Sunday, May 22, 2016

fushimi inari shrine

While in Japan, we took a day trip from Osaka to Kyoto to visit the Fushimi Inari Shrine. Truthfully, I didn't know very much about the shrine before our visit. I had seen a picture of it, however, and knew I wanted to stroll through those tall, red, ornate gates myself. 

Kyoto is only an hour away from Osaka by train, so we thought: why the heck not?! 

On Saturday morning, our last full day in Japan, we left Osaka mid morning. On a piece of paper we scrolled the names of the three stations we would need to transfer at along with train numbers. Just a little over an hour after we left Osaka, we made it to the Fushimi Inari Station.  

We spent half a day at the shrine and the nearby small town. 

We noticed right away that the shrine was nothing like the Buddhist ones we have become so familiar with in Taiwan. That's because, as it turns out, this is a Shinto shrine. Rather than dragons, dogs and foxes were everywhere! I thought it was so cool and different! 

The Fushimi Inari Shrine is Japan's most popular Inari shrine. The Inari shrines are dedicated to Inari, the god of rice. One easy feature to recognize an Inari shrine by is the presence of foxes. The foxes are said to be the messengers of Inari. You will notice in the pictures that the foxes have items in their mouths like rice or scrolls. 

The shrine is built on Mount Inari, a sacred place. The main shrine is at the bottom of the hill and then a trail leads up to the top of the mountain. The trail is lined with thousands of torii, the red, tall, ornate gates I was so excited to see in person. Businesses can purchase small or large torii for a pretty penny. The basic idea is that Inari is the god of plenty-- plenty or rice or money or success. I wish we could read Japanese so we could understand what was written on the torii we walked through. 

Because we went on a Saturday, the shrine and mountain were pretty busy. Still, we didn't mind. There was something so peaceful about this place, and I know we will be back. Plus, we had a lot of fun wandering the day market, eating at a traditional ramen house and popping by a Japanese cat cafe, all of which I will tell you about soon! 

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