Fushimi-Inari

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Dotted by torii or the effervescent orange gateways, the Fushimi-Inari is the head shrine of Inari located in Kyoto. Inari, a patron of business, merchants and traders was widely revered by businessmen who donated the torans or gates in patronage. Coloured in black and a bright orange, and framing the way up to the shrine, the gateways make for a heady climb upto the shrine. Foxes were mythologically believed to be messengers to the higher Gods and hence the capitals of all the walkways are crowned by the animal engaged in different activities, sometimes hunting, sometimes eating or sometimes just engaged in a hobby all gaily decorated with the stars.

Located on a mountain that is also called Inari, the shrine sits at the base of the 233m high mountain that also includes a list of smaller shrines all the way up to the summit. While shrines on a mountain top are not a lost phenomenon, the brilliance of Fushimi-Inari and what makes the experience absolutely unmissable are the torii that give one a merry company on the hike up the mountain. As a form of colour therapy, the blast of orange it fills in with exuberance and enthusiasm by the end of the hike up and down. The clear mountain air, or rather simply the clear air of Japan and the spotless environs, the high trees contribute to the stark experience of the shrine. The hawkers and vendors by the dozens outside the shrine are only proof to the popularity of the shrine.

Traditionally the Japanese hardly use colours other that the palates of brown and cream, hardly in contrast, but when they do, they do well. For the average orange lover Fushimi-Inari is a treat to the senses, for others its still a gorgeous spatial experience cause afterall who can resist the beauty of rhythm. Like the scales of a musical instrument in action, the torii take a winding path and as one walks through the very many torii that snake through the to the mountain top the sense of scale rising and falling is strangely therapeutic and the sight of orange is largely invigorating.

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