If you want to visit all the shrines on Mt. Inari, but don't quite have the time, this is the route for you. First, this route takes you through the senbon torii gates and to the inner shrine. From this location you can save time by worshiping all the deities of the moutain from a distance.
The main shrine of Fushimi Inari has been designated as an important cultural asset by the government. It is rather a large building for a shrine. The fine metalwork on the decorative gable pendants and the rafter-end covers are representative of the Azuchi-Momoyama period whose structures and motifs are bold and dynamic while elegant.
Symbolic not only of the Fushimi area but also of Kyoto, these torii gates line the way from the inner shrine on Inariyama Mountain all along the path to the shrine. It was believed that persons that made offerings of torii gates would have their prayers answered. This custom originates from the homonym toru (come true/pass through). Another custom, replacing your torii gate with a bigger one every time a prayer was answered, took hold. Images of the gates are impressive, but actually standing among them can feel otherworldly.
After the Senbon Torii (thousand torii gates) is the Okusha Hohaisho in Myobu (fox court lady) Valley backed by Inariyama Sangamine (Three Ridges of Inariyama Mountain). The area is also known as Okuno-In (the innermost shrine), and was built to pray to distant mountain deities. The outer shrine, the main shrine and the torii gate of Inari Okami Deity are located in a straight line to facilitate this. The main shrine was built during the Muromachi period (around 1500 A.D.)
The grounds of Fushimi Inari Shrine are expansive. It takes time to reach the top of the hill and visit every spot. Don't miss Oku-sha, the inner shrine just after the thousand torii gates. Here, you can try lifting an omokaru-ishi, (heavy/light stones). First, pray in front of the lanterns. Then, place a stone on the top. It is said that your prayer will come true if you feel the stone is lighter than expected. If you feel it is heavier, your prayer will not be answered.
This shrine is independent, not a branch of Fushimi Inari Shrine, in spite of being located located within the grounds. It was established in the Heian period and was originally on Inariyama Mountain. It is now on the hill of the thousand torii gates. Amaterasu Omikami is its main deity. It also enshrines Inari Okami and 10 sacred treasures. In front of the main shrine, in place of the usual liondogs, you will find a pair of guardian dragons.
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