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January 18 2013

Originally shaped Ema at Fushimi Inari Taisha - via A Japan Photo per Day -

Ema, Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine, Kyoto
At any Shinto shrine, you will see booths selling wooden votive plaques (ema), with various drawings and shapes, often with unique designs made especially for the shrine. Usually, these plaques have the same shape, almost rectangular, but a very few shrines have special designs: at the Fushimi Inari Taisha from Kyoto, the shrine famous for the thousands of torii, you will find ema shaped like… torii gates. Some of the most beautiful ema I have ever seen, they are used like any other votive plaques and the wishes are written on them, as you can see in today’s photo.

October 27 2012

Inari Torii row - via A Japan Photo per Day -

Sanko Inari Shrine, Inuyama

At the entrance to the Shinto shrines you will always see a torii, marking the delimitation between the sacred space of the shrine and the profane world.
At the Inari shrines however, sometimes there are groups of torii, with a different role. These are donations from worshipers, for Inari, the patron of business. Each torii is inscribed with the name of the donor and they are usually placed in rows with small spaces in between, creating a beautiful sight. Some of these rows are huge, with thousands of torii, like at the Fushimi Inari Taisha from Kyoto, but in most cases there are just a few dozens of them - but the view is no less beautiful - like in this photo from the Sanko Inari Shrine from Inuyama.

October 14 2012

Kyoto Fushimi Inari Taisha Kagura-den - via A Japan Photo per Day -

Kagura-den, Fushimi Inari Taisha, Kyoto

Since the old times, the traditional Shinto ceremonies featured sacred dances as offerings for kami. Originally, these dances were performed on temporary platforms raised near the shrine, but during the Heian period, the temporary stages were replaced by permanent constructions called kagura-den ("dance hall").

Today, only the larger and most important shrines have a kagura-den, in the smaller shrines the danced being performed in the main hall of worship (haiden).
Here is one of the most beautiful of them, the kagura-den from the Fushimi Inari Taisha from Kyoto, a pavilion similar to the ones used for Noh plays.

July 25 2012

Kyoto Fushimi Inari Main Gate - via A Japan Photo per Day -

Fushimi Inari Shrine, Kyoto

Best known for Senbon torii, the over 5000 vermillion torii gates, the shrine Fushimi Inari Taisha from Kyoto is also famous for its large number of kitsune (foxes) statues. Messengers of Inari, the kami worshiped here, the kitsune are omnipresent in the shrine, starting right at the entrance, where the spectacular Main Gate (built by the famous Toyotomi Hideyoshi) is flanked by two large kitsune statues. In case you’re wondering, the kitsune from the left holds in his mouth the keys to the granaries, because Inari is the kami of rice.
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