Fushimi Inari-taisha Shrine is located in Kyoto, Japan and is one of the most iconic sights in Japan. The shrine was founded in 711 AD and is one of Kyoto’s oldest and most significant places.
The complex consists of five main shrines and several sub-shrines scattered on the wooded sloping hillside but the shrine is most famous for the seemingly endless vermilion torii gates on the pathway through the woods.
It is difficult to describe a site like this but the map below provides a pictorial view of the site layout.
Prior to reaching the entry gate of the shrine you will be greeted with a large tori gate that is just a sample of the great number of torii gates that is within the shrine complex.
The entry gate itself is two story and mostly vermilion with a stone fox on each side of the passage door. Just like the entrance torii gate, these stone foxes are just a sample of the stone foxes that are within the shrine complex.
The back side of the entry gate is similar to the front but it has a covered area for people inside the complex.
The first building inside the entry gate is the Worship Hall. This is an active shrine and there were people worshiping at the time we were visiting.
The main shrine was the most impressive building in the complex and it was also the most popular building from the visitors in the shrine.
There are several other buildings and structures within the complex. Some are obviously used for religious purposes and others I am not sure why they are used. An example of these are in the photos below.
I am always amazed by the all of the small details that are part of ancient complexes like the Fushimi Inari-taisha Shrine. A few examples of these at the Fushimi Inari-taisha Shrine are shown in the photos below.
I mentioned earlier that there are many stone foxes in the complex and there are hundreds of them that can be seen primarily in the memorial area. Japanese traditionally see the fox as a sacred figure. The foxes are considered the messengers of Inari (the god of rice). The fox often has a key in its mouth that is the key to the rice granary.
The hills behind Fushimi Inari-taisha Shrine is lined with over 5000 vibrant orange tori gates that wind along the pathway. This exhibition of torii gates is one of the most impressive and memorable sights of my trip to Japan.
It is really hard to describe the feeling that comes from walking through so many large brightly colored gates that are set on the hillside in nature. It is an overwhelming sight that seems misplaced.
My biggest surprise of visiting the shrine were the countless memorials with smaller torii gates stacked at the memorial. The location of these memorials were a place where a feeling of reverence instantly came upon me as I approached them. There is a mood of honor and respect that is different from any other place that I have visited.