Stories for Fushimi Inari Shrine Kyoto trip

Contents & Roughly telliing

◎ Telling you roughly...

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  • "Thousand Torii" is the place where the toriis have been most densely put up. Though "Thousand" is a lie... There are only 800 of it!

  • Toriis are not only the highlight! Hiking through the mountain, you can experience several kinds of interesting fortune-tellings, see and take a photo with an awesome view, take a break eating Japanese original soft cream, and more...

  • You would see many fox face shaped votive tablets dedicated to the shrine with their withes. But...surprisingly many people scribble and change the fox face to an famous MANGA character! Wow, some are soooo good!

  • Have you ever eaten sparrows or quails? You will taste the runny brain...Please have a try!

Read in Japanese

◎ ざっくり解説すると・・・

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  • 鳥居の密集スポット「千本鳥居」。しかし実は800基くらいしかないんです!

  • 鳥居だけじゃないんです!山登りの途中で、面白い占い、絶景での記念撮影、日本独特のソフトクリームで休憩など、様々な体験が出来ますよ!

  • この神社オリジナルの「キツネの絵馬」。なんとそのキツネの顔に落書きして、漫画のキャラクターに変えてしまう人が続出!バチは当たらないのか!?

  • スズメやウズラの丸焼きを食べたことはありますか?脳みそがトロッと。。。ご賞味あれ!


Photo :Commemorative photo at Fushimi Inari Shrine(伏見稲荷大社でも記念撮影) 

Story of foundation

◎ The very first story of THE ALMIGHTY GOD !

There is a legend as follows.

In the Nara period(710-794), a powerful family in Fushimi ward (Kyoto) shot an arrow at a rice cake , which they used as a target.

Then the rice cake turned into a bird and flew toward Mt.Inari. People located the place where the bird landed.... Surprisingly, they found a rice field with ripe golden ears!!

"Here must be the god of good harvest!!" they said and started to worship the god there.

【Photo】 Main shrine (本殿)
main shrine

Read more about Story of foundation

Because of the episode, people believe the mountain is the very place where the O-Inari-San(the god of Fushimi Inari Shrine) came down for the first time. That's why they have worshipped Fushimi Inari Shrine including the whole mountain since then.

By the way, the word "Inari"(稲荷) as in "Fushimi Inari"(伏見稲荷) came from "Inari"(稲成り) which means "a rice plant ripens".

Later, in the Heian period(794-1192), O-Inari-san came to be well-known not only as the god of good harvests, but also for treating diseases because of an incident.

The Emperor at that time got ill from an unknown cause and the diviner said
"They are constructing a five-story pagoda just now selfishly using wood from Mt.Inari by an Imperial order. It made the O-Inari-san angry."

“Oh, no!” , the court immediately apologized and prayed for the Emperor's recovery to the O-Inari-san. Then the Emperor got better in no time.

On top of that, when an epidemic spread all over Kyoto, it ended just after the court worshipped the O-Inari-san again.

The rumor got around and then visiting the O-Inari-san became extremely popular with everyone from nobles to commoners. The belief of O-Inari-san gradually spread and many shrines which venerate this god were built throughout Japan.

Other than that, many stories about the O-Inari-san came up from place to place over many years.

For example, the god helped some store in trouble to revive its business, or granted a huge success in life to someone, Toyotomi Hideyoshi(1537-1598) was a poor peasant's son. It was said that his mother worshipped the O-Inari-san hoping his success in life. And eventually he united Japan for the first time in its history,…..and so on.

Therefore the Fushimi Inari Shrine ended up as a shrine of an ALMIGHTY GOD.

Believe it or not....But it's a good chance. 
Why don't you make a heartfelt wish to the O-Inari-san?

Read in Japanese
















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"Tips" to enjoy the Highlights

1. A Thousand Torii / "Thousand” is a LIE!?

At Fushimi Inari Shrine lines up an amazing amount of Torii gates. It is said that there are almost 10.000 in total. The “Thousand Torii” which I want to introduce in this article is the name of the place where the Toriis have been most DENSELY put up. And for that, it is the place where the scenery is most impressive.

No matter how many times I see them... I always am astonished!!
It’s SOOO CRAZY to put up such a number of Toriis!!

