Daily Archives: April 23, 2011

Thousands of Torii Gates

Entrance to Fushimi Inari

Fushimi Inari is the oldest of all Inari shrines in Japan, said to be founded around 711 AD; this date also coincides with the first recorded instance of Inari worship.  It’s the head shrine, and the largest, and there are as many as 32,000 other sub-shrines in Japan.  Inari is the Japanese Shinto diety (or kami) of agriculture, fertility, rice, wealth, and industry. Her messengers are represented by foxes — kitsune — most commonly found as a duo in front of the shrine – one holding a key to the rice granary and the other holding a jewel or a scroll.  The Fushimi complex is also known for the thousands of striking torii gates (“senbon torii”) that line the pathways up to sacred Mount Inari.  No one knows exactly how many torii there are, but they are all donated by businesses hoping for wealth and blessings from Inari — the size of the gate coincides with how much the benefactor donates. Continue reading

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