Vivid Vermillion and 108 Foxes: Keihin Fushimi Inari Jinja Shrine (Kanagawa Travel)
Quiet Shrine in a Residential Neighborhood
Walking along a residential neighborhood of Kawasaki in Kanagawa Prefecture, there suddenly appears the vermillion torii gate. On the sides of this entrance to the shrine, statues of foxes stand in the place where guardian dog statues generally stand. This indicates that this is a shrine that worships the Inari. Once inside, amidst the quiet air, there is an atmosphere that makes you straighten your back and correct your posture.
This shrine is called the Keihin Fushimi Inari Jinja. It was built in 1951, during troubled times after the war in order to bring back livelihood to the area. It is a relatively new shrine.
Worship of Inari
Inari worship is centered on the god of Inari or the Ukanomitama God. It is a belief system that has continued from long ago. The word inari comes from “ine ga naru (rice will grow)” and it is strongly characterized to be a god of fertility for grains and food. Currently it is worshipped as a god of flourishing business as well.
In Japan, the idea of Inari being synonymous with foxes is commonly acknowledged. This is a result of the fox, which was originally believed to be a servant of the Inari god came to be seen equivalent to the Inari god itself. There are actually quite a number of shrines throughout Japan that enshrine the Inari. There are almost 3,000 shrines that enshrine the Inari as their main god and Keihin Fushimi Inari is one of them. If we count shrines that worship the Inari not as a main god but in conjunction with other gods as well as shrines that worship the Inari in a smaller section within the site of the main shrine, there are almost 32,000 shrines in total.
The Atmosphere Inside the Shrine Site
Within the shrine grounds, there are quite a number of fox statues and it is said that there are a total of 108. In fact, 108 is the number of earthly desires of humans in the Buddhist religion.
Colors vary from the standard yellow to those with greenish shades. They are extremely varied in the poses such as those that are standing, sitting looking directly at you, hiding in a burrow, a larger and a small one leaning toward one another as a mother and child and those that look as if they are about to drink some water.
According to a method that was popular in the Edo Period (1603-1867) it was considered good luck to use the lava from Mount Fuji to make the foundation of the shrine. Due to this belief, Keihin Fushimi Inari Jinja uses lava from Mount Fuji to surround the main temple.
This is another mound made from the lava of Mount Fuji. It stands out as it is colored very vividly, which is rare for an element that is used within a shrine.
This pond that was made to replicate Biwako (Lake Biwa) is called Shofuku Ike (literally translates to ‘inviting good luck’).
Within the site there are many small shrines each having efficacy for different things.
For example the center back shrine in the picture is said to fulfill various wishes related to learning, such as educational study and music. The shrine in the right side of the picture is a shrine for the white fox, a servant of the god, and so it is worshipped with increased importance.
5 minutes on foot from JR Musashi Kosugi Station or 2 minutes on foot from Tokyu Shin Maruko Station.
It is located in an easily accessible place so it can be a casual visit for anyone who may be interested.