If there is one shrine you shouldn't miss in Japan, it would be the Fushimi Inari Shrine. The shrine is dedicated to Inari kami, the god of rice. He is believed to bless his devotees with an abundant amount of wealth, success and good luck to those devoted to him. And His messenger, the Fushimi Inari fox, decorated every corner of Fushimi Inari Shrine.
Fushimi Inari Shrine
This shrine the head of Inari shrines all over Japan, and it brings millions of visitors throughout the year. Located on the opposite of Inari station, it's a 5-minute train ride from Kyoto station.
The first time I visited Fushimi Inari, it was a clear autumn morning. The combination of bright blue sky, white clouds and the huge torii gate in front of the shrine entrance looked like a painting. There were a plenty of people when we walked through the main entrance, but it wasn't crowded.
Fushimi Inari is famous for the thousand torii gates.
These gates, mostly made of wood and painted orange were a form of a donation from individuals, families or companies. Their names were engraved on them, and the girls read them to me occasionally if they found something interesting enough to share. It costs up to or more than a million Yen to donate a torii gate, but you can also get a miniature one for 800 Yen.
While walking through the endless tunnel of these magnificent orange structures, I had the feeling that I have been here before. Deja vu? Apparently not. The memory came from one of my favorite movies when a young girl runs through the place in the movie Memories of Geisha.
"At the temple, there is a poem called "Loss" carved into the stone. It has three words, but the poet has scratched them out. You cannot read Loss, only feel it." - Memories of Geisha.
Wish-granting fox prayer board
At the end of one of the tunnels, there is a sub-shrine where you can write your wishes on a fox-shaped prayer or locally known as ema, board. It's pretty similar to drawing eyes on the Japanese Daruma Doll believed to grant your wishes.
In the shrine, my friend wrote hers in Chinese. For the Inari to grant her both love and good luck, she explained later. I didn't write any wishes this time, instead, I bought a safe delivery good charm for my best friend who was very much pregnant at that time.
I couldn’t help but imagine that the place would be an awesome place to take pre-wedding pictures. Along the path, there were a few other small shrines and a teahouse where we rested for a while.
Fushimi Inari shrine awe-ed me within the few hours we were there. So much so that I bought my fridge-magnet-for-each-city-I-have-been-to travel souvenir from here. It was a bright red torii gate. Speaking of travel souvenirs, there was a yukata stall near the main shrine, and they sold some of the nicest looking yukatas compared to those I had seen elsewhere in Japan. If you are planning to get a yukata in Japan, it's yet another reason to visit the shrine.
Similar like Koyasan, Fushimi Inari Shrine is also one of Japan’s UNESCO heritage sites. Next time I travel, I am going to do my research on other UNESCO heritage places and make sure to put them on my itinerary.