The impressive Romon gate.
We hit up another “must see” destination in Kyoto on the same day we visited Arashiyama (which probably explains our derpiness there) – the Fushimi Inari Shrine (伏見稲荷大社, Fushimi Inari Taisha) – a Shinto shrine in southern Kyoto. It’s incredibly famous for it’s thousands upon thousands of orange (the posh call it “vermillion”) torii gates (鳥居) that line the many wriggling paths that lie behind the main shrine buildings and lead up the Inari Mountain (these grounds also belong to the shrine).
Fushimi Inari is noted as the most most important of the many shrines that are dedicated to the Shinto god of rice, Inari. Foxes (kitsune) are said to be the messengers of Inari, so there’s plenty of fox statues to be found around the shrine grounds.
At the head of the shrine as massive torii gate, known as the Romnon gate, stands. Erected in 1589, after being donated by the famous leader Toyotomi Hideyoshi, this impressive gate is hard to miss after hopping off the train at Inari station. Also, the station itself is painted the same startling vermillion colour to match the torii gates.
The Senbon Gates.
It’s very orange/vermillion, here.
Behind the main area lies the beginning of the “Senbon Gates” known as the Thousand Gates where the two parallel rows of densely packed gates lie and signal the beginning of the path to the summit. It takes about 2-3 hours (depending on your own personal speed) to get to the summit – so you can probably guess that we didn’t have the equivalent enthusiasm to trek our way up there.
The torii gates along thee path are all installed on the grounds from donations – the bigger the gates, the more generous the donation. Along the way there are actually small restaurants and stalls and some small shrines that also offer miniature gates for visitors to with smaller budgets to purchase.
Like all Shinto shrines and temples, worshippers and visitors can pick up Ema – small wooden plates on which prayers or wishes can be written on. The ones at the Fushimara Inari shrine are mainly fox-shaped (kitsune) and are hung up all around the main grounds – many have faces drawn on them and are wonderful to behold swinging in the wind.
The Fushimi Inari Shrine is located just outside JR Inari Station, the second station from Kyoto Station along the JR Nara Line (5 minutes, 140 yen one way from Kyoto Station, not served by rapid trains) – this the route we took and by far the easiest and fastest. The shrine can also be reached in a short walk from Fushimi Inari Station along the Keihan Main Line.