On the way back from Nijo Castle I stopped in at Fushimi-Inari Taisha, a Shinto shrine just south of Kyoto on the railway line between Kyoto and Nara. It’s very accessible because it’s very close to the railway station.
This is the main gate, the Romon Gate, donated in 1589 by Toyotomi Hideoshi. As you can see, it is two days off the full moon.
Here we see two statues of Inari, guarding the main gate. Inari is a fox and messenger of the god of rice, sake and prosperity. The temple backs up onto the sacred Inari Hill. The inari on the left holds a key in its mouth (symbolically, to the rice granary).
This is the Nai-Haiden or Inner Hall of Worship, just in front of the Honden or Main Shrine, which was built in 1499 (not sure whether the Nai-Haiden has the same date). The shrine as a whole dates back to 711 though it was at a different location until 816. It is the head Inari shrine in Japan, with as many as 40,000 sub-shrines (and with as many as that, most of them must be pretty small).
I arrived close to sunset and the light was fading fast.
There are thousands of vermillion torii gates, snaking through the hillside. All were donated by a person or company (at a fixed price by size, these days) and their name will be on the back somewhere.
As I was walking out of the Romon Gate, I passed some commercial photographers taking pre-wedding shots of a young couple. They were using a flash and a soft box; this is my quick shot as I passed, with available light.
Then I boarded the train and returned to Nara, just in time for a pre-arranged game of Go with Igo, a fifth-dan master. I used to play competition chess at university and I had also played some Go, though not for thirty-five years. Go is a very simple game, over 2,000 years old and yet as complex as chess. Essentially, you play on a board with many intersections and place stones on the intersections in turn. You aim to win territory by surrounding your opponent’s stones and a formation of stones is safe from surrounding if has two “eyes”, or protected holes.
We played three games. Igo gave me at first an eight-stone handicap, then seven. I was improving with each game and got very close in the last. Very stimulating and enjoyable.