are some of the priestesses of the the shrine taking part in the same festival.

The priests and priestesses lined up in the grounds of the shrine in their ceremonial attire whilst prayers were said and purifying rituals carried out.

Younger Priests
There were quite a few younger priests within the ranks such as those visible here.

The thing that this shrine is world famous for is it's massive collection of torii gates which literally cover the entire mountain that the shrine is built on. The lines of gates form tunnels connecting different parts of the shrine site together so you can jourmey about through them to other buildings all over the mountain. Here's Jessica standing in a tunnel!

More Torii
All these gates are bought by businesses or individuals and donated to the shrine. If you donate a gate to the shrine it's to bring you better fortunes with your business. It's very expensive to have a gate here and there's a long waiting list too! it's hard to believe they have any space left to fit more…

Tunnel Split
Here's a point where two tunnels of torii gates meet at a little courtyard area further up the mountain. You never know where you're going to end up when you go through one end of a tunnel of gates…

More Gates
Another view down a torii tunnel…

Gates And Forests
The paths that link the various buildings on the mountain are surrounded by wooded areas so following the tunnels is the only way to move around. It's quite fun to enter the maze and follow its winding bright red path! something quite magical about it.

Takako And A Big Gate
This is Jessica's mother Takako standing by one of the larger gates that serves as an entrance to another long tunneling path.

And here's me with some gates…

Mini Shrine
Here's one of the many little shrines dotted about all over the mountain dedicated to the fox god.

Why All the Torii
The purpose of these many torii is to make peace with the beast gods who think differently to humans. By doing this it ensures that the fox spirits won't haunt people. Fox spirits are said to be tricksters.

Some more fox god statues in a shrine on the mountain, again wearing bibs. As with the two at the entrance to the shrine one has a key in its mouth and the other some kind of ball. Im not sure what these signify exactly…

Where ever she goes Jessica makes friends with small furry catcreatrures. It seems to be one of her missions in life! There were quite a lot of cats wandering about the shrine for some reason….

Lines Of Gates
More tunnels of gates… some parts of the paths have gaps where older gates have decayed or collapsed and been removed.

Gate Paths
Another path of gates through the trees of the mountain.

From Above
This is the view from further up looking down on one of the tunnels of gates. Because tje tunnels are so long and enclosed and the mountain so wooded it's hard to find a place where you can see the extent and length of any of these paths in one photo…

Business Names
The writing on the pillars of these gates are the names of the companies or individuals who donated them.

Fox God Shrine
Yet another little fox god shrine!

Lots of Fox God Shrines!
I liked this area because it looks almost like a shrine graveyard… a little alleyway with many tiny shrines to the fox god all along it. As you head back down the mountain out of the tunnels of torii there's an area with a huge amount of small shrines owned by many different religious groups. This set of shrines falls in that area.

Bamboo Hoop
To pass through this hoop in the correct way you prepare yourself for the heat of the summer. All shinto shrines in Japan have one of these at this time of the year as summer fast approaches…

Another Fox God Statue
Another fox god statue… they were everywhere!

Shrine Building
This is one of the main buildings in the lower part of the shrine site. You can pray here by donating some money and ringing one of the bells that hangs from the structure. There's a specific ritual involved in praying at a shinto shrine… first you donate some money, usually by throwing it into a trough in the building, then you bow twice and clap twice, make a wish, bow once again and you're done!

Another Shrine Building
Here's another of the main shrine buildings. Apologies if the perspective looks a little wonky! it's a panoramic created by sticking several photos together in a row but things didnt turn out quite as well as i hoped they would…

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