Inari: the mountain of torii gates

Slice of Mango Slice of Life

by: Aries Lucea

Living in a place with short access to Kyoto is such a great thing. There is always something you havenÅft seen or done yet in Kyoto, with its myriad cultural events and loads of amazing historical and religious sights and beautiful sceneries. With a family like mine who is always out and looking for a new adventure but runs on a tight budget, Kyoto is just a train ride away.

This brought us on an impulsive trip to the famous Fushimi Inari Taisha, a very important Shinto shrine which sits on a base of a mountain. There are thousands of shrines dedicated to Inari, all over Japan. Inari Okami is primarily the god of rice, however, also venerated as the patron of merchants and businesses. This begs me to ask the question, could ÅgokamiÅh mea-ning fox, which is an animal described to be cunning and shrewd might be the reason this god is related to business?

The shrine is popular with its mountain trails lined up with thousands of torii gates. Just when you thought shrines and temples in Japan are starting to look all the same, then you are in for an orange- filled surprise at Inari Mountain. The amazing mountain hike is lined up with torii gates donated by businesses ranging from small size torii for around 200,000 yen to a large one for more than a million yen.

You can reach the top of the mountain on a 2-hour climb. My family did a slow hike with two short snack breaks and another for lunch. We ate our bento and had some ice cream after an hour of ascent to Yotsutsuji intersection, which offers a nice view of the city down below.

The main shrine at the base of the mountain was grand and very beautiful. The trails up the mountain were dotted with smaller and ornate shrines, some of which I would even say felt kind of cozy.

The place is also famous for grilled ÅgsuzumeÅh, those sparrows which looks like a larger version of our Philippine ÅgmayaÅh. But some stalls I noticed are grilling quail rather than sparrows. Of course, inari sushi is dish known here, but it pretty much tastes the same anywhere else in Japan. Fushimi Inari can be reached directly through JR Line and a very short walk using the Kintetsu railway.