You will discover a spot that is as fascinating as it is disconcerting in the Fushimi-ku district in Kyoto. Dedicated to Inari, the god of rice, the Fushimi Inari Taicha sanctuary is known for its many bright red toriis (gates), gifts by private donors. The corridor of gates creates a path that leads to the hill where the temple is found. However, don't hesitate to veer off the beaten path to discover the plethora of small sanctuaries. In Fushimi Inari Taisha, as in all the sanctuaries dedicated to Inari, the Koma Inu (a type of guard dog for holy places) have been replaced by foxes ('kitsune' in Japanese). Indeed, the fox is very symbolic in the popular beliefs of Japanese folklore. In addition to being the messengers of the goddess Inari, one of the most popular divinities in the Land of the Rising Sun, the kitsune are considered to be magical spirits. Not only are they believed to be able to transform themselves, create illusions and spit fire, but also skew space and time, drive people crazy, and control their minds. They are often associated with women, due to their similar qualities in terms of metamorphosis and shrewdness. Even though those in charge of the Fushimi Inari Taisha sanctuary don't seem to want to encourage tourism (all of the documentation is in Japanese), it is nevertheless one of the most visited sites in Japan.
Fushimi Inari Taisha is a very particular place scattered with several little sanctuaries.ę Andreas Altenburger / 123RF
In shinto´sme, Inari is the god of rice and trade, and the guardian of homes: she is one of the most important kamis (spirits) in Japan.ę Pongtorn Chuachavalit / 123RF
In Fushimi Inari Taisha, head off the standard trail of the toriis and discover some of the other small sanctuaries concealed in the greenery.ę Tupungato / 123RF
The Kitsune are magical spirits capable of changing their appearance and are considered to be the messengers of the goddess Inari.ę Pongtorn Chuachavalit / 123RF
Emas are wooden plaques on which the Japanese inscribe their wishes and then hang them from the branches of trees.ę Sam D Cruz / 123RF