One can hardly mention Kyoto without thinking of the iconic vermillion red gates or “torii” that make their appearance into many a travel-blogger’s portfolio. Fushimi Inaria Taisha can be accessed by taking a 5 minute train from Kyoto Station. The major Shinto shrine then lies almost directly in front of Fushimi station. Just follow the massing tourists and you can’t go wrong.
(Side note: I popped into the adjoining convenience store or “konbini” to grab a new SD card as I had filled mine to the brim. Konbini are amazing places for the stores back home certainly don’t provide me with emergency camera storage.)
Locals, however, make the pilgrimage up the sacred Mount Inari and through the gated path to pay tribute and pray for good fortune. The shrine is dedicated to the Shinto god of rice, Inari. Foxes are believed to be his messengers, and so fox statues litter the grounds.
Everyone turned to look as this adorable couple strode past with their pack of beautiful black dogs. I ask you, who walks their dogs at a shrine? In any case, they looked to be golden retrievers, but the very name of such invalidates a purebred black pup. I looked it up; my best guess are that these are flat-coated retrievers.
The shrine attendants sold a wide variety of blessed charms and talismans or “omamori” within. There were so many different kinds; true love, luck with exams, good health, long life, good fortune and fertility among them. I myself picked up a ‘good health’ omamori. After all, what good is a long life if you’re not in the best condition to live it?
I neglected to get a good photo of it, but just up this path there are a handful of vendors. One of which was selling thrifted yukata and kimono robes. We were lucky enough to snag a kimono robe for me to live through vicariously.
Walking further along the path, we came across these strips of divine lottery or “omikuji”. Shrine visitors make a small donation and draw a fortune strip at random. These tend not to be very specific. Expect a fortune of great luck, slightly good luck, slightly bad luck, or terrible luck.
These torii were donated by various companies in the hope of bringing good fortune to their businesses. The kanji along the pillars indicate which Chinese and Japanese firms these were.
If you follow the gates straight up the mountain, it will lead into the woody forests of the sacred mountain. There are view decks up there that overlook a good deal of Kyoto. Most tourists never make it that far, however. I certainly didn’t.
But no matter how far up you make it, you still won’t end up disappointed. Japanese culture and tradition is an absolute dream, and this place truly bespoke it (even without a long hike).
Hermes scarf | COPPER top | Zara trousers | Stradivarius heels | From Spain shoulder bag