Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The 10,000 Torii Gates of Kyoto's Fushimi-Inari Shrine

Every gate is donated, and each one is marked with the donor's name and date of contribution.

When I began planning our trip to Japan last spring, I asked the advice of my dear cousin, Sandra, who had visited there recently. She wrote back,
"There are vending machines for drinks everywhere!!! Like literally everywhere. In the middle of tiny alleyways and right next to people's driveways. So it's good to have coins handy. Loved the green tea ice cream. I think I ate that everyday I was there. "

She also recommended Fushimi-Inari Shrine in Kyoto. As soon as I saw the pictures, I instantly recognized it from one of my favorite scenes in Memoirs of a Geisha when young Sayuri runs through them. Thousands of vermilion torii gates line pathways stretching from behind the shrine's main ground upwards into the wooded hills of sacred Mount Inari. It immediately went on my Must-See List.

Getting there was quite easy. It's across the street from the JR Inari Station, a couple stops from Kyoto Station on the JR Nara Line. We reached it just an hour before dark and found the place quiet with only a few visitors milling around.

Enter through a giant torii gate and then the Romon Gate (donated in 1589).

Stone foxes, messengers of the gods, sit next to the gate watching over a woman dressed in a traditional kimono.

Fox face ema tablets offer up wishes and prayers to spirits and gods.

Two paths, two boys

The dense rows of gates occasionally stop, giving you a view of Kyoto.

Perhaps this young bride is practicing her walk down the aisle.

We had to turn around before reaching the summit since dusk was beginning to settle on the city. I'm so glad my family went, and I'm thankful that Sandra's suggestion led us there.

Sadly, Sandra was suddenly taken from us last weekend. Other than liking each other's Instagram posts, her Kyoto trip recommendation sent six months ago was the last time we communicated. My memories of Fushimi-Inari Shrine are now tinged with sorrow. Even though justice will surely be served, it can't change that she's gone from this earth. But I take solace in knowing that our feet walked on the same pathways and that we both found joy in the experience. I love you Sandra.

Related Post:
Kyoto Station is Enchanted

This post is part of Travel Photo Thursday on Budget Travelers Sandbox, Photo Friday at Delicious Baby, Travel Bucket List Wednesdays at Latin Abroad, and Friday Daydreamin' at R We There Yet Mom? Check them out for more around-the-world travel inspiration.


  1. This was one of my favorite sights in Kyoto. Like you I remembered seeing it in Memoirs of a Geisha. I'm so sorry to hear your cousin was taken from you.

  2. I remember the scene! What a beautiful place to remember your cousin.

  3. So sorry for your loss. Must admit it makes me angry to hear of it. Good, at least, that the horrible creature is behind bars.

  4. I'm so sorry to hear about your loss, these gates are a beautiful place for you to remember your loved one. Beautiful photos.

  5. Oh no, I'm so sorry to hear that you've lost Sandra. Wow!
    I bet walking in her footsteps must have been an emotional experience. What a beautiful place she led you to!

  6. Michele, I am so sorry for the loss of your cousin. I heard about this tragedy in the news and read it in a local paper. Beautiful photos of the Torii gates and a wonderful reminder of her. I love that you were able to capture a kimono-clad lady in one of the Torii.

  7. I am so sorry to hear about your cousin - it does make this a bittersweet memory doesn't it?? It is beautiful and I love that you showed it to us. Thank you for linking up with us this week. I have scheduled to post your link on my FB page at 1 today - do you have a fan page for your blog?

    1. Both of our posts today have to do with Remembrance. My Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/#!/MalaysianMeanders.

  8. This was one of my favorite places in Kyoto as well. Your photos are beautiful.
    I am sorry to hear about your cousin. May she RIP.

  9. remember, this post was also part of Travel Bucket List Wednesdays @LatinAbroad.com ;) thanks for linking up, btw

    Prayers for cousin *hugs* every time I think of history, I think of my uncle (may he rest in peace as well), as he's the one who instilled so much love for travel and ancient civilizations in ruins. Hearing about your cousin and this post somehow reminded me of my own memories…

    love the shot with the bride--I wish the photo was bigger! Was a perfect moment captured

    - Maria Alexandra

    1. Thanks for the reminder. LatinAbroad.com is now listed on the post. I am enjoying your blog. I wish the bride shot was bigger, too. I took it at dusk with my iPhone and the quality wasn't so good.

  10. I'm sorry about your cousin. That's so sad! The pictures and location of the gates are beautiful.

  11. The foxes are kind of curious. Usually cultures choose lions or bears or some other such powerful animal. I wonder what the significance is?


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