The Vast Spiritual Complex in Aichi
Toyokawa Inari is a syncretistic place of worship home to both a Buddhist temple and a Shinto shrine, located in Toyokawa City, in the south-east of Aichi prefecture. It is renowned as one the three largest shrines in Japan dedicated to the kami Inari, the deity of fertility, crops and more broadly of good fortune.
About one hour by train from Nagoya on the Tokaido Shinkansen 🚅 route, the peaceful Toyokawa city unveils an important religious site that perfectly associates Zen Buddhism of the Soto School and Shinto. Built in 1441 by monk Tokai Gieki, most of the present day’s buildings were reconstructed during Meiji Era (1868 – 1912), and the oldest remaining one is the main gate Sanmon, from the 16th century.
Tourism at a leisurely pace
The first worshipers of Toyokawa Inari were warlords hoping to win more battles, and today the place attracts crowds for the New Year and to pray for professional success. On the rest of the year, the temple’s pavilions and shrine edifices are to be discovered leisurely, thanks to its location away from the largest touristic hubs.
The visit begins in the traditional shopping street, with many specialties dish to taste and kawaii souvenirs at the image of Inari. The street leads to the entrance of the compound, symbolically marked by two great stone torii ⛩️ gates. Then the main Buddhist Hall, proudly standing on a hill is in plain sight. A pond, where swim turtles and carps, is a nice complement to the scenery.
The Hill of foxes
The large alleys gradually narrow in a cobbled path, bordered by flags, winding in the heart of a lovely forest landscape. The walk extends on a several acres grounds where twenty eclectic pavilions, rows of lanterns and countless statues of the kitsune fox, the messenger and symbol of kami Inari are spread. At the edge of the park, Reiko-Zuka hill is an iconic scenery, with hundreds of stone foxes dressed in a red apron.