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Fushimi Inari Taisha is the head shrine of Inari, located in Fushimi-ku, Kyoto, Japan. The shrine sits at the base of a mountain also named Inari, and includes trails up the mountain to many smaller shrines.

Because Inari is the god of business, each of the Torii is donated by a Japanese business.

Merchants and manufacturers worship Inari for wealth. Donated torii lining footpaths are part of the scenic view.

This popular shrine is said to have as many as 40,000 sub-shrines (matsuji) throughout Japan.

The shrine became the object of Imperial patronage during the early Heian period. In 965, Emperor Murakami ordered that Imperial messengers were sent to report important events to the guardian kami of Japan. These heihaku were initially presented to 16 shrines including the Inari Shrine.

From 1871 through 1946, Fushimi Inari-taisha was officially designated one of the Kanpei-taisha , meaning that it stood in the first rank of government supported shrines.

The earliest structures were built in 711 on the Inariyama hill in southwestern Kyoto, but the shrine was re-located in 816 on the request of the monk Kūkai. The main shrine structure was built in 1499. At the bottom of the hill are the main gate and the main shrine . Behind them in the middle of the mountain, the inner shrine is reachable by a path lined with thousands of torii. To the top of the mountain are tens of thousands of mounds for private worship.

Foxes (kitsune), regarded as the messengers, are often found in Inari shrines. One attribute is a key (for the rice granary) in their mouths.

Unlike most Shinto shrines, Fushimi Inari Taisha, in keeping with typical Inari shrines, has an open view of the main idol object .

A drawing in Kiyoshi Nozaki's Kitsune: Japan's Fox of Mystery, Romance and Humor in 1786 depicting the shrine says that its two-story entry gate was built by Toyotomi Hideyoshi.

The shrine draws several million worshipers over the Japanese New Year, 2.69 million for 3 days in 2006 reported by the police, the most in western Japan.

The shrine is a three-minute walk from JR Nara Line Inari Station, 10 minutes from Kyoto Station. It is a five-minute walk from Keihan Electric RailwayMain Line Fushimi-Inari station.

October 2009

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