Walking through vermillion: Fushimi Inari Taisha

If Kiyomizu-dera was the place R wanted to see the most in Kyoto, mine was Fushimi Inari Taisha. Admittedly, we both know of the place because of its brief appearance in Memoirs of a Geisha. The image of young Sayuri running through seemingly endless rows of bright orange torii had been pretty much ingrained in my mind. I was definitely not going to let the chance to see them myself pass me by.

10_fushimi_01View of the shrine entrance from the JR Inari Station.

10_fushimi_02I don’t know what this is… probably information about the shrine?

R and I were already pretty excited just by these big orange torii near the entrance. We were like, THERE IT IS! THE ORANGE TORII! JUST ONE, BUT IT’S ORANGE AND A TORII!

10_fushimi_06The purification fountain near the entrance. Again, here’s a guide on how to properly ‘cleanse’ yourself before entering the shrine grounds. This, however, is not mandatory. It’s stated in the guide, but you are not supposed to swallow the water. I actually can’t remember if I did or not, meep. But I think it’s clean. I think.

10_fushimi_07This fox is just one of the many foxes you’ll see all over the shrine. The fox, or kitsune in Japanese, are said to be Inari’s messengers. Inari is one of the main Shinto gods. Interestingly, Inari has been portrayed both as a man and woman. This post explains about Inari and his/her foxes extensively. There are many shrines all over Japan dedicated for Inari-worship, but the Fushimi Inari Taisha is the central and oldest Inari-shrine in the country.

In the same guide for purification above, it’s stated that you’re supposed to ring these bells before praying to the god. R and I were too shy to do this ourselves, so we contented ourselves with watching how it was done. It was pretty cute watching mothers teach their little children how to ring the bells.

10_fushimi_11An outdoor stage of a Noh play. We didn’t linger because we couldn’t understand what they were saying. D:

10_fushimi_12Another kitsune further inside the shrine grounds. In case you haven’t noticed (yet), most of Fushimi Inari is, yes, colored in orange.

And here they are in all their shining (yes, they were actually a bit glossy) glory… the torii of Fushimi Inari Taisha.

10_fushimi_27After walking onnnnnn and on and on through endless tunnels of these torii – actually, they lead to other parts of the shrine and then there’d be another set of tunnels to go through – it led me and R uphill. I was a bit surprised to see there seemed to be a stream of sorts in the area.10_fushimi_28A small pond where there were a number of ducks swimming around. This is also a resting point after all that walking we did.

After leaving the pond area and following the rest of the torii, R and I found out that we somehow got lost. Haha! We’ve always contemplated on going back as we walked but we figured we’d get to the exit somehow. For some reason, we found ourselves alone and walking in what looked like a neighborhood – there were houses – along a street that had a lot of the kitsune and jizou. It felt a bit like we were in a cemetery…maybe we were? To this day, I have no idea if we actually ended up outside the shrine grounds or if that was still part of it. There were vending machines along the way, and eventually we came upon a number of people who looked as lost as we were. We just all kept walking until we got back to the familiar part of the shrine.

10_fushimi_29Fox-faced ema. R and I couldn’t figure out where to buy them. I also don’t know what they’re for, because wishes are commonly written on ema. But we would’ve wanted to try our hand at drawing faces on these, haha.

10_fushimi_30The torii-shaped ema were the ones R and I ended up buying and writing our wishes on.

10_fushimi_31Hanging our ema after writing on them…

10_fushimi_32And there they are 😀

Afterwards, R and I saw this man selling ‘parfait’ taiyaki (fish-shaped cake) and decided to buy. 😀

10_fushimi_33It costed around 400 yen or higher, depending on the ingredients you wanted to put in your taiyaki.

10_fushimi_34And then we stayed for a little while in this area. There were several places where people were just sitting around, so R and I did the same. It was very nice and relaxing.

10_fushimi_34We thought the taiyaki was only going to be our snack, but it made us so full that we decided it was our lunch. Burp!

To get to Fushimi Inari, ride the JR Nara line and get off at the Inari station. You can also ride the Keihan Main Line and get off at the Fushimiinari station. The train rides cost around 140-150 yen.

Visit my Japan page for more of my misadventures (and information, of course)!


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