Fushimi Inari Taisha in Kyoto and Local Inari Shrines
Fushimi Inari Taisha in Kyoto
The famous Fushimi Inari Taisha shrine in Kyoto really is a fantastic place to visit. There are the colorful main buildings to see and even more impressive is the walk through the shrine's land. In the case of Fushimi Inari, this means taking a long walk up and around the hill that belongs to the shrine. Part of the way leads through rows of orange Torii gates, so many of them that they seem to form tunnels. It is a beautiful place shaded by trees, with the donated Torii gates in all sizes and fox statues waiting to be discovered.
Make sure that you have enough time for this shrine and wear comfortable walking shoes. Take two or three hours for this short trip from Kyoto's city center. The shrine is located very close to the JR Inari station and the Keihan Fushimi Inari station.
The Fox Messenger Guards the Shrine
The fox is the messenger of Inari, the god of rice. Fox in Japanese is kitsune, but sometimes it is called inari as well. There are many small local Inari Shrines and the Fushimi Inari Taisha is the main shrine for all of them. Some of these local shrines are very small, sometimes hidden between buildings. Look for two foxes standing guard to find a local Inari shrines.
Local Inari Shrines - Hikan Inari Shrine in Asakusa
In Asakusa there is Hikan Inari Shrine, behind Asakusa Shrine next to the Main Hall of Senso-ji Temple. A sign tells the story behind this small local treasure. In 1854 the wife of Shinmon Tatsugoro was seriously ill, but she fully recovered after he prayed at Fushimi Inari Shrine. So he built the Hikan Inari Shrine that still remains. The pictures show the foxes guarding the tiny old wooden building.
Read about the god of rice Inari and the fox more in depth here