Tuesday, May 1, 2007

About Art - Fushimi Inari-Taisha

Fushimi Inari-Taisha is a shinto jinia (shrine) dedicated to the spirit Inari, located in Fushimi-ku, Kyoto, Japan. It is especially well known for the thousands of bright vermilion torii lining the paths on the hill on which the shrine is located. The torii gates are all donations from individuals, families or companies. The Inari spirit is considered to be the protector of grains, especially rice, and has thus historically been associated with wealth. Company officials often make offerings to Inari shrines in the form of barrels of rice wine (sake) or torii gates. Torii gates are wood and are replaced about every ten years. At the bottom of the hill is the Go-Honden Shrine and the Sakura-mon gate. After following the torii-lined hiking paths, a visitor can stop at various food stalls that specialize in Kitsune udon, a popular noodle dish named after foxes (kitsune) which are regarded as the messengers of Inari, the shinto deity of harvest. Statues of kitsune are often found depicted in Inari shrines with a key (for the rice granary) in their mouths. At the top of the hill is the main shrine. Unlike most Shinto shrines, Fushimi Inari Taisha – in keeping with typical Inari shrines – has an open view of the main idol object (a mirror). The easiest way to get to Fushimi Inari shrine is to take the train. JRInari Station (about 5 min. from Kyoto Station on the Nara Line, directly across the street from the Sakura-mon gate. It is considered one of the most beautiful spots in Kyoto and one of the symbols of Japan. A drawing in Kiyoshi Nozaki's book Kitsune: Japan's Fox of Mystery, Romance and Humor depicts the shrine in 1786 and says that its two-story entry gate was built by warlord Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1536-1598). The shrine, which draws several million visitors over the New Year holiday, was featured in the 2005 film Memoirs of a Geisha. The website is: www.inar.jp

Research info provided by: www.wikipedia.org

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