Fushimi Inari Taisha Guide
Kyoto’s Fushimi Inari Taisha is well-known for its red Senbon Torii (archway to the shrine). It has many visitors from within and from outside the country, and in recent years, the shrine is very popular among tourists from overseas. However, the Senbon Torii is not the only attraction of Fushimi Inari Taisha. If you get to know about how the shrine answers prayers, how to walk around the precinct, hot spots, etc., you can feel it closer.
What is Fushimi Inari Taisha?
The Inari Jinja Shrine, or affectionately called “Oinari-san,” is the most common kind of shrine in Japan. It is said that there are about 30,000 of them nationwide, and the head shrine is Kyoto’s Fushimi Inari Taisha. The deity of this Fushimi Inari Taisha, Inari Okami-sama was enshrined in the mountain during the Nara period in 711, on the first horse day of February, so the shrine has a history of 1,300 years. The first horse day of February changes from year to year, but this day is a day numerous people come for “Fukumairi (pray for good luck for the year),” and the shrine always has a great turnout.
Why does the shrine have the name “Inari,” by the way? There are various theories, but it is said that according to the Yamashirokoku Fudoki (ancient reports on provincial culture, geography, etc.), the name comes from the words “ine (rice) has grown.” There is also a record that in the olden days, the imperial court prayed for rain, shine, a huge harvest, and national tranquility. Further, it is well-known that Toyotomi Hideyoshi, one of the leaders who unified the country, prayed for a cure for his ill mother. Today, as a guardian deity, many people visit and pray for good business, good industry, peaceful household, safe traffic, and improvement in performing arts.
There are fox statues in the Inari Jinja Shrines, or “Oinari-san,” as they are affectionately called. But the fox is not being worshipped. Rather, foxes are thought to be the messengers of the Inari Okami-sama. However, the foxes are not the kind you see in the hills. Just like the Okami-sama, they cannot be seen by humans.
What is the meaning of Fushimi Inari Taisha?
Fushimi Inari Taisha is well-known to have red Torii in a long line. However, the eye-catching Senbon Torii is not the entrance to the shrine. It is located in the back of the main hall, where people pray. It is said that along with the Senbon Torii, there are approximately 10,000 Torii, large and small, in the precinct of the shrine (the whole Inari-yama Mountain). The reason there are so many is that the word “toru” can mean both “answered (prayers)” and “pass through (a Torii),” and the tradition of offering Torii to a shrine become popular in the Edo period.
Also, the vermillion lacquer is very eye-catching as a whole, and the color is said to have magical powers. Castles of ancient times, and many shrines and temples have used this color in various areas. The Fushimi Inari Taisha uses the color to depict good harvest resulting from the powers of the Inari Okami-sama. Further, the mercury used in the vermillion lacquer served as a preservative for wood since the olden days.
Since the tori are made of wood, they only last about a decade and then gradually decay. But the total number of Torii does not just decrease, since new ones are being offered. Although the number of Torii look the same, there are actually new ones among them.
■if you would like to offer a torii, please contact the shrine office, or the tea houses of Inari-yama Mountain.
Ceremony fees: the smallest is size 5, at 175,000 yen, and the largest size 10 is 1,302,000 yen and up. The fee is different depending on where you make the offering.
(size 1 is 3 centimeters. The size numbers are the diameters of the pillars)
What is the admission fee? Where do I buy tickets?
Some shrines and temples take admission fees, but at Fushimi Inari Taisha, you do not need to pay admission. You can visit anytime. Visit when you want, make an offering of money, and make a wish.
However, you will need to pay during the reception time for amulets, prayers, etc. The amulets are sold between 7 am and 6 pm, and prayers are from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm (reception until 4 pm).
What to do at Fushimi Inari Taisha!
Fushimi Inari Taisha is popular among foreigners, with its photogenic view and located in Kyoto, a world-famous prefecture. But the shrine is not a sightseeing spot. It is a holy shrine. You don’t have to be too serious, but praying is recommended. Don’t forget your manners. The following are some tips on how to pray, and places of interest in the precinct.
1. Pray at the Honden (main hall)
When you walk forward on the approach, you will be going through the Ichino Torii (first Torii), and then the Nino Torii (Second Torii), then immediately, you will see the “Romon.” The Romon was built by Toyotomi Hideyoshi who prayed for a cure for his sick mother. The Main Hall is located further inside. Make your prayer here.
