Have you ever been past the middle section of Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine? Going deeper into the forest means there is more of a sacred atmosphere in Mt. Inariyama, it is said that the deities live behind the Honden, the main Shrine building. Everyone should take the opportunity to visit the end of the shrine, because there are many things not written in a guide book.
Popularity of Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine
At Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine the main building (Honden 本殿) is located at the bottom and hiking up and back takes 2-3 hours. Many foreigners and Japanese people don’t want to hike for a long period of time while sight-seeing so many don’t go farther than the middle section of the shrine. Around the halfway point, there is the Yotsutsuji intersection, people hike to there, view Kyoto city, take pictures, and return to the main area. Mt. Inariyama is not just a nice place to sight-see or take pictures, it is a sacred place. Hiking around the mountain is called “Oyama-Meguri (お山巡り)” or “Mountain Pilgrimage”. This is one way to worship deities that have been living within the mountain for more than a thousand years. Going past the halfway point means entering an atmosphere with a sacred feeling.
Deities within the Mountain
The main deity is Inari (稲荷), the deity of rice or harvests. Harvesting many crops was a sign of prosperity in the old days. Nowadays, our prosperity doesn’t only come from a plentiful harvest, but from various businesses, and therefore, Inari deity is also said to be the deity of business. Some people say that Inari is so powerful that if the initial promise made is not kept, Inari would punish you. Besides Inari deity, there are many other deities enshrined along the trail.
Shrines with Deities Dedicated to Eyes, Business, and Health
There are many reasons to go further beyond the Yotsu-tsuji intersection. As mentioned before, there are many other deities besides Inari deity in the mountain, and many of them are situated beyond the intersection. Some other deities are close to the Osugi Shrine, Ganriki Shrine, and Yakuriki Shrine. Each shrine is dedicated to a different deity, so making an offering and paying respects to the deity is important.
Each person probably has a favorite shrine, one recommendation is the most impressive shrine beyond Yotsu-tsuji intersection which in Ganriki shrine (眼力社). Ganriki is the deity of eyes. It is believed that people who have eye problems, or those wishing to foresee their future in business could receive some benefit from praying toward Ganriki. There is an old lady living in a house in front of the shrine who takes care of the deity and is one of the most energetic person living on the mountain.
Yakuriki (薬力) is said to be the deity of medicine. Praying there could improve one’s health. The house taking care of this deity offer drinks and eggs for purchasing. It is a calming place to relax and say a prayer.
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Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine
Address: 68 Yabunouchi-cho, Fukakusa Fushimi-ward, Kyoto
Access: 3 minute walk from JR Inari Station on the JR Nara Line 5 minute walk from Keihan Railway Fushimiinari Station
Hours: 7:00 AM – 6:30 PM
Website: Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine (Japanese)