Our final stop on day two in Kyoto was Fushimi Inari Taisha. Fushimi Inari Taisha is a Shinto shrine just south of Kyoto dedicated to Inari. Inari is often described as either an old man or a fox, though the fox is typically understood to ba Inari’s worldly messenger. Hundreds, perhaps even thousands of statues of foxes can be found in and around the shrine. One of the two fox statues in front of the gate main carries the symbolic key to the rice granary, while the other carries a jewel. The rice granary is symbolic of fertility, money, and success in business. The most notable thing about Fushimi Inari is the thousands of orange torii gates, many donated by businesses around Japan. If you look at the torii from their back sides you can see the names of the businesses that donated them.
The area near Fushimi Inari is famous for selling inari sushi and also grilled sparrows. We had a quick snack of inari sushi, but skipped the sparrows (and actually, we didn’t see anyone selling them, I’ve just heard that it’s a famous snack near there).
We arrived around five, but if you’re planning a visit, I recommend getting here a little earlier in the day. There is a lot to see at the main shrine at the foot of the hill, but the best part is walking up some of the many paths on the property to the sub-shrines and finding the gardens filled with fox statues and small torii. Unfortunately, although I generally don’t believe in ghosts, being at Fushimi Inari after dark really gives me the creeps, so I didn’t make it very far on this trip. There’s just something about dark creepy shrines full of fox statues in the middle of a creaky bamboo forest full of crows that really gets to me. Having been told that it’s full of ghosts didn’t help much either. Of course, if you have nerves of steel, Fushimi Inari is open 24 hours a day, and there is no admission charge. To get there, take the Keihan train line to Fushimi Inari or JR to Inari station.
The fountain visible in the mid to upper-right of this photo has some sort of special property; I can’t recall if it is health, wealth, wish-granting, or something else. It was super-dark and creepy so I didn’t want to poke around to find out. I have drunk from it in the past though.