【Photo】 Thousand Torii (千本鳥居)

Read more about Ninomaru Palace

The scenery of the Thousand Torii is known as one of the representative sceneries of Japan, recently. It should be because the picturesque view is so unique and beautiful and for that it has been appearing in many guide books.

Let me give you some other ways to enjoy the Toriis, further more!!

☆High contrast to green & makes us open minded

The vivid vermillion color of the Toriis are in HIGH CONTRAST with the green of the forest. I didn’t know that these 2 colors enhance each other like this.

It’s so beautiful!

【Photo】 High Contrast (絶妙なコントラスト)
High Contrast

For me, the silent atmosphere of the green forest which you can see between the bold color of the toriis always makes me positive and feel like
“I’ll do my best in my life and will not be bothered by trifles !! ”
I’m happy if you will feel the same! hahaha

☆”Thousand” is a LIE!

Let me give you an interesting tip.

THOUSAND is not the exact number of the toriis built at the place. To tell you the truth, only about eight hundred of toriis stand there.

It is said that there used to be nearly 1000 toriis at the place, though in the 1950-60’s, the thickness of the each Torii’s pillar was changed. The area the toriis can be put up was limited so the number of the toriis had been reduced from that time on.

By the way “Thousand” is still used to express the meaning of a “great number”. So, “Thousand” is a
lie in a sense, but never mind. hehe

☆Build your own torii!

Surprisingly, you can donate your OWN TORII.

The price to have your own torii built depends on the size of it. You need to pay around $1,600※ for the smallest one(diameter: 15cm) and $11,800 for the biggest one(diameter of the pillars: 30cm).’s quite expensive…

【Photo】 Signboard of the Torii Price (鳥居の料金を表示した看板)
Devote own torii

Despite the price, the toriis last only for 4 to 5 years because they get continuously damaged by the wind and the rain. It is said that about 3 toriis are rebuild every day. You would see many toriis which are now being reconstructed on your way.

I’m happy if these tips will make you enjoy the place further more!

Read in Japanese

2. 千本鳥居 / “1000本” はウソ!?!














その値段は大きさによって大きく変わってきます。一番小さい鳥居(直径 15cm)で1600ドル※です。一番大きな鳥居(直径 30cm)を建てるには11,800ドル必要です。う~ん、無茶苦茶高いですね。。。
※ 1ドル = 110円



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2. Omokaru Stone / Will your wish come true!?!

After passing through “The Thousand Torii”, there stands a small shrine named ”Okusya”.

“What’s that line of people behind the Okusya?”

It looks like they are doing something in turn. Actually, they are lining for the small shrine which is located behind the Okusya and there are two lantern-shaped stone platforms like pagodas at both sides of the small shrine.

【Photo】 Lining for the small shrine(小さな神社に並ぶ人)
Omokaru stone1

The board says “Omokaruishi”.  But, what on earth does it mean???

Read more about Picture of “Omokaru Stone”

Literally, OMO=重 means "heavy" and KARU=軽 means "light" and ISHI=石 means "stone". So the meaning of "Omokaruishi" is heavy and light stone.

To tell you the truth, this is a kind of FORTUNE-TELLING

and you will realize whether your wishes will come true or not by lifting it up. It is said your wish will come true if you think the stone is lighter than you imagine. But in the opposite case, it is said that your wish will not come true.

Now it’s your turn!
First, pray to God between two stone platforms and make a wish. Next, choose one of the two stone platforms. And then lift the round stone which is the upper part of the stone platform.

How did you think?

Speaking for myself…..I made a wish like this…...
“Give me great beauty!!”
“Ooooooops! I already had it lol”
“Ok then, make me win the lottery!! ”

In the photo, it looks as if I lifted it up easily. But it isn’t correct. I thought the weight of the stone was the same as my estimate. It was not heavier or lighter than I expected.

【Photo】 Trying the Omokaru Stone(おもかる石をやってみる)
Omokaru stone2

Hmmmmmm, God might be saying to me like "Make your money through your own effort, not just with the luck of the lottery!"

How heavy we imagine the weight of the stone is up to our mental preparation. If we think that we can achieve our wishes easily, the stone will be heavy. On the other side, if we think to achieve our wishes very strictly, the stone might be light.

That is to say, the stone might be telling us that "strong will is the most important factor which leads us to achievement". What a thoughtful stone! haha

By the way, there is another “Omokaruishi” at the middle of the return path.

