Kitsune and the gates.

I really felt like I just glanced over the first shrine we went to today and I really think it deserves more. If you’re going to read this looking for some funny pictures or anecdotes you might as well just stop reading here, this was more of a peaceful experience.

We started out knowing that we were looking for “torii gates”, symbolic entrances to hallowed ground. The first one came when we got over the railroad tracks to the south east:

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As we moved closer and closer to the temple the gates got more elaborate and closer together. The main entrance had two statues of Kitsune on either side, one holding a scroll and one holding something i couldn’t quite make out. The temple is called Fushimi Inari.

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As we moved through the temple there were a series of statues and the story of this God was told to me in bits and pieces. Apparently when the crops did well in rural japan small rodents and such posed a great threat to the well being of the nations produce. The fox usually arrived and took care of the small rodent problem so it was seen as a blessing. This feeling of thanks eventually developed into worship. The interesting part to me is that the fox has developed into a deity with two sides, One side brings prosperity and wealth and because of this it is prayed to by people wishing for personal endeavors to go well. The other side is one of mischief, the fox God can turn into people and trick you. According to some of the locals Kitsune can do anything from forcing you into bad money decisions to seducing you into a failed marriage. In this picture Kitsune is depicted holding a key (that bent thing in his mouth) which is meant to represent the key to the grainery that he watched over.

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Now back to the gates. I knew they would get closer together but I had no idea to what extent. They went from being 2 city blocks apart to… well… this:

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It was a truly amazing sight. As we moved through the maze of gates and fox idols we saw a small mountain path and figured it would be as good a path as any to follow. After much climbing, it soon led us to a series of narrow 1×1 foot brick paths along cliff edges in the most beautiful (well only really) bamboo forest I had ever seen.

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In all honesty though, the path went on for long enough and the number of other people we saw dropped off so much (to zero) that I was getting worried. We did find another set of Kitsune shrines:

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Once the forest broke, we ended up out in the street, right in the depths of rural Kyoto. We were spent, time to find some lunch and get a second wind. The whole experience left me feeling fulfilled as I’ve always felt a connection to Kitsune ever since hearing about it several years ago.

Well I just felt that I should say a few more words about this particular shrine since it was just a great experience to be there. I’l be getting back to the usual entertaining posts forth with.

Kampai,

Robbie

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