A short train journey from central Kyoto, the Fushimi Inari Shrine is one of Japan’s best known and most venerated shrines. With its thousands of vermillion coloured torii gates, its impact is both immediate and lasting – particularly for those who allow themselves to be drawn through the gates to explore further.
Torii gates mark the entrance to Japanese shrines and there are many impressive torii gates throughout Japan. However, nowhere else does one find so many torii in one place. Each of the Fushimi Inari gates has been donated by a company or an individual seeking good fortune from Inari – the god of rice.
With trails leading up and around a low mountain offering wonderful views over Kyoto, a visit to Fushimi Inari can involve a lot of walking. I found the various trails to be irresistible, which led to my becoming lost at one point and ending up outside the shrine area. However, after teaming-up with some Mexican travelers who were similarly lost, together we found our way back. In fact, getting lost must be easy as several Japanese people asked us for directions. One presumes they were visiting from elsewhere in Japan.
Readers who remember the movie Memoirs of a Geisha may also remember the scene of the young Sayuri running between Fushimi Inari’s torii gates dreaming of her future life as a geisha. Perhaps the scene had a healthy dose of poetic licence, but it nevertheless shows the ability of the location to inspire.
(Please click on any of the following images for an enlarged view.)