Please try to find the “Omokaruishi” by taking a look at the photo after the article.
When you find it, lift the square stone up at your feet. Like the former stone, how you will think when you lift it up, implies whether you will have good luck or not.

A paper is stuck on the stone. It says “Omokaruishi is the God itself. Lift it up carefully” . NEVER drop it!
Oh! Please take care of your back!!!

【Photo】 Omokaru Stone at the return path(帰り道のおもかる石)

Read in Japanese

2. おもかる石 / あなたの夢は叶う!?



「あの人の列は何だろう?」 順番に何かしているようです。その人たちは奥社の後ろの小さな祠の前に並んでいます。その祠の両側には小さな塔が立っています。




さあ、あなたの番ですよ。 まず、真ん中の祠の前で手を合わせて願い事をしましょう。次に二つの石塔のうちどちらかを選んでください。そして、石塔の一番上の丸い石を持ちあげて下さい。


私はと言うと…… こんな願い事をしました。
「オーッと 既に持ってるじゃん!」


石の重さをどう感じるかは、持つ前の心構えによって違います。 望みが簡単に叶うと思っていると、案外重く感じ、反対に真剣に願いを叶えようと思っていると軽く感じるそうです。



決して落としたりしないようにね。 あっ、腰に十分気を付けて!

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3. Hiking to the top / 2-3 hours Sacred Hiking<

☆Why people head for Inari mountain?

Fushimi Inari shrine is one of the most popular places in Kyoto. What can we do here? Praying at the main shrine, walking through the Thousand Torii, and trying the fortune telling with “Omokaru Stone”. These are not ALL. We actually can have much more fun!!

The main hall of the shrine is situated at the foot of Mt inari. And the whole mountain is regarded as the sacred area of Fushimi Inari shrine.

When tourists come to Okusha where you can try “Omokaru-Stone” fortune telling, many of them might give up to go further more. But if you still have energy to go up, hike through the mountain area feeling the mysterious atmosphere. It will take 2-3 hours for a round walk. So...ready? Let's go!!

【Photo】 Map of Inari mountain(稲荷山の地図)
Map of the Inari mountain

Read more about “Hiking to the top”

☆“O-tsuka” here and there

When you walk along the path, you will see peculiar groups of small shrines.  Each shrine is called “o-tsuka”, which belongs to the person, the group, or the company that believes in Inari. It is ”one’s own Inari God” that you can create and dedicate to the sacred mountain by yourself. We Japanese would be awestruck when we see the candles lighted at the “o-tsuka” area. I wonder how you will feel at the sight.

【Photo】 O-tsuka and the candles (お塚とろうそく)
 Otsuka & Candles

☆Echo Divination

Go a little bit more after passing through Thousand Torii, you will see a mysterious small shrine ”Kumataka-sya” and a small pond ”Kodamaga-ike”. You can try an “Echo Divination” here. This is how to do it.

1) Pray for Kumataka-sya and make one wish.
2) Clap hands twice towards Kodamaga-ike.
3) In the direction which the echo comes from, you will find a clue for happiness.
4) If you feel that the claps echo far from you, it takes long that your wish come true.
5) If you feel the claps echo close to you, your wish come true earlier.

【Photo】 Kodamaga-ike (谺が池(こだまがいけ))

☆Have a break at “Yotsu-tsuji” (四ツ辻)

When you may get tired of walking, you will come to “Yotsu-tsuji”, a crossroad halfway up the mountain. The TOWN VIEW from here is awesome! I feel like taking a deeeep breath under such a pleasant sky as in the photo. Why don`t you have a break at an old teahouse, ”Nishimura-tei”, which is on the corner there. This shop is well known as the home of an actor, Kazuhiko Nishimura.  You can have light meals and sweets. My first recommendation is “Kinako (roasted soy powder) softcream”. YUMMY YUMMY!  Enjoy the Japanese original flavor!

【Photo】 Town View (景色)
Town View

☆Walking around the mountain top area

From Yotsu-tsuji, you can make a round-walk of the mountain top area. Going in the clockwise direction or counterclockwise direction? I would recommend the counterclockwise direction. Just because it’s easy !