On the left of the Honden is a Juyosho, where you can buy amulets and book for a prayer. You can also draw a written fortune here. The shrine brings good fortune, so there are no “kyo (bad luck).” On the other hand, there is a unique “dai dai kichi (excellent luck).” You may want to try your luck.
Romon was built in 1589
The Honden is Inari-zukuri structure, a gorgeous and graceful style from the Azuchi-Momoyama period
How to worship
1.Before passing the first Torii, lightly bow towards the god (beyond the Torii is believed to be the god’s territory, so you must show respect).
2.On the approach, do not walk in the center (the center is reserved for the gods).
3.At the Romon, wash your hands and mouth at the temizuya (*1) (this is to purify your body and spirit before you pray).
4.Toss your offering into the box, shake the bell, then do a “ni-hai, ni-hakushu, ippai” (*2).
Besides tossing your offering, the other parts of praying may be quite confusing.
It may make things easier if you make your wish while you do the “ni-hai, ni-hakushu, ippai” in 4. You can do this at any shrine.
(*1) It is also called Chozuya. It is a place for visitors to purify themselves with water. Usually, they are located within the precinct of the shrine, in front of the Honden.
(*2) “hai” means bow. “Bow twice, clap twice, bow once” is what it means.
2. Pass through the Senbon Torii
From the back of the Honden, walk further, and you will see the Okumiiya (Rear Shrine). From here is a line of some large Torii, and after passing through them, you will see 2-meter tall Senbon Torii. The length of the row of Torii is about 100 meters. There are two rows. A while ago, it was alright for visitors to walk through either row in any direction, but since more people have been visiting recently, you can only go one-way --walk in the right row, and come out the left. It is believed that if you walk through the Torii while making a wish, the wish comes true. You will see simple red Torii when you walk in, but on your way out, your will see Torii with the names of the people that offered the Torii on the pillars
During the daytime, the Senbon Torii is especially crowded with people taking pictures
3. Try lifting the “Omo-karu ishi (heavy or light stone)” in the Okusha (Rear Shrine)
After passing through the Senbon Torii, there is the Okusha Hohaisho (place of worship). After praying there, try lifting the Omo-karu ishi. On either side of the sight that reads “Omo-karu ishi,” you will find a pair of stone lanterns. First, make a wish here. Then, hold up the top part of one of the lanterns. If you feel it is lighter than what you had expected, it is said that your wish will come true. You don’t have to try both. Just one of them is okay.
Omo-karu ishi. It is said that the day when the wish will come true is far away if you feel heavier than you thought.
4. Experience “Oyama-meguri (visiting sacred places)”
It takes about 15 minutes to walk from the first Torii to the Okusha Hohaisho. You may feel satisfied after passing through the Senbon Torii, but you actually have much more to see, since the Fushimi Inari Taisha’s Inari-yama Mountain as a whole is considered god’s territory. Visiting the shrine giving yourself enough time to experience the “Oyama-meguri” is highly recommended. (the Oyama-meguri starts around the large Torii in front of the Senbon Torii)
The precinct of Fushimi Inari Taisha is mostly the Inari-yama Mountain. It is 223 meters high, and including the west side of the mountain, the precinct is 859,500 square meters, which is about 22 times the size of the Koshien Baseball Stadium. Although the spaces between Torii are wider than that of the Senbon Torii, walking in the mountains while passing through Torii at times is an appealing tour with many sightseeing spots such as superb views, a shrine of matchmaking, and more. From here, going to all the places in the mountain is about a 4 kilometer walk, taking approximately 2 hours. Be sure to wear comfortable shoes such as sneakers and not heels or sandals. Carrying around a suitcase is of course, a bad idea.
As you go along, there will be a tea house at each point, so you can eat and take a rest. Especially during hot weather, you should take enough rest as you go. If you feel too tired, you can go back the route you came from. If you successfully reach the summit (Ichi no mine), don’t forget to pray. The map for Inari-yama Mountain is here for reference. http://inari.jp/en/map
Here are some points during your Oyama-meguri you should know
■A sweeping view of Kyoto-City at Yotsutsuji
You can get a sweeping view of Kyoto-City at Yotsutsuji, which is about 30 minutes’ walk from Okusha Hohaisho. You can’t get a view from the summit of Inari-yama Moutain, so enjoy it at this point.
A view from Yotsutsuji. The picturesque scenery makes you forget how tired you were.
■From the Yotsutsuji to the summit, walk anticlockwise
The road from Yotsutsuji to the summit is looped and you can go from either side, but we recommend going up anticlockwise. The slope from the front that leads to the summit, the tilt is not so tight if you go from Ich-no- mine than Mitsurugisha.
