I already told about this sight in the post about Old Kyoto. Now I want to talk about it a little more.
Inari temples are one of the most common in Japan. More than 30,000 sanctuaries, easily recognizable by a series of bright orange gates, can be found in towns and villages, in forested areas and farms. Such popularity is easily explained if one knows that initially Inari was responsible for the yield of grain crops. In fact, the Deity deity does not have an unambiguous interpretation. Sometimes this creature appears in the female image, sometimes in the male image, and is sometimes seen as a collective image of several “kami”. Even the image of the fox kitsune, which is believed to be an indispensable attribute of the Inari temples, is also refuted by Shinto priests: this deity can also be in the form of a dragon, a snake and even a giant spider: it all depends on local beliefs and traditions.
The specialization of this popular Kami also changed and supplemented. If first Inari was associated with the cultivation of rice, over time his functions were increasingly expanded and his patronage extended to warriors and smiths, fishermen, actors and even prostitutes. In Edo it was believed that this deity protects against fires, cures diseases, and women applied to him with the request to give offspring.
For tourists visiting Kyoto, the temple of Fusimi Inari is one of the iconic places, thanks, above all, to the endless tunnels formed by bright orange Shinto gates – torii. The more such gates the visitor passes, the more he will be cleared of domestic filth, on the way of communication with Shintoist spirits. If there is time, desire and strength, you can go the whole five-kilometer route leading to the top of Mount Inari-san: the pilgrimage will take about two hours.
Most scientists believe that the cult of the goddess Inari in Japan began with the establishment of this very temple in 711 (there is, however, the opinion that this deity was revered in Japan since the end of the V century). The temple was named Fushimi Inari Taisha (伏 見 稲 荷 大 社), reflecting its georhaphic location (Fusimi-ku), and the name “Inari” is derived from the word inanari (稲 成 り “growing rice”). In the arid 852, the sanctuary was awarded a visit to the Emperor, who took part in a special ritual, during which prayers for the granting of rain were prayed, since that time the temple acquired a special status and often received the envoys of the imperial court.
On the territory of the temple, we pass through the huge torii and face the main gate of the tower type “romon”, which were erected in 1589 by the military ruler Toyotomi Hideyoshi. This gift was presented to the temple together with a prayer for the recovery of his mother.
Behind the gate is the main Hall – Khonden, the original building appeared here in 816, when the temple was “lowered” from the mountain to its foot. Destroyed by the war Onin (1467-1477), he received a second birth in 1499 and now has the status of an Important Cultural Property
Immediately after the main buildings, the famous tunnels are formed, formed by the Shinto gates close to each other. When you start your journey, you first often have to wade through a crowd of tourists and wait for a long time to make your photos. So, for example, the queue lines up near a place called the “Thousand Gate” (Senbon Torii). From here the paths diverge: you can go on the shortest road and return to the main buildings, and you can continue the journey and get to the very top of the hill. In general, it’s difficult to get lost in the maze of the gate, but for the doubters there are schemes showing your location.
I like this place very much and recommend you to visit it.