Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Kyoto Day 6.1: Fushimi

Monday, September 22, 2008

This day has to be broken into two entries because of all the cool photos. First up is Fushimi, home of the Fushimi Inari Taisha. This is one of my favorite places in Japan, and it holds special significance to me, too, because it's the home shrine of my own characters from TALE.

If you love foxes—and really, who doesn't?—this collection of five shrines is a place you definitely want to go. The main shrine is head to 10,000 other Inari shrines, so it's a popular place and very beautiful. All over Mt. Inari the vermilion torii gates cover paths that you can walk. If you've watched Memoirs of a Geisha, you'll be familiar with the sight.

You start by walking under a big torii gate to approach the main shrine.

Up some stairs is three smaller shrines—one for cats, one for a horse, and my favorite: the one for the myoubu (white foxes.)

It's said these foxes got their name from a court woman of the myoubu rank.

Up more stairs and through a torii tunnel, there's a place to buy fox-face prayer plaques as well as various tokens.

There are two other big shrines. One is by a little lake, and the other is on the way down the mountain. All along the way there are collections of little shrines with foxes guarding them. One fox holds a granary key in its mouth—a carry over from when Inari was a god of grains and the harvest. The other fox holds a ball.

We had tea at a place that overlooks the mountain. The tea came with a small mochi & red bean treat. (Like rice jello with red bean filling.)

The final shrine we saw had many small kimono-wearing foxes on its altar. These foxes are like the prayer plaques or torii, as they also represent donations to the shrine.

I bought a small fox charm here, and I'm hoping the woman meant "for you" when she said kimi (an affectionate way of saying 'you') as I handed it for her. Later, as we walked to the main road, we passed by a Buddhist temple. (Where a passerby mistook me for a kyuubi/nine-tailed fox. It's a reoccurring theme thanks to a currently popular animation series called Wagaya no Oinari-sama, which features a blonde blue-eyed fox girl.)


Rachel said...

They have a shrine for cats! COOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And it sounds like a very magical day for you.

JohnEvans said...

Did someone draw a little foxgirl on their prayer plaque before they hung it up? That is so awesome. ^_^