■Make a prayer at “Kuchiire Inari,” the god of matchmaking
Kuchiire Inari Ookami of Araki-jinja Shrine. There are many rows of returned kuchi-ire-ningyo dolls
When you climb down the mountain from the summit, take a different route from the Mitsutsuji (not via Senbon Torii which you used when climbing up), and you will reach Araki-jinja Shrine. You will see many small shrines while walking Inari-yama Mountain, and this shrine is known to enshrine the Kuchiire Inari Ookami. The Kuchiire Inari Ookami is said to play a coordinating role between various people since old times whether it be matchmaking, recruitment, finding employment, etc.
For a good relationship, make a prayer to the matchmaking kuchi-ire-ningyo dolls (a set of three) which are in the form of foxes, messengers of the Kuchiire Inari Ookami. Then take them home and worship them until your prayer is answered. When your prayer is answered, you can leave them at home, but many people return them to the shrine. The many rows of dolls that were returned looks quite cute.
You can buy original items at the shrine such as tenugui (a kind of towel) and post cards, using motifs related to Inari-yama Mountain like the kuchi-ire-ningyo dolls and Torii. Surprisingly, they are all designed by the wife of the chief priest. Each design has a rich ambience, and the items would make great souvenirs.
Towel with a picture of kuchi-ire-ningyo dolls ceremony Fee: 800 yen
Araki-jinja Shrine’s original fan, a new item coming out this summer (fan stand sold separately)
“Araki Jinja Shrine”
●12-3, Fukakusakaidoguchi-cho, Fushimi-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto
*Shinsen Juyosho: 9:00-17:00
●Ceremony fees of items
Kuchi-ire-ningyo dolls (set of three) 5,000 yen
Original fox written oracle 500 yen each
Original towel 800 yen, 1,500 yen (Kyoto Yuzen-zome)
Original post cards 8 kinds, 200 yen each
Original fan 2,800 yen, fan stand 1,000 yen
Araki-jinja original round fan 1,500 yen
Great souvenirs you should buy in the Fushimi Inari Taisha area
Each original fox cookie is carefully baked by hand
On the approach of the Fushimi Inari Taisha, many souvenirs associated with the fox are sold. One of the most popular are the fox face cookies of “Sohonke Hogyokudo,” established 80 years ago. The shop originated the Inari senbei cookies when the first owner made them because he wanted to “make senbei cookies using Kyoto’s high-quality white miso.” Thus, the “kitsune (fox) senbei” was born, and became Fushimi Inari Taisha’s standard souvenir. Even today, each cookie is made by hand using a mold, just like how the first owner made them. Sometimes they bake as much as nearly 1,000 of them a day. They have other items such as bell-shaped cookies and cookies that have fried broad beans inside.
The fox face cookies come in two sizes (prices in the photo are before revision)
●27−7, Fukakusaichinotsubo-cho, Fushimi-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto
●No fixed holiday
●Kitsune senbei: Kokitsune 390 yen for 3; 600 yen for 5; 1,200 yen for 10. Large size: 540 yen for 3; 900 yen for 5; 1,800 yen for 10
They will mix red pepper and various spices to your liking
The Shichimi Togarashi (Shichimi= Seven flavors. Red pepper is mixed with six other flavors) is Kyoto’s classic souvenir. At “Shichimi Togarashi Okumura,” along with the classic formula, they have been selling Shichimi mixed to the customers’ liking ever since their establishment of the shop 80 years ago. Aside from the red pepper, the other six flavors can be anything, and they are different depending on the shop. Compared to people of the Kanto area, Kyotoites tend to like their Shichimi with a strong aroma. In this shop, they blend together Ichimi (cayenne pepper powder), dried citrus peel, perilla, green algae, sesame, linseed, and sansho (Japanese pepper). People of Kyoto tend to like “hot with a lot of sansho,” whereas, in the Kanto area, they tend to like “without the sansho.” It’s fun to make your original mix with some Kyoto flavor.
The middle one is Ichimi. Clockwise from the upper left: dried citrus peel, perilla, sesame, sansho, linseed, and green algae
The Chu-kara (mildly hot, standard flavor) is most recommended. Using it as base, you can mix other flavors to your liking. The image in the photo is blending spices to make it hot.
