Fushimi Inari Taisha

This is yet another flashback post—all the way back to my very first CLS outing on June 11, 2010. The group went out to Fushimi Inari Taisha, one of my favorite Kyoto shrines, for a short hike. Fushimi Inari Shrine is the head shrine of Inari, the Japanese kami (god) of fertility, rice, agriculture, foxes, industry and worldly success and one of the principal kami of Shinto. There are several thousands of shrines dedicated to Inari across Japan. The main shrine structure dates back to 1499, but the most striking feature of Fushimi Inari is its countless red tori gates. Each gate is donated (purchased) by a sponsor, usually a company, hoping to cash in on some of the success that the shrine is supposed to bestow. If you look closely at the photo below, you can see the sponsors’ names written in black characters on both sides of the tori:

People can also leave their meishi (business cards) in hopes of being rewarded in some fashion. I decided to throw my hat in the ring, as you can see in the picture below:

Anyway, it feels pretty amazing to walk beneath countless red tori gates as you hike up trails that wind around Inari-san, the wooded mountain behind the shrine’s main buildings. It takes about two hours to walk along the whole trail. Along the way, you see a number of fox statues and pictures. Foxes are thought to be the messengers of Inari:

Anyway, after some walking, you get to a spot with a fairly nice view of Kyoto, particularly around sunset. Our group lingered here for a while, waiting for a couple of lost/delayed people and enjoying some soft-serve ice cream.

More posts to come, hopefully. This week is crazy-busy with finals and speeches and packing and goodbyes. But after Saturday, I will be traveling for about a week solid, and I suspect that Internet access will be much less available. Lots of pictures and stories still left to share!

By the way, election results are in. Looks like the DPJ did a bit worse than anticipated, and the LDP did a bit better, but the general results were in accordance with my previous post. The Diet is “twisted” again, with the Lower House firmly under DPJ control and the Upper House divided. Looks like the DPJ is definitely going to have to embrace some type of coalition strategy in the Upper House, possibly involving Your Party. But we’ll have to wait and see.