Kyoto: Fushimi Inari Taisha

Located in Fushimi-ku, Kyoto Prefecture in Japan, Fushimi Inari Taisha / Shrine (伏見稲荷大社) is the head shrine  of Inari. It serves as the general headquarters of all 30,000+ shrines dedicated to Inari. It is one of the oldest shrines in Kyoto. It can be found st the base of Mount Inari and is one of the most visited places in Kyoto.
The earliest structures of Fushimi Inari Shrine were built in 711 on Inariyama hill in the southwestern part of Kyoto. The shrine was then relocated in 816 upon the request of the monk Kukai. The main shrine however was built sometime in 1499. Fushimi Inari Shrine became an object of imperial patronage during the early Heian period. Inari as you may know is the god of rice and aside from that the patron of business. Because of that, The shrine is frequented by businessmen wishing for a success in their business. Some of these businessmen (those who became successful) donated hundreds (probably thousands) torii to Fushimi Inari Taisha. These orange traditional Japanese gates serves as gates for sacred places.
The Romon gate as seen from the Ni-no-Torii
The Romon gate... Toyotomi Hideoshi's donation for the recovery of his sick mother.


Nai-haiden (the inner hall of worship)
Gai-haiden (the outer hall of worship)
Posing at the shrine vicinity
Fushimi Inari Taisha was the first place that we have visited when we went on a tour of Kyoto Prefecture. I was amazed with the numbers of tourists visiting the shrine. The first time I saw this number of people flocking to one place was in Universal Studios Japan.
Inside the pathway lined up with torii gates
Run Ella! Run!
Posing at the torii gates
Posing with my daughter
What I like about Fushimi Inari Taisha are the sight of the hundreds of torii gates lined up in the compound. It gives a dramatic effect to the pictures that I take and also makes the place unique compared to the other historical places in Kyoto. I also enjoy taking pictures of the kitsune (fox) statues (They are the guardians of the shrine) scattered around the vicinity. 
A Komainu or guardian dog holding what seems to be a sickle (but this one is a fox)
Another Komainu holding a fruit
One of the entrances/exits of the vicinity
Fox heads are used to write down prayers or wishes
Given a chance I'd like to hike up to the peak of Mt. Inari. In that way I'd complete my tour of the shrine and take a picture of Kyoto's Fushimi Ward.
The place where visitors could wash/purify their hands...
... using specialized water dippers
Near the map of the shrine vicinity

Overall, Fushimi Inari Shrine is a place of unique beauty and appeal. I just have to warn you though, expect a huge crowd when you visit.

Getting there:

From Kansai International Airport, ride a JR Haruka Limited Express line to Kyoto. From there, you could ride a taxi going to the shrine.

Ratings:
Crowd
Cleanliness
Overall rating

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