Fushimi Inari Taisha, Kyoto, Kinki – Japan

The Fushimi Inari Shrine is so much more than just a beautiful place filled with breathtaking things to see. There are thousands of shrines that were built to honor Inari, the Shinto god of rice, but Fushimi Inari is by far the most important of them. To begin with, it’s got some serious history to its credit. It actually predates the moving of the Japanese capital to Kyoto way back in 794, so it’s thought to have roots in the ancient world. It’s also a positively spectacular place to be, walk, meditate, and re-centre yourself.

One of the most stunning features of Fushimi Inari Shrine is its collection of awe-inspiring Torii Gates. Torii Gates traditionally signify the entrance into a very sacred space and the network of pathways that wind throughout the grounds here is straddled by thousands of them. The gates here are painted a captivating shade of stunning scarlet. It is a color reminiscent of the fur of foxes, which are believed to be Inari’s special messengers. Visit the shrine in person at any time and you will see that its grounds are punctuated by many statues and representations of foxes for this reason.

The experience of actually walking the paths of Fushimi Inari’s grounds is indescribable, but ‘Red Gates’ is meant to convey the general impression of it. Walking this quiet, tranquil path as it wound its way to its destination was positively otherworldly. With the many Torii Gates arching gracefully over my head as I passed, I nearly felt as if I were meditating. Surrounded by all that beauty, my ears filled with the peace of nature and my lungs full of the purest air you could imagine, it almost felt as if Inari were watching and protecting me. Or perhaps it was simply a few of his foxes, standing sentinel alongside the path.


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