IT’S one of the most beautiful places to see in Kyoto. In fact, it ranks as one of the most visited.
Thousands of vermilion torii gates set up closely creating a tunnel. I just had to see it for myself. In fact, it would be great to recreate that “Memoirs of a Geisha” daytime scene of a kimono-clad young girl running across the vividly colored picturesque tunnel. That would be one for the books.
Upon reaching the Fushima Inari-taisha, doing the same scene was next to impossible. I wasn’t the only one dreaming to do the same scene. Hundreds and perhaps thousands of other tourists want the same thing. Even a solo shot in a vacant torii tunnel posed as a problem.
How did the more than ten thousand toriis rise?
Fushimi Inari-taisha, a Shinto shrine, was established in 711AD and is the head shrine of Inari. It is the dedicated to the Inari, the Shinto god of rice, fertility, agriculture and industry.
There are several stories of the shrine’s origin—an auspicious event involving a swan, of priests’ constant holding of festivals where the deity Inari Okami was enshrined in a plateau during the Wado era, and an empress order to enshrine three deities in three mountains on the first Day of the Horse of the second month of 711, and each of the story ends with a bountiful rice harvest.
Since early times, citizens and businessmen have visited the shrine to pray for bountiful harvests, prosperity in business, and personal wishes to be granted.
With the requests for divine intervention come torii gates that symbolizes the passing of wishes and prayers from people to diety. The thousands of torii gateways we see in Fushima Inari are all donations, and inscribed on each gate is the name of the donor.
These toriis form a trail that leads into the wooded forest and to the peak of the 233-meter high Mt. Inari and down. It’s a two to three hour hike up the sacred mountain and back.
It took me more than three hours though. Why? Because at every photograph-worthy zone I stop and shoot, and the best of which were snapped at the high points.
So you want your solo shots, your very own “memoirs” video running through the torii gates? Go past the Yotsutsuji intersection, a viewing area about 30 to 45 minutes from the starting point, the Senbon Torii. As you go higher, the density of visitors decreases, and at some point you will have your alone-in-the-shrine moment.
I had mine, in fact, I took home several of those dream shots. Not only that, I made it to the peak of the shrine, the Ninomine.
It was dusk when I made it back to the midway viewing point, where I caught Kyoto turning on its city lights. Suffice to say, the dark of night enveloped the city when I made it back to the main temple grounds.
Fushima Inari is truly one of the most iconic sights in Kyoto.
And about the foxes that adorn the shrine. Inari Okami is not a fox. Foxes are said to be messenger of the diety. These messengers can’t be seen this is why they are called byakkosan or “white foxes.”
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