Photo by Basile Morin – Wikimedia

Top 7 Remarkable facts about Fushimi Inari-Taisha, Japan


 

Fushimi Inari Taisha is one of the most important Shinto Shrines in Kyoto, Japan. It is also one of the most visited by tourists due to its impressive orange gates.

This Shinto Shrine is located in southern Kyoto at the foot of Mount Inari. It was dedicated to Fushimi Inari Taisha, the god of rice, sake and prosperity and patron of business merchants.

Getting to this Shrine, one has to hike up the mountain which is 764 feet above sea level. There are smaller shrines dotting the trail that stretches for about 2.5 miles.

Fushimi Inari-Taisha is mainly associated with the god of rice by farmers who worship her for the fertility of the land as well as a good harvest.  However, manufacturers and business people also worship her as their patron of business.

To learn more about this holy shrine, check out the top 7 facts about Fushimi Inari-Taisha.

1. Fushimi Inari is the oldest Shinto shrine in Japan

Photo by Kakidai – Wikimedia

Fushimi Inari-Taisha was established in 711, making it one of the oldest shrines in Kyoto.

In 942, the shrine was given the highest rank among Shinto shrines, subsequently, in 1499, the beautiful and ornate main shrine structure was built.

The country then made Fushimi Inari Taisha an Important Cultural Property. Based on a legend, the locals believe that rice cake was thrown into the air and turned into a swan.

The swan then flew to the peak of Mount Inari. Soon after, rice started growing on the mountain and this became the head shrine for Inari Okami.

This is the Japanese god of rice, sake, and prosperity, and the patron of businesses, merchants and manufacturers.

2. Fushimi Inari Shrine is one of the most visited attractions in Japan

Millions of people from across Japan, and from around the world come to pray for fruitful harvests, business success, and other blessings.

This shrine receives most of its visitors during the New Year prayers in Japan, one of the most important calendar days.

People of all ages and walks of life gather here to pray for plentiful harvests, success in business, and the hope of their wishes and dreams coming true.

Other than worship, some of the visitors here visit to admire the shrines and explore the mountain trails.

One of the oldest gates here is the Romon Gate which was donated in 1589 by Toyotomi Hideyoshi.

It is located behind the shrine’s main hall and visitors always pay their respects and make small offerings at the gate.

3. Fushimi Inari Shrine has several small shrines

Photo by Jakub Hałun – Wikimedia

Fushimi Inari Taisha has many smaller sub-shrines spread along the 4 kilometres stretch of the mountain.

This shrine is made up of five main shrines; lower, middle, upper and two auxiliary shrines. There are also several many smaller sub-shrines.

The most sacred of them all is Mount Inari, which is considered to be the god of rice.

To get to the top, one will pass through thousands of Torii gates is located behind Fushimi Inari. It is here that one will find the hiking trail leading up the mountain.

4. Fushimi Inari-Taisha Shrine was relocated

Fushimi Inari Taisha was originally located on Inariyama hill, in the southwest of Kyoto.

It was then relocated to its present and permanent home by the Hata family in 816.

Change of guard happened in 942 when it was given the highest rank among Shinto shrines.

Several centuries later, in 1499, then the beautiful and ornate main shrine structure was built.

Japan then designated Fushimi Inari Taisha as an Important Cultural Property.

At the top of the mountain are tens of thousands of mounds used for private worship.

5. There are several fox statues in Fushimi Inari Shrine

Photo by Fumihiko Ueno – Wikimedia

One feature at this shrine is the dozen conspicuous fox statues all around Fushimi Inari Taisha shrines.

A fox is regarded as a messenger of the gods by the Japanese. They also believe that it is closely associated with the god of rice, Inari Okami.

These fox statues have keys in their mouth symbolizing the protectors of rice granaries. The foxes are well respected and worshipped.

One of the main differences between Shintoism and Buddhism, the two most popular religions in Japan, is that Shinto is animistic and polytheistic.

O the other hand, Buddhism is a monotheistic and organised religion whose rules and doctrines can be traced back to the Buddha in the 5th Century BCE.

6. The Torii of Fushimi Inari are one of the popular attractions

Photo by Basile Morin – Wikimedia

At the back of the shrine’s main grounds is the Senbon Torii. This is the entrance to the torii gate covered hiking trail.

It also marks the beginning of two thick, parallel rows of gates; the main reason most foreign visitors come to Fushimi Inari Taisha.

Senbon Torii is a traditional Japanese gate usually found at the entrance of or within a Shinto shrine. It symbolizes the transition from the mundane to the sacred.

Each of the famous torii shrine gates is a generous donation by an individual or a Japanese business person. They do this with the hope of receiving good luck and fortune.

When one donates a gate, their name is inscribed in black ink on the back of each gate.

The reddish/orange colour of the gates represent the sun. Many visitors come to the shrine to see the famous Senbon Torii. It’s a brilliant spot for photos and a lovely place to trail to explore on foot.

7. Getting to the Fushimi Inari is  quite climb

Going to the top of the mountain is literally an uphill task. If you are not athletic, then gradually climb at your own pace.

This trail is still quite long and continues to climb, luckily there are platforms along the way that you can stop by and catch a breath.

A hike up Mount Inari may take between 40 minutes to 1 hour. The view to the top is very picturesque.

There are a few cafés that offer them dishes, for example, Inari Sushi and Japanese noodle soup.