One of japan‘s “big three” Inari shrines, Toyokawa Inari, is actually a Buddhist temple. This picturesque religious site is located in Toyokawa-cho, Toyokawa-shi, Aichi-ken. With its stunning architecture and rich history, Toyokawa Inari attracts millions of visitors each year.
Toyokawa Inari Shrine was founded in 1441 by the monk Tokai Gieki. It is a Buddhist temple of the Soto sect, which was created during the period of religious syncretism in Japan. This period spanned from when Buddhism first took hold in the country to the Meiji Restoration.
To reach Toyokawa Inari, you can take the Toyohashi bound train from Meitetsu Nagoya Station. At Ko Station, you will need to change to a train bound for Toyokawa-inari Station. The shrine is just a three-minute walk from the station. The convenient train access makes it easy for visitors to explore this magnificent religious site.
Upon entering Toyokawa Inari, you will be greeted by a massive 4.5-meter-high door made from a single slab of wood. Flanking the entrance are two ferocious Buddhist Nio temple guardians. These guardians symbolize the protection and guidance offered by the temple.
Inside the shrine, you can offer prayers to your faith of choice or simply admire the impressive structures. One of the highlights of Toyokawa Inari is the Myogen Temple, which houses the effigy of the Thousand-Handed Senju Kannon. This sight is often missed by many of the shrine’s six million annual visitors. Exploring the temple and its intricate details is a mesmerizing experience.
As you make your way through the shrine, you will come across the sacred copse and the Okuno-in pavilion. Behind the pavilion, there are winding paths lined with flags that have been flown as votive offerings. One of the most unique features of Toyokawa Inari is the Reiko-Zuka, a hillside covered in red-bibbed stone fox messengers. These foxes, dressed in bright red bibs, are believed to be the messengers of the shrine.
The area surrounding the shrine’s entrance is filled with a wide range of restaurants and souvenir shops. Here, you can sample local treats such as the Inari zushi. These sweet pouches of fried tofu filled with sushi rice are believed to be a favorite of Toyokawa Inari’s stone foxes. Exploring the shops and tasting the local cuisine adds another layer to the overall experience of visiting Toyokawa Inari.
In addition to its historical and cultural significance, Toyokawa Inari offers a serene and peaceful atmosphere. The beautifully landscaped gardens and tranquil surroundings make it an ideal place for meditation and reflection. Visitors can take a moment to escape the hustle and bustle of daily life and find solace in the peaceful ambiance of the shrine.
Toyokawa Inari is not just a place of worship; it is also a symbol of the harmonious coexistence of different religious traditions in Japan. The syncretism of Buddhism and Shintoism is evident in the architecture and practices of the shrine. This unique blend of beliefs and traditions is a testament to the cultural diversity and tolerance found in Japanese society.
Visiting Toyokawa Inari is a journey through history, spirituality, and natural beauty. It is a testament to the rich cultural heritage of Japan and the deep-rooted traditions that continue to be celebrated to this day. Whether you are a religious devotee or simply an admirer of stunning architecture, Toyokawa Inari is a must-visit destination that will leave a lasting impression on your heart and soul.
In conclusion, Toyokawa Inari is a Buddhist temple that stands as one of Japan’s most picturesque religious sites. Its rich history, stunning architecture, and peaceful ambiance make it a popular destination for both locals and tourists. The blend of Buddhism and Shintoism at the shrine showcases the cultural diversity and tolerance found in Japanese society. A visit to Toyokawa Inari is not just a religious experience, but also an opportunity to immerse oneself in the beauty and tranquility of Japan’s spiritual traditions.
Address And Maps Location:
Toyokawa-cho, Toyokawa-shi, Aichi-ken