At this point, I can confidently say that I been to some of Japan’s most celebrated temple and shrines. It might get less exciting sometimes, the idea of knowing what to expect, but once there I can’t help but shutter away. Knowing that Kyoto and the region of Kansai is home to thousands of treasured shrines and temples, I am pretty sure that I will be spending most of my time visiting some of them, so I was preparing myself for another temple/shrine hopping experience. But somehow I regain a new appreciation for torii gates and the color orange after visiting Fushimi Inari Taisha, head shrine of Shinto god- Inari Okami.
What makes Fushimi Inari Shrine special is pretty straightforward- it has ten thousand donated torii gates (Senbon Torii) leading to the wooded forest of the sacred Mount Inari. The gates have inscribed Japanese characters which I later found out as the names of the donors and the date of which the torii was donated. Inari is the patron of business, so most of the donations came from companies and merchants. The temple shrines are guided by statue of Foxes which are believed to be “messengers” of Inari Okami.
The specific portion which I find really amazing is the start of the trail where there are two parallel rows of gates, as if poetically calling you to make a wise decision to either take the left or the right path. Just imagine the feeling of walking on the trail where you are sheltered by torii of varying sizes on the late afternoon just when the sun is about to disappear and only a few light bulbs and color orange guiding your way. Definitely, worth taking that leave from work.
Reaching the shrine is quite easy. Take the JR Nara line at Kyoto Station, it’s a few steps just outside the JR Inari station. You won’t miss the orange torii gate across the street.