【Photo】 Nishimura-tei & the direction (にしむら亭と方向)

Going up through the continuous torii tunnels, you will be on top of the mountain in about 15 minutes. We cannot expect the nice view even at the top of the mountain. But the big “o-tsuka” area makes us feel something awe-inspiring instead.

It is a little dark and damp on the way back to Yotsu-tsuji from the top. In addition there are some small shrines (see below) and it makes the atmosphere more mysterious. I hope you will enjoy this unique sight of the mountain.

May Inari God bless you!!

★Some of the small shrines that you will see in the mountain
・Choja-sya・・・effective for longevity
・Yakuriki-sya・・・effective for health
・Ganriki-sya・・・effective for eye desease

【Photo】 Way to the top (頂上への道)

Read in Japanese

2. 頂上へのハイキング / 2-3時間の聖なるハイキング













ここ「四ツ辻」に「にしむら亭」という古い茶店があり、休憩にはもってこい! このお店は俳優の西村和彦さんの実家として知られています。軽いお食事と甘味がいただけます。一番のおすすめは「きなこソフトクリーム」。これ、ほんとに美味しいんだから! 日本独特の味を楽しんでください。


四ツ辻から山の頂上付近をぐるりと一回りします。時計回りか半時計周り、どちらで行こうか? おすすめは反時計回りです。(写真参照)だってこっちの方が断然に楽チンです!





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A Bit of history

1. Votive tablets / Scribble on the God!?

☆Foxes and rice balls!?

There is a big difference between Fushimi Inari Shrine and other shrines.

A pair of stone guardian lion- dogs called Komainu is usually placed at the entrance of Shinto shrines. It is said that they have the power to expel evil. But at Fushimi Inari Shrine you will see a pair of guardian foxes instead.

Why foxes then??

【Photo】 Guardian Foxes (狐の守り神)

Read more about “Votive tablets”

Inari is regarded as a God of good harvest as you can see in the article “Story of foundation”. According to a legend wild rats used to eat ripened crops. Foxes ate those hateful rats. It made people very happy.

Or it is also said that the tails of foxes resemble the ripe rice ears.

In any case foxes seem to be closely related with good harvest. That's the reason why people believed that foxes are the messengers of the Inari God. So we see a lot of foxes here and there at the Inari shrine.

When talking of Fushimi Inari Shrine, we must not forget to mention “abura-age”, deep-fried thin tofu. Once upon a time, people offered rice balls to foxes in hope of a rich harvest. But the foxes didn't eat them at all. Then they tried wrapping rice balls with abura-age. Why abura-age? I don't know, sorry… but I can guess that it was very familiar food to everybody, and its color is same as the color of foxes. So they just thought foxes would like it. And, YES! Foxes started to eat the rice balls as they expected.

【Photo】 Rice balls wrapped with abura-age=Inari-sushi (油揚げで包んだご飯=稲荷寿し)
Inari sushi

Based on this story, rice balls wrapped with abura-age became to be called “o-inari-san” or “Inari-zushi”, just same as the name how we call Fushimi Inari Shrine in friendly way.

☆Wish on “ema” (e=picture, ma=horse)

What is very popular in this shrine is Senbon torii arcade (Thousand torii arcade). You may not feel satisfied with only going through the arcade. If you think so, I recommend you to buy an ‘ema’, a votive tablet. It is what we dedicate to a shrine or a temple with our wish written on it.

Originally people used to dedicate real horses, but not all the people could do it. People who couldn't get real ones dedicated figures of horses made of wood, paper or clay. Those were gradually taken place with drawn images of horses on small wooden board, which we usually call “ema”, votive tablets.

Literally, "ema" writes like "絵馬" in Kanji. "絵" means picture and "馬" means horse. So the meaning of the word is "Picture Horse".

Nowadays we see different types of “ema”. Gosh! Some of them do not have horse images on them!! Can we still call them “ema“ which means “picture horse”?! Lol

Well, anyway, we will find two kinds of unique ema here in Fushimi Inari shrine.

One is in fox head shape. You can get and dedicate one for 500yen. Generally speaking you are supposed to write your wish on ema. But on this fox head ema you can draw “manga face” or anything you like.

You would see many fox head shaped emas scribbled and changed to the face of the famous Manga characters. Wow, some are so gooood!

Inari God would be glad to see and accept the unique tablet that you make. Or off course you can write your wish on it.

