The Fushimi Inari Shrine is considered one of the most significant Shinto shrines in Japan and is a popular destination for tourists and locals alike. It is famous for its thousands of vermilion-colored torii gates, which form pathways and tunnels throughout the Mount Inari grounds. These gates, set against the lush greenery of the surrounding forest, create a stunning and unforgettable sight.
Dedicated to Inari, the Shinto goddess of rice, the Fushimi Inari Shrine is of utmost importance among thousands of Inari shrines. The shrine is adorned with numerous statues of foxes, believed to be divine messengers of Inari, especially the white foxes which are her chosen messengers. With its ancient origins predating Kyoto’s establishment as the capital of Japan in 794, the Fushimi Inari Shrine has deep historical roots.
The oldest religion in Japan, Shinto, translates to “way of the kami.” According to Shinto belief, the world is inhabited by millions of kami, spirits that reside in anything that possesses extraordinary qualities, including individuals, places, and objects. Kami can dwell in various forms, such as rivers, rocks, trees, and animals. All of nature is revered with great admiration and reverence in Shinto. In the sixth century, Shinto merged with Buddhist philosophy, giving rise to a vast pantheon of gods, including a blend of nature spirits, guardian deities, and incarnations of Buddha.
The torii is the gateway to a Shinto shrine, and some shrines may have multiple torii leading up to them. The horizontal bars at the top of the torii extend towards the sky, symbolizing a connection to heaven.