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Torii Gates: Magnificent Tunnel at Fushimi Inari Shrine

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We woke up early today because we wanted to join a day tour by JTB. After an hour of searching, walking up and down on the same road we finally found the meeting point but unfortunately the tour was fully booked since the day before (lesson learned). I was upset and hungry and it wasn’t even 8 in the morning yet. I guess Yin could see my disappointment, she self-proclaimed to be our tour guide, with a lonely planet book and a bag filled with snacks to keep us entertained energized, she promised us to give us a better tour to the one we missed. Okay Yin, bring it on..

 

Her first choice is Fushimi Inari Shrine, 5 minutes train ride from Kyoto station, located on the opposite of Inari station. It was a clear autumn morning, the combination of bright blue sky, white clouds and the huge torii gate in front the temple entrance looked like a painting. There were a plenty of people when we walked through the main entrance but it wasn’t crowded.

Fushimi is a shrine dedicated to the God of rice, who gives wealth and success to the people devoted to him (or her? I am not sure). Fox as the messenger can be found almost everywhere in the shrine. This famous temple is the head of Inari temples all over Japan and it brings millions of visitor throughout the year.

Fushimi Inari is known for the thousand torii gates. These gates mostly made of wood and painted in orange color, although we did see other types, were a form of donation from someone, families or companies. Their names were engraved on it and the girls read it occasionally to me if they found something interesting to share. It costs up to more than a million Yen for a torii gate but you could also get the miniature one for 800 Yen. While walking through the endless tunnel of this magnificent orange structure I had the feeling that I have been here before. De javu? Hahahaha.. apparently not. The memory came from one of my favorite movie, when the young girl runs trough it. All this time I thought it was a made up place, so ignorant of me..

At the temple, there is a poem called “Loss” carved into the stone. It has three words, but the poet has scratched them out. You cannot read Loss, only feel it.” – Memories of Geisha.

Memories of Geisha

At the end of the tunnel there is a sub shrine where you could write your wishes on a fox shaped prayer board. Yin wrote hers in Chinese so I didn’t know what she wished for my guess is to travel more with awesome friends like us? (waiting for her comment on this). We also bought safe delivery charm for Fia from here as a souvenir, hopes she likes it.

We walked through an uphill path and I couldn’t help to imagine it would be an awesome place to take pre-wed pictures. Along the path we saw a few small shrines and a teahouse where we rested. I has been a tiring walk and then realized that we were actually walking on hiking path of Mount Inari. I begged to girls to go back, my love for hiking begins and ends with a book by Cheryl Strayed’s Wild.

I really liked this shrine, so much so I bought my fridge-magnet-souvenir-for-each-place-I-have-traveled-to from here. This time I got (what else?) a torii gate. Speaking of shopping, there was a yukata stall near the main shrine and they sell the nicest looking yukatas compared to the ones I have seen in other places of Japan. So if you are planning to get one, go check out this stall.

 

Fushimi Inari shrine is also one of UNESCO heritage places in Japan like Koyasan. Next time I travel I am going to do my research on UNESCO heritage places like this and make sure to put that on my itinerary.

It was still morning time when we took train back to Kyoto station, our next itinerary was Kiyomizudera, so stay back and thank you for keep reading.

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