Nestled amidst the bustling cityscape of Kawasaki, the Keihin Fushimi Inari Shrine stands as a beacon of tranquility and spiritual reverence. This hidden gem, inspired by Kyoto’s iconic Fushimi Inari Shrine, offers a unique and serene escape for those seeking a respite from the urban hustle. Join us on a journey to explore the cultural and spiritual wonders of Keihin Fushimi Inari Shrine.

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Origins and Significance

Nestled discreetly in the Shinmaruko neighborhood, just a stone’s throw from the Tokyo border, Keihin Fushimi Inari Shrine emerges as a relatively recent addition to Japan’s spiritual landscape. While inspired by the renowned Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto, this shrine made its debut in 1951. Its first priest, Kanjo Tomizawa, established the shrine after World War II aiming to breathe new life into the community and uplift spirits during the challenging era of postwar reconstruction.

Embarking on a visit, the shrine’s entrance immediately captures attention with its commanding presence—a towering torii gate that stands about 14 meters tall, constructed in 1954. Flanking this monumental gateway are two striking fox statues, one of which might be momentarily obscured by an unsightly road sign.

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A Shrine to Mount Fuji

Ascending the stone staircase into the shrine’s precincts reveals a delightful surprise on the left—a small shrine nestled within a miniature Mount Fuji, complete with lava rocks sourced from the actual Mount Fuji. In adherence to a practice prevalent during the Edo Period (1603-1867), incorporating lava from Mount Fuji into the shrine’s foundation was deemed auspicious. Embracing this tradition, Keihin Fushimi Inari Jinja encircles its main garden with lava sourced from the sacred Mount Fuji, symbolizing a connection to historical beliefs in fortune and prosperity.

To the right lies the main area, featuring the main building, standing out for its distinctive design, featuring a total of 9 subsidiary buildings arranged across three levels—a departure from the conventional architectural norms. The deities enshrined here are believed to bestow blessings of prosperity in business, industry, agriculture, health, traffic safety, artistic pursuits, education, and employment.

keihin fushimi inari shrine october 2023 elleofakind.com

Torii Gate Path

As you enter the main shrine on the right, you’ll be greeted by a mesmerizing path adorned with countless vermilion torii gates. Each gate, donated by individuals and businesses as an offering for good fortune, creates a tunnel-like atmosphere, fostering a sense of spiritual connection.

The defining feature of Kyoto’s Fushimi Inari Taisha is its unending pathway adorned with vibrant red torii gates. In an effort to uphold the authentic ambiance, the Keihin Fushimi Inari Shrine mimics this with an arrangement of around 20 torii gates. While torii gates can vary in color and material, those at Inari shrines consistently boast a vermilion hue, crafted from wood—establishing them as the quintessential representation of the torii concept.

Adjacent to the torii gates stands a statue honoring the shrine’s founder, as well as petite pond artfully crafted to mirror the scenic Lake Biwa. There’s also a designated space where visitors can partake in purification rituals and seek insights into their fortunes.

However, the curiosity deepens as visitors proceed to the back, encountering an unexpected sight—a vibrant world of foxes.

keihin fushimi inari shrine october 2023 elleofakind.com

Surrounded by 108 Foxes

Foxes dominate the landscape—perched on rocks, nestled under them, peeking from behind, and even residing in caves. A green frog manages to join the playful ensemble beside a small pond positioned amidst the rocks.

The significance of these foxes unfolds as they are recognized as messengers of Inari, the god associated with rice and prosperity. A total of 108 fox statues grace the precincts, with some cleverly concealed along the walls of the main building (although this area is off-limits). Traditionally, fox statues are crafted in pairs, featuring both a male and a female counterpart. A keen observer can discern the subtle nuances and match them accordingly, and may also find some foxes with their cubs.

keihin fushimi inari shrine october 2023 elleofakind.com

A testament to craftsmanship, it took approximately a decade for a skilled sculptor to create this fox-filled haven. Originally uniform in color, the statues were later painted in various hues to resist weathering. Each statue is unique, presenting distinct characteristics, and no two are identical. The symbolic count of 108 fox statues within the garden holds significance, mirroring the 108 human temptations in Buddhist teachings that must be overcome to attain nirvana.

Many foxes sport red bibs around their necks, a nod to Japanese folklore’s belief that the color red offers protection from demons and illnesses. Standing atop lava rocks from Mount Fuji, these whimsical creatures add a vibrant touch to the spiritual ambiance.

keihin fushimi inari shrine october 2023 elleofakind.com

Main Hall and Shop

Continuing the journey, visitors ascend the stairs leading to the main hall, where photography is prohibited inside. However, the focal point within is an awe-inspiring shinkyo, a large circular mirror—the largest of its kind in Japan, measuring over 4.5 meters in diameter. The mirror, considered a sacred object in Shinto, symbolizes the connection between the physical world and the spirit realm.

Visitors have the opportunity to collect a beautifully adorned goshuin seal from the Keihin Fushimi Inari Shrine—a tangible keepsake capturing the essence of this unique spiritual retreat.

keihin fushimi inari shrine october 2023 elleofakind.com

Keihin Fushimi Inari Shrine stands as a testament to the enduring spiritual traditions of Japan, inviting locals and travelers alike to experience a moment of tranquility amid the urban landscape. Whether you seek solace, wish to partake in traditional rituals, or simply marvel at the mesmerizing torii gate path, this hidden sanctuary offers a unique glimpse into the rich tapestry of Japanese culture and spirituality. Visit Keihin Fushimi Inari Shrine and let its timeless beauty and serenity leave an indelible mark on your cultural exploration in Kawasaki.