Takayama Inari-jinja (Aomori), Shrine's alley with torii gate and vermilion lanterns

Takayama Inari-jinja

The Red Torii Gates Tunnel in Aomori

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Takayama Inari-jinja is a Shinto shrine on the Tsugaru Peninsula in Aomori Prefecture. Locally renowned for its beautiful red torii gates tunnel, in summer its attractiveness is elevated by the flowering and the vegetation growing in its natural setting. Far away in the north of Japan, it is mainly reachable by car.

Takayama Inari-jinja, despite its location away from the city, in the heart of Aomori Prefecture, is one of the most important spiritual sites of the north of Japan. Alongside with the popular Fushimi Inari Taisha in Kyoto and Motonosumi Inari in Yamaguchi, it belongs to the Inari shrines and displays on its grounds a remarkable red torii ⛩️ gates tunnel, called 千本鳥居 Senbon-Torii in Japanese.

Takayama Inari-jinja (Aomori), Senbon-Torii tunnel and vegetation in winter

Typical shrine dedicated to the god of harvests

Founded in 1701, Takayama Inari shrine is dedicated to Uka-no-mitama, the kami deity of agriculture. Coming from the Japanese mythology and mentioned in the famous founding narrative of the Kojiki ("Records of Ancient Matters"), Uka-no-mitama is the former name of kami Inari. The myths surrounding this deity are nonetheless intricate.

From the cult of a harvest god, Inari is revered nowadays as the kami of successful business and wealth. The dedicated Shinto shrines are easily recognizable thanks to the many fox statues displayed in their grounds, this animal being indeed the deity’s official messenger.

The visit of Takayama ends in a long row of fox statues, all wearing a bib. Each of the stone figures is originating from other Inari shrines throughout the archipelago. After their time as messengers and protectors, these weathered statues are sent here as the place for their eternal rest.

Takayama Inari-jinja (Aomori), Statues of Inari's messenger foxes

Walking under a thousand of torii gates

The highlight of Takayama Inari-jinja comes after the visit of the main hall and the adjacent worship pavilion Haiden, and several stairways.

Nestled on the side of a woody hill, the shrine’s Japanese garden encompasses a pond from which a stream is welling, and alongside which the famous Senbon-Torii tunnel is winding. Like a red dragon, it is elegantly slithering through vegetation and water. Its is as beautiful from one of the several viewpoints afar as inside when walking under the nearly 1,000 traditional Shinto gates.

Weather and seasons are 2 important factors to decide when visiting the shrine, so as to make sure having the best view on the torii gates tunnel. As a matter of fact, we highly recommend to go on a beautiful day in spring 🌸 or summer, to admire the red gates surrounded by the green trees and seasonal blooming such as the hydrangeas’. In winter, especially if there is no snow, the beauty of the site is belittled by the dormant vegetation.

Takayama Inari-jinja (Aomori), Sanno-jinja shrine

Remote location on the seaside

Sitting at the northern end of Western Honshu, on the Tsugaru peninsula, Takayama Inari-jinja is on the coastline of the Sea of Japan. Its wooden constructions are therefore weathered by the climate and the ocean and deteriorate more quickly. Colors on the lanterns 🏮 have faded and some are heavily eroded.

The shrine requires a lot of expensive maintenance and the head priest therefore resorted to fundraising to restore and keep the brightness of the site’s vermilion monuments. A renovation project regarding the torii tunnel has started in April 2021.

We recommend driving to the shrine as it is far from the city and consequently little frequented, but it is a nice discovery during an autonomous travel in Aomori’s region.

This article was written after a tour sponsored and organized by Akita and Aomori prefectures to promote the destination #feeltohoku. Kanpai has been invited and guided but keeps a total freedom of editorial content.
⬇️ Further down this page, discover our visit guide in Takayama Inari-jinja and around.
By Kanpai Updated on February 06, 2023 Takayama Inari-jinja