- The trip to Fushimi Inari-taisha starts at the moment when you get off the train.
- To begin with, let’s relax and pray.
- If you want to know what silence in Japan feels like, this is it.
- “Omokaru-ishi”a stone that changes its weight depends on the person!?
- The Foxes can only be seen at Fushimi Inari-taisha!
The trip to Fushimi Inari-taisha starts at the moment when you get off the train.
As a former Miko (shrine maiden), I’d like to introduce the most popular destination* among foreign visitors in Japan.（*Reference: Trip Advisor U.S.A. 2015）
It’s about 5 minutes from Kyoto station using the JR Nara train.
When you get off the train at the JR Inari station, you’ll see a large, vermilion colored Torii gate.
I always get a little tense when I see it.
The vermilion color, commonly used for Japanese Shrines, is said to have a kind of magical power and enhances the power of a God. The pigment is made from cinnabar a form of mercury sulfide and has been used as a preservative for wood since ancient times.
To begin with, let’s relax and pray.
The idea I want you to understand when you pray.
☆Rice plants are a dedication at the shrine.
The reason why rice plants are dedicated is that, rice is the main source of food for Japanese people. Fuhimi Inari-taisha is the shrine where people pray for a large and successful harvest every year, thus rice plants are dedicated as offerings.
If you want to know what silence in Japan feels like, this is it.
It is said that there are about ten thousand Torii gates on the grounds of the shrine. This is the most of any shrine in Japan. When you pass through the gates, a chilly, but refreshing wind blows, mystically cooling you down. You’ll feel a sense of holiness.
Who do you think built the myriad of Torii gates? You’ll know the answer when you return to the entrance.
The name of the company, or person who donated the gate, and the date of donation are engraved on the backside of each Torii gate. They offer a Torii gate, because their wish came true, or “passed”just like they passed underneath the Torii gates.
The custom of offering a Torii gate as a token of gratitude has been in place since the Edo period and the number gates has risen to about ten thousand.
“Omokaru-ishi”a stone that changes its weight depends on the person!?
After passing Senbon Torii gate, there are stones called “Omokaru-ishi”.
Let’s lift the head of stone lantern and make a wish.
If you can easily lift it up, it means that your wish can come true. If it feels heavy, it means your wish will be difficult to come by. Please try it when you come here! I’ve tried it several times, but still can’t lift it.
The Foxes can only be seen at Fushimi Inari-taisha!
This is not just an ordinary fox. The enshrined God of Fushimi Inari-taisha is called Inari Okami, and the servants of Inari Okami, these foxes, are called “Byakko”.
These foxes are said to be white or transparent and are invisible.
The stone fox statues around the shrine hold either an ear of rice, a scroll, a key, or a ball. There’s also rare type of fox that holds nothing, so please try to find one!
After leaving the shrine, let’s eat something.
There’s a shopping street called “Fushimi Inari-sando Shotengai” near the Fushimi Inari-taisha.
My recommendation is of course, Inari-zushi.
Inari-zushi is a type of sushi that is wrapped with deep-fried tofu that is said to be the favorite food of Byakko.
You can also find souvenir shops that’ll have Senbei (rice crackers) and sentimental toys. It very fun to walk around and browse, as well as eating here too.
I know of some other special shops and other places in and around Fushimi too, so I’ll introduce some other good places in Kyoto where you can enjoy good food in my next article.
68 Fukakusa Yabunouchichō, Fushimi-ku, Kyoto city, Kyoto 612-0882