Ten Thousands of Red Gates (Torii) are in Fushimi Inari Shrine, Kyoto, Japan

Japan stock photography | Ten Thousands of Red Gates (Torii) are in Fushimi Inari Shrine, Kyoto, Japan

Fushimi Inari Taisha is a shinto jinja (shrine) dedicated to the spirit Inari, located in Fushimi-ku in about 2km south-east of Kyoto station, Japan. Fushimi Inari Taisha is without doubt the largest and most impressive Inari shrine in Japan. Fushimi Inari Taisha is also famous for appearing in the film Memoirs of a Geisha.

Fushimi Inari Shrine is also famous for the countless vermilion torii gates, offerings by worshippers, that cover the hiking trails of Inarisan, the wooded mountain behind the shrine’s main buildings. It takes about two hours to walk along the whole trail. The 4km walk through the torii tunnel to the top of the Inari-san hill can be a strenuous one, especially in the heat of summer. That does not discourage some joggers to use the place as a training ground, at the stupefaction of tourists. Two large ponds and several small waterfalls can be found in the maze of torii, depending on which path you decide to follow. The torii gates are all donations from individuals, families or companies. The Inari spirit is considered to be the protector of grains, especially rice, and has thus historically been associated with wealth. Companies often make offerings to Inari shrines in the form of barrels of rice wine (sake) or torii gates.

Statues of menacing kitsune (foxes), said to have the magic power to take possession of human spirits, alternate with torii gates. The fox is however referred to as the god of harvest (rice and other cereals), and is often seen carrying a key in his mouth, which is for the rice granary. Foxes are said to love rice balls rolled in fried tofu, which are called for that reason “o-inari-san”. They can be purchased in about any sushi shops.

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Ilya Genkin is a Sydney, Australia photographer whose subjects include the Pacific coast, Australian outback and deserts, rainforests, lakes and rivers, urban landscapes, night photography, and more.
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