(To start this series on Fushimi Inari Shrine from the beginning, click here.)
Just past the shrine at the end of the Senbon Torii (Path of 1,000 Torii), on the right side of the path that continues toward the summit of Mount Inari (Inariyama), a small, easy-to-overlook sign points visitors toward one of Inariyama’s hidden treasures: Fushimi Kandakara Shrine.
The sign points up an earthen path that leads away uphill into the forest:
After ascending a couple of small hills (go carefully when it rains!) and passing through a peaceful mountain forest:
visitors will see the shrine ahead through the trees:
The entrance to the shrine:
Although located on the slopes of Mount Inari, and thus technically on the grounds of Fushimi Inari Taisha, Fushimi Kandakara Shrine is a separate entity. The bright red torii that characterize Fushimi Inari (and many other Shintō shrines) are largely absent here–large stone torii mark the shrine instead.
Inside, the shrine features many statues of dragons – protector spirits who watch over Japan (and influence the weather):
Dragons also flank the entrance to the shrine’s small worship hall:
Many visitors miss the sign, or decide to stay on the beaten path, and miss the beauty of this lovely, silent shrine (and the old-growth bamboo grove that lies behind it). If you visit Fushimi Inari shrine, step off the route and follow the signs to this lovely, silent shrine in the woods. Like many “roads less traveled by,” the decision to visit is well worthwhile.
(For the next installment of this series on Fushimi Inari Shrine, click here.)