Fushimi Inari Taisha
The 10,000 Torii Sanctuary in Kyoto
Fushimi Inari Taisha is the largest Shinto shrine in Japan located in the south of Kyoto. Built in 711, it is dedicated to the goddess of rice Inari and more broadly to wealth. The beautiful complex unveils through a walk in a valley delineated by thousands of vermilion torii gates.
Small shrines are scattered at the foot of the mountain, but the real attraction of the area is the hiking trail that opens into the valley. Of about a two hours’ walk at a normal pace it traces a few kilometers tread between trees and under more than ten thousands torii ⛩️. The most famous part is a short double path of a few tens of meters, with well-maintained portals on the lower end. Consequently, people flock here to take pictures but the higher you go, the less you hear heels snapping!
Meaning of Inari shrine’s torii gate
It may be surprising but the torii are funded by businessmen, corporations or large company groups. On the back of each of the structures, the patron’s name and date of installation are written. For the anecdote, having one’s own torii gate costs about from ¥175,000 (~US$1,171) and up to ¥1,3 million (~US$8,716) for the most visible, and with a several-years long waiting line to see it built!
If you do not read Japanese, they can be quite aesthetic, but don't forget it's still a form of advertising. Especially since all the torii are not as well maintained as those in the lower part. Many have lost their initial brightness and some have even been uprooted.
The tour is very nice, with places to rest and restaurants along the hike, accompanied by some rare shops. All along the way, one can contemplate torii of all sizes, it's pretty fun. Moreover, shops along the way sell torii, but at a rather prohibitive price (about ¥2,500 / ~US$16.74 for the smaller ones). Lastly, for Internet addicts, free WiFi 📶 is available a few meters after the summit (233 meters), but it is well hidden!
The place can be seen in the movie Memoirs of a Geisha.