Toyokawa Inari 1: A Fox-Filled “Power Spot” Well Worth the Trip
Foxes, foxes, and more foxes! Wherever you turn your gaze, your eyes will fall on a vulpine statue in the richly haunting atmosphere of this Aichi temple. Our article today takes a look at the best points of this value-packed destination. Ref: Photo
About Toyokawa Inari
Located in Aichi Prefecture’s Tokoyawa City, the formal name of this temple is Myōgon-ji, and it’s famous all across Japan as a place to pray for fortune and success in business. Dating back six centuries to the completion of its construction in the Muromachi period (1336–1573), the temple counted among its adherents many literary figures as well as great warriors like Oda Nobunaga and Toyotomi Hideyoshi. In the Edo period (1603–1868), faith in the temple spread all the way to the common people of the country.
When you hear the “Inari” part of its common name, you probably think of the world-famous Fushimi Inari Taisha in Kyoto. However, Toyokawa Inari is not a shrine at all but one-hundred percent a Buddhist temple. That being said, the temple has something that a temple rarely does: a full and proper torii gate. From that, you could kind of think of Toyokawa Inari as something akin to a cross between a temple and a shrine (even though it is registered and treated completely as a temple).
For more about the difference between temples and shrines:
Learn for Your Trip to Kyoto: Differences in Etiquette for Shrines and Temples
Highlight #1: Senbon-nobori (The 1,000 Banners)
When going along the path leading up to the inner precincts, you’ll see an incredible lineup of nobori (vertical banners) written with the prayers of visitors to the temple. Together with the temple’s similar name, the scenery is likely to bring to mind the famous torii tunnel found at Kyoto’s Fushimi Inari Taisha. Walk past these streaming banners and you’ll arrive to the crowing highlight of the temple, Reiko-zuka.
Highlight #2: Reiko-zuka (Fox Spirit Mound)
Enshrining over a thousand stone fox statues, this is a power spot reputed to increase your luck with money. That said, just the strange and moving scenery it presents is reason enough to come and visit here, and the temple is a popular destination that brings together almost all the tourists visiting Toyokawa.
In the middle of Reiko-zuka lies a massive boulder, and on closer inspection you’ll see that there are many coins in the gaps and crevices of the boulder; coins which are put there by visitors. There are rumors to the effect that a person who manages to somehow get one of the coins out will in time become rich. However, even if you decide to put the rumor to the test and then actually succeed in getting a coin, it seems what you’re supposed to do is carry the coin around as a charm, then come back and throw in a few times more than what you took.
Highlight #3: O-sasuri Daitokuten
The “O-sasuri” part of the name comes from the belief that rubbing or polishing the Daitokuten here will cause your wish to be granted. In the past, it was said that shaving off a piece of the statue and carrying it with you was good luck, and you can even now see the natural consequence of this belief when you look at the sunken sections on the statue’s stomach and hammer. Nowadays, simply a gentle rub brings luck enough, so don’t go grinding the Daitokuten to dust!
Highlight #4: Sanrō
The phrase “sanrō” refers to an overnight stay at a temple. However, it isn’t like when a monk resides at a temple for aesthetic training. Instead, the feeling is closer to simple accommodation away from the bustle of everyday life in the quiet environs of a temple. It usually costs JPY 8,000+ per night, which includes two meals, and as a general rule there’s no need to reserve in advance. We’d highly recommend trying this spirit-cleansing experience at least once here at Tokoyawa Inari.
Bonus: Japan’s Oldest Post Box
In the temple grounds is the oldest post box in all of Japan. It’s the round Japanese Post model from 1912, and despite its age is still in use even to this day. After taking a look around the temple, be sure to drop in and see a little piece of postal history. Since it’s still active, why not write up a few postcards and participate in over a century of mail? Information: Map
Follow-up article: Toyokawa Inari 2: A Fox-Filled “Power Spot” Well Worth the Trip