Fushimi inari Taisha
Located in the Fushimi ward in Kyoto, is the head shrine of Inari, the god of things such as foxes, fertility, and rice. Merchants have traditionally worshiped Inari, so each “torri” or Japanese gate has been donated by a Japanese business. Why the shrine is so popular is because of the thousands of gates lined up in a row, which is called “Senbon Torii”. On the main trail of the Senbon Torri there is said to be 10,000 torii gates. The main shrine lays at the bottom of the mountain and about 32,000 sub shrines are spread throughout the mountain (which takes two hours to walk up). I went twice during my trip to Japan. I brought high heels my first time.. bad choice. Most of the Japanese women wear fashionable clothing no matter where they go, including heels, however I would highly suggest you where something comfortable (fashionable or not).
When Japanese people go to shrines, they go to pray. There are a few ways you can do it, but I have done one way multiple times. When you first go into the Shrine to pray, you pass through the torii gate, which signifies entering the domain of a deity. You then will purify your hands with water (Misogi- cleansing ritual) at the “temizuya” water pavilion. At the pavilion, you use the ladle to scoop water in your right hand to pour over your left hand. Then take the ladle in your left hand to pour it over your left hand. After that, you take the ladle in your left hand and pour water into your mouth to rinse it. Don’t put the ladle directly to your mouth and do not drink the water. Lastly, use the water to rinse the ladle.
After temizuya, you can go over to the alter and pray. Throw a “saisen” coin to offer to the god, then ring the bell to greet the god (if there is a bell). You then bow twice and then clap twice (to express happiness). You can continue leaving your hands together and feel gratitude. Then bow once more.
Towards the end of the shrine is a small village full of shops, vendors, and restaurants. The mountain was absolutely beautiful to walk through. It was a tiring trip to walk that much but all the red gates, statues, and shops were very much worth it!