Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto is considered as the MOST popular destination, not only in Kyoto, but also in entire Japan! Let’s check out what makes this place so popular among tourists.
When you get off the Inari or Fushimi Inari Railway Station, you’ll get through the first torii gate, here your vermilion world already starts! And the next one, Grand Romon Gate is said to have built by a famous warlord, Toyotomi Hideyoshi. As Fushimi Inari has been one of the most important shrines in Japan, a lot of donation has been made since its creation in 711 (1,300 years ago!).
“Fushimi” is a name of the place, and “Inari” is one of the Japanese ancient Shinto religion gods. Ina (or Ine) means “crop,” this is the god to protect harvest, or all over business in modern world. Since foxes catch mice who eat rice, Inari god is often represented as fox, or we believe foxes are messengers of Inari gods.
Here you are! Soon the 1000 vermilion gates start, you will need to be in a long line to get through, as most of the tourists come all the way to take photos here. There actually are almost 1,000 gates and a lot more in the mountains, you will have many chances to take good photos for yourself!
One of the best thing about here is, if you are a little away from the long line of photo takers, you will be able to enjoy the quiet sacred atmosphere of this holy mountain. If you’d like, you can hike hours in the mountain, and there is some tomb of a mysterious ancient god on top. The entire mountain is dedicated to the Japanese gods who have been worshiped more than 1,000 years!
After the walking, treat yourself with matcha ice cream! Fushimi Inari is close to Uji, a city of tea where one of the best matcha in Japan is produced. From my own experiences, the ice cream price gets lower as you go down lower 🙂
Since this place has been visited long time by shrine goers, good shopping streets (Sando) have been established and you will be able to find a lot of local products from the Fushimi area. In Japan, fried tofu curd is called “Kitsune (fox)” since we believed that foxes liked this one. Inari-zushi, a rice ball covered by the curd is something you should try.
Or grilled sparrow (!!) is something you can find only here. Sparrows eat crops, so the god thought it should be eliminated (Sparrows in the mountains are hunt for cooking purposes, not the sparrow in town).
Not only vermilion gates, you can see and learn the Japanese ancient belief, tradition, culture, customs, that makes this place so popular and famous. If you visit here, climb, take photos, eat, and say hello to the foxes to thank them, the gods are bringing good life to us!
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