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Peace or Mystery at Fushikura-Daijin Shrine?

Kyoto has an abundance of famous shrines and temples across the city and surrounding areas. But what Kyoto also has in the same abundance are shrines that have been 'forgotten' or just simply not on the radar of the tourists both Japanese and foreign. In an earlier blog post we covered Mount Oiwa and the abandoned Oiwa Shrine (which may, if recent report are correct, actually be getting some much needed repair work). Another shrine that has fallen by the wayside is Fushikura-Daijin Shrine. Admittedly it is a very small shrine but even though it is off the track it is close to well trodden routes.

There are no halls and it only takes a few minutes to walk around. But, most probably due to its abandonment, it seems to hold a sense of mystery that leads a visitor to this almost hidden corner to stay awhile and take in the surroundings. Moss grows over some of the stonework, a waterfall gives a pleasant, almost tranquil atmosphere. Some people say that it has a dark feeling whereas others say they feel peace.

There is very little information available about this shrine and as to why it is in this current state, but it is said that the water of the stream is called ‘Gods Water’ though how this name came about is unknown. A number of Inari Kami can be found at Fushikura-Daijin (pictured below left), could there be a connection to Fushimi Inari Taisha that is not too far away to the south? The Inari fox god represents fertility, rice, tea and sake, agriculture and industry, of general prosperity and worldly success, and is one of the principal kami of Shinto.

Although there is no information to confirm one way or another, it could be thought that the waterfall in the shrine (pictured below right) may well have been used in the past for the Shinto purification practice of Misogi. The fact that the water has been called God’s Water may lend some weight to this idea. The shrine also has some other curious almost ominous parts to the shrine.

Shinto stone lanterns stand by the entrance to a dark tunnel (pictured below left). We’ll leave it to the visitor to decide whether to venture inside and discover what lies hidden in the darkness beyond the entrance.

To the right of the lanterns and the dark entrance are steps that lead up and around the shrine. There are a number of small shrines, torii gates of both wood and stone, some small ones with recent dates, which implies that worshippers do still come to the shrine. There are also signs of fallen tree branch clearance and some debris tidying so it isn’t altogether a shrine that has been totally abandoned.

To reach Fushikura-Daijin Shrine follow steps down from ‘Kyoto Trail’ Higashiyama point 4 marker. At the bottom of the steps we reach ‘Kyoto Trail Higashiyama 5’ marker post. At the trail marker/direction post is a small bridge on the left. Follow the off the track trail about 20- meters to the shrine. HIDDEN PATHS visited Fushikura-Daijin before the current covid situation and we advise that if you visit to please wait until the current restrictions and advisories have been lifted.

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