a-z archive: t! challenge (torii gates)
Tuesday, May 15: I couldn’t resist another entry for FrizzText’s T challenge for this week. Looking through my Japan pictures for the Randen Railway line (see my previous post), I found quite by accident the infinite torii gates at Fushimi-inari-taisha Shrine in Kyoto.
Fushimi-inari-taisha Shrine was dedicated to the gods of rice and sake in the 8th century. As agriculture’s importance declined, deities were assigned to ensure prosperity in business. This is one of Japan’s most popular shrines, with these seemingly endless arcades of vermillion torii (shrine gates). The entire complex consists of 5 shrines and stretches over the wooded slopes of Inari-san.
I approach the shrine and walk around the complex. The torii gates aren’t evident at first. Up some stairs, I finally come across the first tunnel of gates and stroll through the beams of sunlight cutting through the spaces. I take the 4km pathway up the mountain and it is lined with hundreds of red torii and stone foxes. The fox is believed to be the messenger of Inari, the god of cereals. Often a fox holds a key in its mouth that represents the key to the rice granary.
I keep walking and walking, expecting to eventually come to the end of these tunnels of torii. As I have a time constraint, I cannot see it through to the end. I walk quite far up, but as I emerge from each tunnel of gates, I turn a corner only to find another tunnel stretching before me. I do this too many times to count and I keep looking at my watch to make sure I will have time to get back down the mountain and back on the train to City Hall. I go through a tunnel and think, surely this must be the end! And lo and behold, there is another. To me, it seems these torii are certainly infinite.