It is unknown why Shichimi became an established taste in Kyoto, but according to the shop, “It may be because various kinds of food came to Kyoto from different places, and a culture of enjoying them developed, and processing techniques also developed. Kyoto food tend to be less salty, so perhaps people were enthusiastic about creating Shichimi for added aroma.”
“Shichimi Togarashi OKUMURA”
●47 Fukakusainarinakano-cho, Fushimi-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto
●Closed on Sundays (open on some Sundays)
●Shichimi Togarashi, Yuzu Shichimi (instead of Japanese pepper, yuzu is blended) 25 grams, 540 yen each (mixing is free of charge)
When you go to Fushimi Inari Taisha, have a meal here!
Inari-zushi and Uzura no maruyaki (whole broiled quail). Enjoy the specialties of Fushimi Inari.
You will find many places to eat during your Oyama-meguri and in the approach area of Fushimi Inari Taisha. Fushimi Inari Taisha is a place to pray for a huge harvest, so a there was a tradition of broiling and eating the sparrows and quails that eating away at the grain. Today, there are restaurants that still serve whole broiled quails. One of them is “Nezameya,” a restaurant with a presence, located right near the gate. Established in 1540, it has a history of 477 years. There is a historic event about Toyota Hide Yoshi stopping by “Niamey” when he visited Fushimi Inari Taisha to pray for his mother’s health. It was early in the morning when he visited, and the restaurant was the only one open. It is said that Hide Yoshi was very happy to be able to have tea and rest, so he gave the restaurant the name “Niamey.” “Ne” comes from the name of his beloved wife “Nene.” Very nice story, isn’t it? They serve specialty dishes unique to Fushimi Inari Taisha such as broiled quail, Inari-zushi, and Kitsune udon. They also have Unagi (eel) dishes popular among foreign visitors. Have their tasty dishes while feeling the history of Fushimi Inari Taisha.
Quails are broiled in front of the restaurant.
Inari-zushi, or “Oinari-san” is a must-eat
Unagi don (eel bowl) and kimosui (eel liver soup) combo. Eel dishes are most popular among Asian tourists. The Mini Unagi don and Kitsune udon combo is also popular.
Unagi kabayaki is also made in front of the restaurant.
They have Saba-zushi (mackerel sushi), eaten on celebrative occasions in Kyoto.
●82−1, Fukakusainarionmae-cho, Fushimi-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto
●Irregular holidays (always open on Sundays)
●Uzura yaki (broiled quail) 800 yen
Inarizushi (7 pieces) 1,000 yen
Kitsune udon (noodles with seasoned fried-bean-curds) 700 yen
Unagi don (eel bowl) and kimosui (eel liver soup) combo 2,100 yen
Unagi kabayaki Current price
Mini Unagi don and Kitsune udon combo 2,100 yen
Saba-zushi (mackerel sushi) 1,500 yen
*Suzume yaki is limited to wintertime (there is a possibility of not being offered due to lack of ingredients)
“Fushimi Inari Taisha”
●68 Fukakusayabunouchi-cho, Fushimi-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto
Ofuda and Omamori (Amulets) available: 7:00-18:00, Gokito (prayers): 8:30-16:30 (reception until 16:00)
● “Motomiya-sai Festival” every summer
Held on Sunday, July 22nd, 2018
“Yoimiya-sai Festival” on Saturday, July 21st, 2018
How to get to Fushimi Inari Taisha
Right next to Inari Station of the JR Nara Line, or a 5-minute walk from Fushimi-inari Station of the Keihan Main Line
・By city bus
From Kyoto Station, get on the Minami 5 keito (line), get off at Inari Taisha-mae bus stop. The shrine is a 7-minute walk from the bus stop.
Around 20 minutes from the Kyoto Minami IC on the Meishin Expressway, or around 10 minutes from the Hanshin Expressway Kamitoba IC
Summary of Fushimi Inari Taisha
Fushimi Inari Taisha is famous for its long row of red Senbon Torii, but now that you have read our article, don’t you think just looking at the Torii and nothing else is a real waste? After visiting the Honden, go to the prayer areas in the mountain and enjoy your walk in the fresh air. It takes about two hours to walk in the mountain, but on the way, you can enjoy by stopping by tea houses and experience the solemn atmosphere unique to the holy precincts and feel the refreshing air. Be sure to wear clothes and shoes comfortable for a long walk. In the areas that surround the historical shrine are many attractive shopping and eating spots. Enjoy many of their local specialties.
*The above information was last updated June 19, 2018. For further information, please contact the facilities directly.
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