Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine (伏見稲荷大社)

Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine is a Shinto shrine located in Fushimi-ku Ward, Kyoto City. It is the head shrine of the approximately 40,000 shrines around the country that enshrine the Inari-shin (the god of harvest). The main hall is situated at the foot of Mt. Inari and the shrine precinct is considered to consist of the entire mountain.

The shrine is Shikinai-sha (Myojin Taisha) (shrine listed in Engishiki (an ancient book for codes and procedures on national rites and prayers) laws), one of the upper seven of the Twenty-Two Shrines, and was classified as a Kanpei Taisha (the first rank of government supported shrines) under the former shrine ranking system

The main enshrined deity is Ukano Mitamano Okami, which is enshrined along with Satahikono Okami, Omiyanomeno Okami, Tanakano Okami and Shino Okami. As the god of agriculture, Inari is believed to grant abundant harvests, prosperous business and traffic safety.

In 2008, approximately 2,690,000 people visited it for Hatsumode (New Year's visit to a shrine or a temple) during the first three days of the New Year - the most of any temple or shrine in the Kansai region. This figure was released by the National Police Agency.

History

The origin of Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine lies in the Imperial order received by HATANOKIMI no Iroku on the day of Mizunoe-uma in March 4, 711, which commanded him to enshrine mihashirano kami (three gods) at Mitsugamine peak of Mt. Inari. Yamashiro no kuni Fudoki Itsubun (a description of the natural features, culture and history of Yamashiro Province, which is unknown or lost) described how and why HATANOKIMI no Iroku enshrined Inari. The shrine has a deep connection to the Hata clan.

In Jinmyocho (the list of deities) of Engishiki (codes and procedures on national rites and prayers), Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine is described as 'Inari Jinja Sanza' (Inari-jinja shrine of three thrones), classified as a Myojin Taisha (shrines that enshrine gods known as Myojin), and recieved heihaku (a sacramental strip of silk (offered to the gods)) every month and at the harvest festival. With classified as a Kanpei Taisha (Imperial shrine) under the modern shrine ranking system in 1871, the shrine changed its formal name to 'Inari-jinja' to become 'Kanpei Taisha Inari-jinja', but in 1946, after the Second World War, it became a stand-alone religious corporation independent from the Association of Shinto Shrines and its name was changed to 'Fushimi Inari Taisha'. This split was due to the fact that the Association of Shinto Shrines considers Ise-jingu Shrine to be the head of all shrines, but this was unacceptable for Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine. Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine's separation from the Association of Shinto Shrines was not a falling out and the two parties enjoy a good relationship.

The family of hereditary priests who serve the shrine has produced many scholars and includes KADA no Azumamaro, the scholar of ancient Japanese literature and culture. The former residence of KADA no Azumamaro has been preserved within the shrine precinct and stands adjacent to the Azumamaro-jinja Shrine which enshrines him as a deity (originally Setsumatsu sha (smaller shrine managed under the shrine) but is now independent).

Main Building

The current main building was rebuilt in 1499 after the previous structure was destroyed by fire during the Onin War and has been designated an Important Cultural Property.

Approximately 10,000 torii (an archway to a Shinto shrine) dedicated by devotees stand on Mt. Inari, among which the Senbon Torii (a thousand torii) are particularly famous. The custom to dedicate torii started during the Edo period.

Other

In the precinct, there are the countless stone monuments (said to number at least 10,000) known as 'Otsuka.'
These have all been engraved with the names of gods such as 'Byakko Okami' (deity of albino fox) and 'Hakuryu Okami' (deity of white dragon). Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine retains the beliefs that existed before the separation of Shintoism and Buddhism (syncretism of Shinto and Buddhism), and there are even visitors who kneel in front of these stone monuments and recite Hannya Shingyo (Heart Sutra).

Access

West Japan Railway Company, Nara-Line: Inari Station (transfer to a local train from Kyoto Station). The journey takes approximately 5 minutes. Express trains only stop at this station during the New Year holiday.

Keihan Electric Railway, Keihan-Honsen (main line): Fushimi Inari Station.