When searching the internet for images of Kyoto, Japan, the vermillion torii gates at Fushimi Inari Taisha is hands down, one of the most popular images that is returned.
When planning my trip to Kyoto, I knew that without a doubt, a visit to this culturally significant, profoundly intimate space on earth would be on my to do list.
There are numerous Torii gates around Japan. But, Fushimi Inari Taisha is considered the head shrine for all of them.
Traveling to the shrine was easy. After taking the metro to the Fushimi-inari stop, we made our way up the pathway to the shrine and gates. From the official website:
The whole of Inariyama, the mountain where Fushimi Inari Taisha rests, is considered a precinct of the shrine. Smaller shrines (hokora), sites of former shrines where deities remain (shinseki), worshiping stones engraved with deities’ names (otsuka), shrine gateways (torii) and other features can be found throughout this holy area.
Inariyama is a 233m-high holy mountain, one of the southernmost of the 36 Higashiyama mountains. Inari Shintoism began with a form of mountain worship in which Inariyama was designated as a kamnabi, a place in nature where a deity is enshrined.
The area was – honestly – even more incredible than I visually could have imagined.
The presence of the place was soul stirring. Yes, if you go midday, there will be people. But, it’s worthless to get annoyed that other people are seeking the same experience that you are.
We didn’t go up the mountain to any of the additional summits, as we were focused on time and the heat of the weather. But, wow – it truly was the quintessential Shinto experience of nature and spirit.
After walking around a bit, I was in dear need of substance. It was extremely hot and humid. We stopped at Inari Saryo, a well placed rest stop with a decent view of the surrounding area. What’s interesting is that in order to sit inside in the air conditioning, everyone in your party has to order an item. As it was VERY hot and humid outside, it was easy to order two items. Both drinks were cooling and delicious.
Plus, it’s nice to rest inside and relax. I got into a lovely conversation with another woman, funny enough from Los Angeles as well, about her time in Osaka.
Overall, my time at Fushimi Inari Taisha – standing in the presence of a spiritual space that has been functioning since 711AD – was indescribably powerful.
History has a way of outliving us all.
Fushimi Inari Taisha
68 Fukakusa Yabunouchichō
Fushimi Ward, Kyoto, Japan