Sunday, January 3, 2016

2015 Japan Autumn Trip 04: Fushimi Inari Shrine and Senbon-torii (Thousands of Torii)

Lets go to Fushimi Inari Shrine (伏見稲荷神社) today! This was the place where foreigners liked the most in Japan. (Accodring to the survey conducted by tripadvisor in 2015). So lets take a look how special it is. (By the way, I have one of the most unforgettable experiences in my trip right here too!)

Outside Inari Station. Red huge torii could be viewed from the station.

The pathway towards ni-no-torii (二の鳥居) and rou-mon (楼門, Two-storied Gate)

Small shrines at the side of pathway

Rou-mon, built by Toyotomi Hideyoshi in 1589, to pray for his mother's health.

Chozu-ya (手水舎)beside Rou-mon

Behind rou-mon is Gehaiden (外拝殿, Worship Hall). It was first built in 1589, and expanded to current structure at 1840. The lanterns hung below eaves represent 12 zodiac.


Map of Fushimi Inari Shrine, the most famous view here is Senbon-torii (千本鳥居) on the hill behind.

Fox with a spike of rice in its mouth, which represents harvest, is the symbolic statue could be seen everywhere in Fushimi Inari Shrine.

Honden (本殿, Main Hall)

Red-torii-shaped ema (絵馬)

Gonden (権殿) at left, Honden at right

Passing by the buildings shown above, it's the starting point of the famous Senbon-torii!! There was almost no tourists at 7:30 am at Mt. Inari, we only saw a few locals exercising. So morning is the best timing to take good photos!

You must wonder why these torii are red in colour. It was said that torii were merely painted into the same colour as of the shrines long time ago. Then, it just naturally becomes a tradition to paint torii in red. Red has a metaphor of bright and hope in Japanese, which also represents Inari God whose function encompassed the life, earth and agriculture.

After passing through the torii that splitted into left and right lane, you will come to Oku-no-in (奥の院, Inferior yard). There is a very special way of praying. Scroll down and you will know what it is!

Okusha-hohaisho (奥社奉拝所, also known as Oku-no-in)

It is called Omakaru-ishi (おもかる石, Heavy-or-light stone). First, face to the stone and make a wish, then have a guess on the weight of the round stone on the stone lantern. After that, lift up the stone to see whether it is heavier or lighter than what you guess. If it's lighter, your wish will come true!

We continued our walk into the mountain behind Oku-no-in. It's so comfortable to walk and enjoy the cool air of forest and the chirping sound of insects and crows.

After a long walk, we just realized that there is still a long way to the peak.

Mt. Inari is the place where Japanese buries their relatives since Hei'an period.

Kumatakasha (熊鷹社), fox statues are worshiped here.

The path towards Kumatakasha from Senbon-torii
The pond ahead is called Shin-ike (新池).

The path will lead to a place called Yotsu-tsuji (四辻), means crossroads in Japanese. Yotsu-tsuji is a nice location to view southern part of Kyoto. And it is here where I met an ojiisan (elder in Japanese), who suggested me that more astonishing view is right above.

I understood what he said at that time, but I was not so confident in my Japanese, so at first I just smiled at him. However, an idea flashed into my mind. Why not getting a chance to train my Japanese? Maybe I could learn something new. So, I started conversation with him and this is the most memorable experience I mentioned earlier, because we had conversation from the peak back to the shrine, and went for a breakfast after that! Of course the only language we had was Japanese! Unbelievable!

Ojiisan patiently introduced me about the landmark of Kyoto. The pagoda that surrounded by greens is To-ji (東寺) temple. (Right in the photo)

Ojiisan brought us to the peak of Mt. Inari, Ichi-no-mine(一ノ峰, 233 m). A shrine, where Suehiro god (末広大神) is worshiped, is located at the peak.

Ojiisan said he was 75 years old, but looked younger than that.

It was 9:30 am when we went down. The starting point of Senbon-torii was full of tourists at that time. It's so fortunate that we came here early. After that, we went for breakfast tea nearby.

We called ojiisan Ueda-san. He lives near to Kyoto Gosho and comes to Mt. Inari about twice a week. We talked about his job before retirement. He worked in water resource department before. He was in charge of the piping which brought water resource from Biwa lake at Shiga prefecture to Kyoto. Due to the direct usage of natural water, he said water in Kyoto is more delicious than other places, therefore Kyoto is famous with its Tofu and Japanese tea. He joked about the water used in Osaka is not clean as Kyoto, because waste water from Kyoto goes to river which flow to Osaka, then people in Osaka pump the river out as their water resource.

He traveled to a lot of places after retirement. His favourite is taking photos of ancient Japan castles. He also shared about his travel to a famous castle in Germany, which is said as marvelous as Osaka Castle.

I'm the only one who can speak Japanese, so I became translator during entire conversation between us and Ueda-san. Having conversation with local is really an unexpected wonderful experience.

My pomelo tea
Ojiisan wondered whether it's sour or not.

Okaki (おかき, Japanese rice cracker) bought for us by ojiisan

After that, he sent us to our next destination, Kiyomizu-dera (清水寺) temple. He also helped us to plan the best route to walk! 


Kiyomizu-dera Temple, the guardian of Kyoto

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