Fushimi Inari Taisha (伏見稲荷大社) is a Shinto shrine in southern Kyoto, with thousands of torii—a traditional Japanese gateway that symbolises the transition between the profane and the sacred worlds—lined up along the trail at Mount Inari, which is 232 metres high. The numerous toriis were donated by people who were successful in their businesses and who would like to express their gratitude to the Shinto kami, Inari, who is the Spirit of Rice. (Each torii bears the name of the donor.)
Kitsune, or foxes, are messengers to Oinari (O/お is a respectful prefix in Japanese), and this dreamy, mystic element is what attracts me to the shrine. In Japanese folklore, kitsune are often portrayed as wise, spiritual and powerful creatures with magical abilities such as taking on the human form and speaking the human language, and legend has it that they are beautiful spirits that live for centuries. In essence, they are a manifestation of mankind’s dreams of a perfect companion—a faithful guardian, lover and friend.
Perhaps I am more drawn to the dreamy stories (that I conceived) and folklores than I am of the shrine itself, but Fushimi Inari Taisha definitely has a place in my heart.
Fushimi Inari Taisha is situated just outside JR Inari Station and is a short walk from Fushimi Inari Station.
Admission is free and Fushimi Inari Taisha is always open.