The Cats of Fushimi Inari

Like many Japanese shrines and temples, Fushimi Inari Taisha, south of Kyoto, has its share of resident cats. Although not numerous, the cats appear to be permanent residents of the shrine, and though some, like this little fellow: seem to live on the mountain itself. That said, unlike most feral cats, the residents of Fushimi Inari seemed eager for human attention. The handsome tuxedo in the photo above followed me along the path, meowing insistently, until I stopped to pet him. A group of visitors gathered behind me, pointing at the cat, and as soon as I left him they moved in

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The Path of 1,000 Torii (Fushimi Inari, Part 3)

(Click here to start the series from the beginning.) Near the base of Mount Inari (Inariyama), past the stairs that lead from the Hondo (worship hall) to the path that climbs the sacred mountain, lies the famous “Path of a Thousand Torii” – a tunnel made of sacred gates that has become a familiar, iconic image of Japan: At the start of the path, enormous torii tower twenty and thirty feet high, dwarfing visitors. Inside the path, the gates are placed so close together that the light takes on an orange hue:

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The Dragon Shrine on Japan’s Mt. Inari

One of my favorite aspects of Japan, and Japanese culture, is the constant possibility of discovering something unexpected. If you keep your eyes (and mind) open while traveling in Japan, you will discover a multitude of fascinating things to see, do, eat, and experience, many of which may take you by surprise. While visiting Fushimi Inari Taisha (Shrine) I climbed the path up Mt. Inari, following the pilgrim route to the shrine at the very top of the mountain. Along the way, the “normal path” passes through a variety of stations, sub-shrines and places where visitors can stop to worship or enjoy

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The Cats of Fushimi Inari Shrine

In Japanese culture, cats are frequently seen as “lucky,” (in fact, the popular “waving cat” or maneki-neko is sometimes mistakenly referred to as the “lucky cat”). Their presence at shrines is often considered lucky, too, and it’s common to see a cat or kitten strolling around at quite a few of Japan’s sacred sites. In this, Fushimi Inari Taisha (shrine), located south of Kyoto, is no exception. While climbing Fushimi Inari a couple of years ago, my son encountered an adult cat that appeared from the forest and paused in front of him on the path, considering him for a moment before continuing calmly on its

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Climbing the Lower Slopes of Mount Inari

As the god of rice, merchants, swordsmiths, fertility, foxes, and many other things, Inari Okami’s presence is ubiquitous in Shinto worship. Over ten thousand Japanese shrines have altars dedicated to Inari, but Fushimi Inari Taisha, south of Kyoto, is Japan’s largest and most important Inari shrine. For the last few weeks, I’ve been blogging an extended “visit” to Fushimi Inari, starting at the shrine’s main entrance, proceeding past the main altar, and finally (today) starting the climb up Mount Inari itself. Fushimi Inari is famous for its thousands of bright red torii – gates that traditionally mark the entrance to a Shinto sacred space.  The entrance

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