With a history tracing back to the 8th century, Fushimi Inari Taisha is the headquarters of the some 30,000 Inari shrines around the country. Located on and around Mt. Inari, the shrine complex is comprised of easily accessible worship halls at the base of the mountain connected via vermillion torii gate-lined paths winding up the heavily wooded heights to more remote inner shrines and surprises that require some hiking to reach. Some ten thousand torii gates line the walkways of Fushimi Inari Taisha and serve as its most charming and outstanding feature. Another popular point of this shrine is the numerous statues of kitsune, foxes who are thought to serve as the messengers of the god of agriculture and business, Inari. It’s quite fun to take a stroll throughout the shrine grounds seeing how many sorts of fox statues you can locate. At the base of the mountain visitors can enjoy the large first torii gate right outside the local train station as well as the towering shrine gate before reaching the prayer hall, the main hall, and the shrine offices, with several souvenir shops nearby selling all manner of fox-related memorabilia. A short hike up a slight incline takes one to the mid-way shrine where you can write a wish on a fox-shaped votive tablet. Those with more time and energy can continue hiking up the mountain to the shrine at the very top and discover some of the more hidden gems of the shrine the deeper you go in to the forest, as well as enjoy the panoramic view of the city below.
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