Our first order of business on day three was to get our butts over to Fushimi Inari Shrine. This shrine is in honor of Shinto, the God of Rice, and if you’re married to an Asian like I am, you’d totally understand why this shrine would just HAVE to be a big deal. It’s one of several thousand shrines dedicated to the god, but by far the most important. Though we arrived early, it was crowded right away.
Music was playing and we caught the end of a performance that allowed no photography, then began going through the winding tails lined with torii within the shrine. I had seen many photos of this shrine, but had no idea how large of an area the winding vermilion torii gates take up. There’s over a thousand torri lining two and a half miles of upward climb to the top of the mountain. After agriculture stopped being the primary focus of the Japanese, Shinto gods have shifted in what they represent. The god of rice is now synonymous with the god of success, and each torii has been donated by individuals or businesses in hopes to have success.
The fox, or Inari Okami, is said to be the messenger of the Shinto God, so there were many depictions of it throughout the shrine. After a short distance on the trail, there was an opportunity to write a wish for the Gods to answer. Others decorated the foxes on the front to personalize it, and we followed suit, then wished for a long and happy life together as husband and wife.
There were shrines for other Gods as well, like the God of Success and the God of relationships
This was the top summit with a view, Yotsutsuji Intersection. According to Japan Guide, few people go higher than this summit. Mark and I, however, are both the type of people that are determined to finish what we began (which, really is a part of what ultimately brought us together: our shared passion for endurance racing) and we kept going and going.
There were many stop-offs on the trails that had foods, souvenirs and drinks for sale. We saw first-hand how they got there:
And we kept going…
Until we reached the top!
On the way down there were more things to see than torii, like these:
And when we explored a bit more at the bottom, there were walls and walls covered with chains of one thousand origami cranes. Ancient Japanese legend says that whoever folds a thousand cranes will have a wish come true by a crane, or possibly eternal good luck. I guess I should get on that!
After we left, we noshed on some delish street food.
We did a bit of shopping, but we had a traditional tea ceremony & Japanese dinner to attend!