Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto

Known for its mountainside paths through 5,000 vermilion-lacquered torii gates, Fushimi Inari Taisha is a Kyoto icon. The shrine was founded in the 8th century and recently celebrated its 1,300th anniversary. Dedicated to Inari, the god of rice and fertility, the shrine’s deities also insure business prosperity and safety. Each of Fushimi Inari’s wooden torii gates was donated by a Japanese business enterprise seeking good fortune. Throughout the year, Fushimi Inari has an impressive calendar of Shinto ceremonies, purification rites, and traditional festivals to give thanks and seek harmony with nature and the deities. The transplanting of rice seedlings and the rice harvest are important seasonal rituals at the shrine. Millions of worshipers visit Fushimi Inari Taisha during the Japanese New Year.

Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto Photo Gallery

The vibrant torii gates form tunnel-like passages of glowing redorange luminescence up the slopes of Mount Inari, winding through the thick forest past smaller shrines and kitsune fox statues of bronze and stone. The wily fox, a benevolent but potentially tricky manifestation, serves as messenger to Inari, and carries a granary key, a sheaf of rice grain, or a wish-fulfilling jewel in its mouth. Fushimi Inari Taisha is at its most strikingly spiritual and atmospheric in the quiet of dawn or at dusk, but be wary of any temptingly beautiful stranger that materializes in the subdued light of the sacred mountain.

A torii gate path follows the natural contours of Mount Inari.

Each torii in this vermilion tunnel is inscribed for its Japanese business donor.

Red chochin lanterns enrich the shrine’s radiance during the Motomiya Festival.

Inari fox statues at the mountainside Tamayama Inarisha Shrine.

A fox festival mask during the Motomiya Matsuri.

The Roumon Tower Gate.

Chochin paper lanterns decorate the Roumon Tower Gate.

At dusk, beware the powers of enchantment.

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