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Fushimi Inari Shinto Shrine
2013 photos beneath text
Shintoism, an ancient set of beliefs and practices of the people of Japan, venerates deities called kami, which are mostly related to objects and natural phenomena such as animals, rain, wind, rivers or mountains. The fertility of the land and food production, such as rice, are essential for life, thus are also subject of Shinto worship.
The spirit of Inari is considered as the protector of crops, especially rice, and from the beginning it was associated with productivity and good fortune. Inari gradually became not only a powerful deity to promote agriculture, but also manufacturing, trade and even success in real estate transactions. About 32,000 shrines, one-third of the Shinto shrines in Japan are dedicated to the Inari kami.
The first structures of the sanctuary date from 711. Earthquakes and fires have destroyed several times the temples and torii gates. At present most of the structures are from the late fifteenth century.
- Igor I. Solar, Fushimi Inari Shrine - Protector of rice and sake in Kyoto, Japan (Online March 2014)
Kitsune [prounced KEET sue nay] is the Japanese word for fox. Foxes are a common subject of Japanese folklore ... Stories depict them as intelligent beings and as possessing magical abilities that increase with their age and wisdom. Foremost among these is the ability to assume human form. While some folktales speak of kitsune employing this ability to trick others- as foxes in folklore often do - other stories portray them as faithful guardians, friends, lovers, and wives.
Foxes and human beings lived close together in ancient Japan; this companionship gave rise to legends about the creatures. Kitsune have become closely associated with Inari, a Shinto kami or spirit, and serve as its messengers. This role has reinforced the fox's supernatural significance. The more tails a kitsune has - they may have as many as nine - the older, wiser, and more powerful it is. Because of their potential power and influence, some people make offerings to them as to a deity.
- Wikipedia (Online March 2014)
An Inari shrine is a shinto shrine to worship the god Inari.
The entrance to an Inari shrine is usually marked by one or more vermilion torii and some statues of kitsune, which are often adorned with red yodarekake (votive bibs) by worshippers out of respect. This red color has come to be identified with Inari, because of the prevalence of its use among Inari shrines and their torii. The main shrine is the Fushimi Inari Shrine in Fushimi, Kyoto, Japan, where the paths up the shrine hill are marked in this fashion.
The kitsune statues are at times taken for a form of Inari, and they typically come in pairs, representing a male and a female. These fox statues hold a symbolic item in their mouths or beneath a front paw - most often a jewel and a key, but a sheaf of rice, a scroll, or a fox cub are all common. Almost all Inari shrines, no matter how small, will feature at least a pair of these statues, usually flanking or on the altar or in front of the main sanctuary. The statues are rarely realistic; they are typically stylized, portraying a seated animal with its tail in the air looking forward. Despite these common characteristics, the statues are highly individual in nature; no two are quite the same.
Offerings of rice, sake, and other food are given at the shrine to appease and please these kitsune messengers, who are then expected to plead with Inari on the worshipper's behalf. At one time, some temples were home to live foxes that were venerated, but this is not current practice.
- Wikipedia (Online March 2014)
Fushimi Inari Shrine is the head shrine of Inari.
This popular shrine is said to have as many as 32,000 sub-shrines throughout Japan.
"Typically, the entrance to a Shinto complex is indicated by one or several large gates called torii. The torii may be constructed of various materials and painted in different colors, however most torii are made of wood and painted red-orange and black." - Igor I. Solar, Fushimi Inari Shrine - Protector of rice and sake in Kyoto, Japan (Online march 2014)
"The first structures of the sanctuary date from 711. Earthquakes and fires have destroyed several times the temples and torii gates. At present most of the structures are from the late fifteenth century." - Igor I. Solar, Fushimi Inari Shrine - Protector of rice and sake in Kyoto, Japan (Online March 2014)
Temizuya, Shinto water ablution pavilion ... Curved eaves
Temizuya, Shinto water ablution
Foxes are thought to be Inari's messengers, resulting in many fox statues across the shrine grounds.
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The fox statues, usually a male and a female, represent the messengers of the spirit or Kami of the Inari deity. They wear a votive (offered, given, dedicated, etc., in accordance with a vow: a votive offering.) red bib and hold a scroll or a key in their mouth. The scroll contains Buddhist readings and the key allows access to the granary where the rice is kept.
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"Often access to a Shinto temple is also marked by statues of animals (Komainu) which may look like a lion or fox and are generally decorated with a ceremonial red bib and may have an object in their mouth, like a rolled message (scroll) or a key." - Igor I. Solar, Fushimi Inari Shrine - Protector of rice and sake in Kyoto, Japan (Online March 2014)
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#1 of two details - Stone lantern
#2 of two details - Tokyo
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#1 of two details - Ceilings customarily are not separately built elements, but rather the underside of the roof is left exposed and acts as the ceiling for the space.
#2 of two details - Chrysanthemums
"Next to the Main Temple of Fushimi Inari is the Worship Shrine or "Haiden" where worshipers pay their respects to the kami by pulling a ribbon, playing a bell, and performing a sequence of bows and hand clapping." Igor I. Solar, Fushimi Inari Shrine - Protector of rice and sake in Kyoto, Japan (Online March 2014)
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Haiden: #1 of four details - End tiles decorated with chrysanthemums ... Hire, swirling or wave patterns found at the bottom right and left of the large chrysanthemum
Haiden: #2 of four details
Haiden: #3 of four details
Haiden: #4 of four details - Worshipers pay their respects to the kami by pulling a ribbon, playing a bell.
"Wooden tablets with the shape of a fox head known as “Ema” can also be purchased for a small charge. Worshipers can draw the face of the fox, write their wish in the reverse of the tablet and hang it in special racks." Igor I. Solar, Fushimi Inari Shrine - Protector of rice and sake in Kyoto, Japan (Online March 2014)
|Fushimi Inari Shrine is famous for its thousands of vermilion torii gates, which straddle a network of trails behind its main buildings. The trails lead into the wooded forest of the sacred Mount Inari, which belongs to the shrine grounds.
At the very back of the shrine's main grounds is the entrance to the torii gate covered hiking trail, which starts with two dense, parallel rows of gates called Senbon Torii ("thousands of torii gates").
The torii gates along the entire trail are donations by individuals and companies; the donor's name and the date of the donation are inscribed on the back of each gate.