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More Fushimi Inari Taisha (伏見稲荷大社)

In our last Fushimi Inari episode the topic of ema came up. In addition to ema you can also find mikuji, otherwise known as omikuji, 御神籤, or おみくじ, at most Shinto shrines in Japan.

Fushimi Inari Taisha 伏見稲荷大社 mikuji sakura

These work differently than ema, although to a photographer or appreciator of Japan’s shrines they serve the same basic function of cool window dressing on the other beauties and wonders around every turn. Omikuji are purchased, like ema, but they are not written on. Instead, they already have writing on them. The writing is a fortune–sometimes good, sometimes bad. If you purchase one and it has a 吉 character then you have a good one. The character before the 吉 indicates how good your fortune or blessing is. If yours has a 凶 on it, then you have a curse. Ouch! The way to possibly avoid your curse is to tie it at the above location at the shrine. All those curses make for a work of art.

As you can also see from the above photo, the grounds are meticulously kept and cherry blossom season (sakura) makes things even prettier.

Fushimi Inari Taisha 伏見稲荷大社 torii gates

Fushimi Inari is the head Inari shrine. Other Inari shrines are all over Japan and feature Torii Gates, but Fushimi has the most. I don’t know the exact number, but it must be in the thousands. It’s a wonder to behold, especially if the paths beneath the gates are empty of tourists like they were when we were there. Again, get there before 10 a.m. for best results. Better yet, wear running clothes, get there by 8 or so and run through them all.

Fushimi Inari Taisha 伏見稲荷大社 torii paths kyoto

The writing on one side of the gates indicates what person, or more commonly, company, purchased the torii. On the same side, but other post, of the torii is the date it was purchased (or perhaps installed).

Prior to actually visiting Fushimi Inari, I was picturing one path of a few dozen gates. I was surprised when I got there to find seemingly countless paths of torii, some running parallel, or at least starting parallel, to each other. It’s a maze like no other.

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