Summer

Yoimiya-sai and Motomiya-sai at Fushimi Inari Shrine -Mysterious Night Illusion!

Yuzuki

Writer

Fushimi Inari Shrine is one of the most popular destinations for tourists around the world. According to a research by Trip Adviser, it has been the No.1 place of sightseeing in Japan since 2013.
Fushimi Inari Shrine’s tunnels are comprised of over a thousand Torii gates. You will be overwhelmed by the bright scarlet outlook of the gates.
Then, do you know about two special nights in Fushimi Inari Shrine? A special festival named “Yoimiya-sai (宵宮祭)” and “Motomiya-sai (本宮祭)” takes place on the weekend in the beginning of July.
Do not miss it! The Fushimi Inari shrine will show you another face during this event.

 The Background of the Festival

Fushimi Inari is one of the greatest shrines in Japan. The origin is not clear, but it is said that the shrine had already existed in 711.
Since this shrine holds an enormous power, people and even the emperors were feared and worshiped hardly. In the Edo period (1600-1867) in the shrine earned a reputation to bring success to business, and merchants visited this sacred place one after another.
Moreover, a new custom was born. Some people commute to this place every day for several weeks and months to make their big dream true. On the last day of praying, they make a pilgrimage to a vermilion tori, a sacred gate, especially for the God. Eventually, it became today’s Senbon Torii – the symbol of Fushimi Inari.

The purpose of Motomiya-sai is to worship Kami (God in Japanese) and thank god for every day with protection. Next, there is an eve – Yoimiya-sai, to celebrate God’s return to Fushimi Inari. During this festival, the shrine will be illuminated by many Japanese traditional lanterns made of paper or stone. Somehow, the vivid red makes us feel sacredness and spirituality of the place and of the evening.
Around the worship hall, you can find about 400 box type lanterns. They are painted by Japanese painters living near Kyoto, so it looks like an outdoor art museum.

Schedule

This festival lasts for two days on weekend.
On the first day, it starts at 5:00 pm with Yosakoi Soran Dance. Originally, Yosakoi and Soran are quite different. Yosakoi is a folk dance from Kochi prefecture. People dance dramatically beating a clapper made of wood. Soran is a traditional dance of fishermen from Hokkaido. The choreography is based on the actual movements when fishing: pulling a thick rope, throwing a heavy barrel, and lowing a boat with other men. You will become a captive of this unique dance.
At 7:00 pm, you can see another traditional dance named Motomiya Dance. This one is performed for the Kami, but everyone can join the circle.
On the second day, the timetable is almost the same, but from 7:00 pm you can enjoy a performance of Wadaiko (Japanese drums) instead of Yosakoi Soran dance. It is also popular among foreigners. The powerful sounds echoe in the body which makes you feel the spirit of Japan.

A Fox and Fushimi Inari

When arriving at Fushimi Inari, you will definitely notice the fact that it is filled with fox motifs. In Japanese religion, foxes are thought as envoys of Kami in Fushimi Inari. Their white color means they aren’t ordinary foxes.
In Japanese shrines, people write down their wishes on small wooden boards – “ema.” Normally ema has pentagon shape, but in case of Fushimi Inari, it has fox’s face shape! You can decorate their faces freely, so please enjoy drawing your personal fox face. In front of the main shrine, there are so many different faces.

Dress up to Enjoy the Festival More

In Fushimi Inari, a fox face mask is the must-buy item. On the road with thousand torii, there are a lot of boys and girls walking with fox masks. There are many souvenir shops on the street from the station to Fushimi Inari shrine so you can find one easily. The price is about ¥1500~2000.
Another item is yukata, a summer type of kimono. It is made of cotton. In summer, Japanese people wear yukata for various events such as traditional festivals like this and fireworks displays. Near Fushimi Inari and other big sightseeing spots, there are many yukata rental shops. Thus, you can enjoy yukatas of various colors and patterns.

Let’s Walk Around Fushimi Area!

Fushimi area is very famous for Japanese sake. From the Edo period, there have been famous sake breweries.
Japanese sake is made of fermented rice. As well as wine, there are a lot of flavors; some taste fruity, while others are very dry. Moreover, the taste of sake reflects even a small climate change, which makes the world of sake even deeper.
At some of the breweries, you can go inside, learn how to make sake, and you can also taste some types of sake.

One of the famous sake companies is Gekkeikan. It is about 30 minutes away by Keihan railway from Fushimi Inari.
Inside this brewery, there is a sake museum. You can learn the long process of making sake through panels and machines. After that, you can taste 2 types of sake and 1 type of plum liqueur.
The brewery is beside a narrow river and traditional boats run along it so you can enjoy the typical Japanese scenery as well.
These days, sake becomes more and more popular among foreigners. Try it and find out what is your favorite!

Details and Access

Dates

Motomiya Festival: The next following the Day of the Ox, from 9 a.m.
Yoimiya Festival: The day before Motomiya Festival, from 6 p.m.
Usually at the beginning of July.

Time:
・Yoimiya-sai: 18:00~22:00
・Motomiya-sai: 9:00~22:00
Place: Fushimi Inari Shrine
Official Website: http://inari.jp/en/rite/
Fee: free
Address: 68 Fukakusa Yabunouchi-cho, Fushimi Ward, Kyoto City, Kyoto Pref.

Access

From JR Nara line:
Get off at Inari station (稲荷駅) and walk 2 minutes
From Keihan Railway:
Get off at Fushimi Inari station (伏見稲荷駅) and walk 5 minutes
From Kyoto City Bus (South 5 line):
Get off at Inari Taisha-mae (稲荷大社前) and walk 7 minutes
By a car:
・20 minutes from Kyoto South (京都南) IC on Meishin Expressway
・10 minutes from Kamitoba (上鳥羽) exit on Hanshin Expressway
※Please refrain from coming by car. The traffic jams are heavy.
※During the event, the official parking will be closed.

Closing Remarks

Fushimi Inari has so many faces: a face of a world-class sightseeing spot, a face showing a stage of Japanese history, and even a paradise for foxes. These factors make Fushimi Inari shrine to become more and more attractive.
Don’t miss the only two nights when you can look at this shrine from another perspective! Fushimi Inari will show you another face.
Please come and see Kyoto at night with your own eyes. The local guides are here to help! If you need any help and would like a local guide to tell you more about Miyako Light event or even more, please check the banner below! Walk around the city with us and discover all the edges of Japanese culture!

Yuzuki

I am a university student in Kyoto, majoring in Japanese art history. I have held international event to learn deep Kyoto together. It’s my pleasure if you read my article and get interested more about our culture.

Written on

Other Events You May Like