Thursday, June 28, 2012

Arigato, Japonia! 29. Fushimi Inari / Arigato, Japan! 29. Fushimi Inari

The first structure of this shrine has been erected in 711 in the South-West of Kyoto, but has been relocated to the actual place in 815. During the Heian era, the shrine entered under imperial authority. 

It is a place or worship visited especially on the New Year, when millions of Japanese come here to bring gifts to Inari. This is the deity of rice but also of sake and business. The fox, kitsune, is the emissar of Inari. Kitsune likes fried tofu, it is said, so many shops around deal in this matter. Stories and legends tell us that kitsune has magical powers and he/she can turn into a human. Sometime, she is mischievious and brings madness to the humans. She carries in her mouth a key (of a granary presumable0 or a scroll. They come in pairs to guard the shrines. Kitsune may have to 9 tails, the more, the more powerful she is. When she gets old, her fur became white or golden. Very nice stories...

My host in Kyoto  was puzzled by the great number of foreign tourists going there. "There are many places more interesting, he said". "Yes, but the great number of photos and texts on internet, on forums and blogs, lure them there", I said. So, I went too, in the day I spent with Kumiko in Southern Kyoto. She guided me there, and then she returned to Yoshino, as it was already late.

We entered on the shrine territory on a little street with restaurants and souvenir shops, then we parted. I wandered a little around the main shrine and the little ones. This is the principal shrine of Inari in Japan, and there are 32000 sub-shrines in all Japan.

Then, I walked the alley to the long row of tori (aprox. 4 km). It is not known the exact number of tori, every site I read offers another one. But you need more than 2 hours if you want to do the whole circuit. The gates are donated by individuals or companies, and their name is inscriptioned on the gate. It looks really impressive.

The sun was about to go down, and it was a while since I met the last people. It was too late to venture alone in the forest, so I went back to take some more photos. Then, choosing the main alley this time, I went down to the railway station and back to Kyoto, finishing another wonderful day.

Cand am spus gazdei mele ca vreau sa vizitez Fushimi Inari s-a aratat mirat: "Nu stiu de ce atata lume se duce la Fushimi Inari, cand sunt multe alte locuri mai interesante?!" I-am spus ca, cel putin in ceea ce ii priveste pe turistii straini, cred ca acestia sunt influentati de promovarea excesiva care se face pe bloguri si forumuri acestui obiectiv. Fotografiile sunt spectaculoase si toti vor sa vada multimea de tori (porti specifice altarelor shinto).

Am ajuns acolo cu trenul, venind de la Uji, unde vizitasem un templu aflat sub protectie UNESCO. Era deja tarziu, asa ca m-am despartit de Kumiko, cu care impartisem acea zi minunata petrecuta la sud de Kyoto. Ea s-a intors la Yoshino, iar eu am incercat sa vad cate ceva in acest loc devenit atat de popular.

Primele structuri ale altarului au fost construite in sud-vestul orasului Kyoto, in 711, dar in 816 ele au fost relocate la locul actual. In perioada Heian, altarul a intrat sub patronajul familiei imperiale.

Aici, credinciosii se inchina lui Inari, zeitate cu forma feminina dar si masculina, responsabila cu recoltele de orez dar si de productia de sake, iar, prin extensie, de afaceri in general. Mesagerul sau este vulpea, kitsune, impodobita cu un servet ritual rosu si tinand in gura un pergament sau o cheie, presupusa a fi a unui granar. Inari este unul dintre kami (spirit) cel mai raspandit in Japonia, lucru lesne de inteles. Acesta este locul principal unde este adorat Inari, dar se spune ca exista cca. 32000 de sub-altare Inari in tara. Cu ocazia Anului Nou, in 1-2 ianuarie, cateva milioane de credinciosi vin sa se roage aici pentru prosperitatea familiei lor. Cu aceasta ocazie, kitsune primeste ofrande de hrana, orez dar si sake. Se crede ca ei ii place cel mai mult tofu prajit si de aceea o multime de mici pravalioare din jur se ocupa de acest lucru. Desi vulpea este mesagerul lui Inari, ea poate fi si un personaj malefic, lucru observat dupa fizionomia sa. Inzestrata cu puteri magice, poate lua infatisare de om. Se crede ca patrunde in corpul omului prin unghii si il innebuneste. Se spune chiar ca omul posedat de kitsune isi schimba fizionomia, semanand cu o vulpe. Multele povesti si legende tesute in jurul acestui poersonaj arata importanta sa intre multimea de kami pe care ii adora shintoistii. Ea traieste pana la 100 de ani si are 9 cozi. Cu cat are mai multe, cu atat este mai inteleapta si puternica. Cand imbatraneste, blana ei devine alba sau aurie, de aceea vulpile din unele reprezentari sunt albe.
 kitsune, mesagera lui Inari

