TRAVEL: Fushimi Inari, Kyoto

4 Mar

What is it about those Japanese red gates that make them so mesmerizing? Perhaps it’s the stark, bright red of their arches against the crumbling temples they generally guard, framed by the green foliage that has grown there for thousands of years. Or maybe it’s just the scale of them, the ability to walk through and enter an ancient place of worship and reverence.

The iconic torii pathway in Fushimi Inari.

The iconic torii pathway at Fushimi Inari.

Torii gates are found at many Shinto shrines across Japan and some Buddhist temples, the main entrance torii signifying the transition from the secular world to the sacred. Perhaps the two most famous places to see torii are at Miyajima island, just outside of Hiroshima, and Fushimi Inari, near Kyoto.

The entrance to Fushimi Inari.

The entrance to Fushimi Inari.

Today, with a sea-blue sky and temperatures in the high teens, I decided to skip Japanese class (oops!) and catch a train to Kyoto to visit Fushimi Inari. This famous shrine sprawls up a mountain side with thousands of red torii, many mischievous-looking stone foxes and other small shrines. Inari is the goddess of rice and business, and foxes were thought to be messengers. Individuals and companies have purchased the torii that line the many paths in hopes of success in business.

Sly Mr. Fox.

Sly Mr. Fox.

It takes about an hour to reach the top of Mount Inari. It’s slightly challenging, with many steps, but very fun to explore the hidden corners of shrines with jumbles of stone and gates. The back forest of the mountain is also surprisingly lush, with ferns and moss lining the trails.

One of the many mysterious back corners of Fushimi Inari.

One of the many mysterious back corners of Fushimi Inari.

And what’s better than sitting outside in March drinking beer and eating chocolate on top of a mountain overlooking Kyoto? Perhaps running along the torii paths like a maniac recreating this scene from Memoirs of a Geisha.

Don't I look like a geisha?

Don’t I look like a geisha?

Fushimi Inari is very easy to get to. From Kyoto station, take a local train on the JR Nara line two stops to Inari station. The shrine’s entrance is just across the street from the station gates.

2 Responses to “TRAVEL: Fushimi Inari, Kyoto”

  1. Grandma March 4, 2013 at 12:50 pm #

    Lindsay. you do such a great job with your comments.I love your pictures too.

    • Lindsay Lafreniere March 4, 2013 at 8:03 pm #

      Thanks so much!

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