Monday, December 28, 2009

Fushimi Inari- Day

Every time I am in Kyoto, I try and visit the Fushimi Inari Shrine. It is the head Shinto Shrine dedicated to the harvest god Inari. As Japan has become more industrial and less agrarian, Inari has drifted towards a deity of luck in business. Shrines dedicated to Inari are ubiquitous, and there are thens of thousands of small and mid sized ones dotted about the country.

At Fushimi Inari, over three kilometers of trails snake around the mountain, every step of the way covered in bright red torii gateways. The torii are bought by people and businesses and donated to the shrine for good luck with a business deal or venture.

I love the area because it is so unique, and so beautiful. As well, in a country where it can be hard to get away from the crowds, solitude is not hard to find here. I also enjoy it because I've always liked foxes, and the fox is the messenger of Inari, so the shrine has a great many fox statues.

Of course, in Japanese legend the foxes, or kitsune, are also a trickster characters, capable of changing shape and causing mischief or harm to hapless humans who encounter them. Thankfully, I haven't run into any kitsune yet, but I feel that when walking the lonely pathways of Fushimi Inari after dark it would be prudent to be careful!

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