【Photo】 Fox head shape ema (狐の顔の形の絵馬)
ema with fox face shape

The other kind of ema is in torii shape. Though it actually has a very small space to write your wish on, the divine favour would be given equally.

【Photo】 Torii shape ema (鳥居の形をした絵馬)
Torii shape ema

You will see a bunch of these emas here and there. If you have enough energy and patience, why don't you count the number of torii and foxes?hahaha

Read in Japanese

1. 絵馬 / 神様に落書き!?












現在、様々なタイプの絵馬を目にします。 しかし、なんと、馬の絵が描いていない「絵馬」もあるのです! それでも「絵馬」と呼ぶか???(笑)







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Souvenirs & Specialty foods

1. Roasted sparrows and Inari-zushi / Disgusting or Acceptable?

Do you know Fushimi inari Shrine is known not only for the big vermillion gates, but also for the special foods?

There are many restaurants and shops on both sides of the street called ”Inari sando shopping street” until you reach the entrance of the shrine. There are two things which I want to reccomend. One is “Roasted sparrows”, and the second is “Inari-zushi”.

【Photo】 Inari sando shopping street (稲荷参道)
Inari sando shopping Street

Read more about “Roasted Sparrows & Inari-zushi”

☆Roasted Sparrows

Have you ever eaten or do you traditionally eat sparrows in your country? 
If not, try whole roasted sparrows on skewers.

It is one of the best known snacks in the Fushimi Inari Shrine area and has a long tradition.

It is said that people around this area started to eat the sparrows to protect the rice grains from them. Because the deity of this shrine is the deity of harvest so it has been top priority to protect the grains!

Besides, there is a common food called “Yakitori(grilled chicken on skewers)” in Japan. But “Roasted Sparrow” are completely different from it. For “Yakitori” we only grill the meat part but for this “Roasted sparrows” we grill the whole...from head to toe…

【Photo】 Roasted quails (うずらの丸焼き)
Roasted quails

When you eat the head part you will feel the runny brain spreading in the mouth. Eating the body part, you will become aware of the crunchy texture and smell the liver. The chewy meat will make convince you are eating a wild bird. hahaha

Unfortunately, restaurants providing “Roasted sparrows” are decreasing. Nowdays, only two restaurants are selling it.  “稲福(Inafuku)” and “日野屋Hinoya”. So please find out either of them. ※Attached the map below.

Roasted quails are provided too, so please try it.


For me, it’s not so bad. The spice is doing a good job. The meat doesn’t have a strong flavor. But I would prefer to eat Chicken! haha

【Photo】 The author Eating Roasted quails (うずらの丸焼き食べる筆者)
Eating roasted quails

☆Inari-zushi(vinegared rice wrapped in deep-fried bean curd)

Another one is “Inari-zushi”, a rice ball wrapped with deep fried thin tofu which is seasoned with soysauce and sugar, called “abura-age”.

【Photo】 Inari zushi (稲荷寿し)
Inari zushi

In Japanese, we pronouce “sushi” as “zushi” when we connect another word before it.

“Abura-age” wrapping the rice is said to be the special favorite of the foxes. And this sushi has been named “Inari-zushi” because FOX is said to be the messenger of the deity of the shrine.

It is a kind of sushi without raw fish. 
You may think sushi with fish but actually sushi means rice seasened with vinegar. Inari-zushi, especially in Inari area, are formed in triangular shape which is said to be imitating the Inari mountain and the fox’s ear.

Personally, I love the “Inari-zushi” sold here. To tell you the truth, you can eat “Inari-zushi” in any sushi restaurant all over Japan, though the one here is awesome!

You can buy it anywhere around the shrine and the taste is good wherever you buy it. You can take out it too.

If you want to eat at a famous restaurant, I prefer to go to “祢ざめ家(Nezameya)” or “日野屋(Hinoya)”. “Hinoya” is the same restaurant which I recommended to eat the sparrow.  ※Attached the map below

Please enjoy the speciality food in addition to the shrine!

【Photo】 Map of the restaurants (飲食店の地図)

Read in Japanese

1. すずめの丸焼きと稲荷寿司 / 気持ち悪い?それともいける口?




















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Open times(拝観時間)
Open 24hours
※ The shops where you can buy the lucky charms and etc are open 7:00-18:00


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