Fushimi Inari Taisha (shrine) in Fushimi-ku, just south of Kyoto, is one of my favorite places in Japan.
|Main Gate, Fushimi Inari Shrine|
I love the shrine, and its sacred mountain, enough that I took a day out of my scheduled research trip last autumn to visit and re-climb Mount Inari.
As usual, the mountain did not disappoint. Also as usual, I noticed many new and different things this time around.
For example, the Inari fox that watches over the entrance:
|Foxes (the magical ones are known as kitsune) are Inari's messengers.|
And the shrine cat (a kitsune in disguise?) who greeted me near the start of the climb:
|Waiting for attention. Cats are pretty much cats wherever you go.|
|Another pilgrim, ahead of me on the trail.|
I love the way ancient consistency and constant change intersect on Mount Inari. The shrine and its mountain are simultaneously unchanged and completely different every time.
|Visitors inscribe prayers or wishes on the small red torii, which are left as offerings.|
|A subshrine on Mount Inari.|
I also paused for a plate of inarizushi at my favorite little restaurant, about halfway up the mountain, which also offers striking views of Kyoto:
|How's that for a lunchtime view? (OK, it was brunch, but who's counting?)|
On the way down, the morning mist burned off and the sun appeared, changing the mountain yet again.
|Sunshine at the bottom of the mountain.|
Since I visited on November 1, the trees in Kyoto had just begun to show the first hints of autumn.
|Kitsune guardian with foliage.|
(I was a little early for full foliage in this part of Japan, but I'd timed my trip for the foliage farther north, in the mountains, where it was spectacular.)
As I left, I wandered down the secondary approach to the shrine, where vendors line the road selling an amazing (and delicious) variety of treats.
|Vendor street at the base of Fushimi Inari Shrine.|
Most of the vendors don't allow photographs when the shops are open (I took the photo above when I arrived, knowing I wouldn't be able to photograph the area later on) but there's no ban on capturing the treats you buy.
|Spiral potato with flavored salt. (The vendor lets you choose from over a dozen varieties.)|
I only wish I hadn't been too full of inarizushi to eat any more.
|Me, after too much inarizushi and fried potato.|