La Fushimi Inari se poate ajunge din Kyoto, cu trenul (140 yen), in 5 minute. Altarul este dedicat zeului orezului si afacerilor. Se poate intra la orice ora, de la rasarit la apus, fara nici o taxa. Ceea ce il face deosebit este multimea celor peste 30000 de porti rosu-portocalii, care se insira prin padure, una langa alta, pe doua directii diferite. Cine vrea sa faca intregul parcurs de cca. 4 km, are nevoie de cateva ore. Fiecare poarta este ridicata de un individ sau companie si are inscriptionat numele donatorului. Ea poate fi mai mare sau mai mica, pretul variind intre 3000-13000$.

La intrarea pe teritoriul altarului, straduta, plina de restaurante si magazine de suveniruri, este strajuita de un tori.
Urmeaza un sir de trepte, care te duc in zona altarului principal, nu fara a trece intai pe la fantana de purificare.
 
Intrarea spre zona altarului principal este strajuita de perechea de kitsune.
 altarul principal
Ma uit putin la altarele mai mici din zona:
apoi ma indrept spre aleea care duce spre nesfarsitul sir de tori. In lateral, printre copaci, se vad portile, apoi sirul imi apare chiar in fata. Este, intr-adevar, o imagine impresionanta. Nu pot sa nu ma gandesc ca fiecare poarta inseamna o speranta.
E prea tarziu ca sa ma mai aventurez singura in padure, mai ales ca trecusem demult de ultimii oameni care coborau, asa ca ma intorc si eu in zona altarului principal, unde mai fac cateva fotografii. Curand, soarele avea sa apuna.
 un altar dedicat succesului la invatattura
 suveniruri
De data asta aleg aleea principala ca sa cobor spre gara. O ultima privire spre masivele tori si gata, s-a incheiat inca o zi la Kyoto.


14 comments:

Gledwood said...

"Interesting" is very much in the eye of the beholder; I'd love to go there!

ana said...

I love Japan! all the pictures are lovely

Joop Zand said...

Lovely shots from that country..... very well done.

Traveling Hawk said...

Welcome to my blog, Gledwood, and thanks for your appreciation!

Traveling Hawk said...

Bienvenido, anna! I will continue my story about Japan, so please come again if you want:)

Traveling Hawk said...

Thank you, Joop! Have a nice summer!

Helma said...

I found your 1st picture quite a bit angry happen, at least the beast looks angry. Later I read that the fox Kitsune is a key in his mouth. that she has magical powers.what do you do much with you on your travels and what do you see many beautiful things Traveling Hawk :-)

Greetings, Helma

Traveling Hawk said...

Thanks, Helma, and beware of Kitsune:)! She can be a bad-bad fox!

Randy said...

Amazing.

Traveling Hawk said...

Thanks for looking, Randy!

J_on_tour@jayzspaze said...

I am fascinated by some of the Japanese structures both in this post and an earlier one that incorporate the colour red into it. It may be significant but it is certainly impressive.

Traveling Hawk said...

Red is important in their culture, being the color for long life and prosperity.

Liliana said...

Ce frumoasă e aleea aceea care curge printre porţi şi al cărui final nu-l poţi bănui :).

Traveling Hawk said...

E un loc special, Liliana, cum n-am mai auzit sa fie in alte parti. Am aflat despre el de pe alte bloguri.