Tatekoshi Shrine located at the top of the hill next to Guzeiji Temple in Natori City, Miyagi Prefecture, is a historic shrine known for housing the guardian god of this area. The enshrined deities are Ukano Mitama no Kami, Omiyahime no Kami and Sarutahiko no Kami.
It is said that Kobodaishi Kukai transferred the deity of Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto to this place and founded this shrine as an attached shrine of the temple when he founded Guzeiji Temple in 811. As the area around the shrine was on the Old Oshu Kaido Road and the Abukuma River, it was called “Tatenokoshi,” which meant “the strategic spot to protect the lord’s residence” from the enemies; hereby the shrine was named Tatekoshi Shrine. In 1867, the shrine was separated from the temple according to the ban of Shinbutsu Shugo (the fusion of Shinto and Buddhism) by the Meiji government.
At the entrance of the shrine is a unique stone lantern erected in 1924. The lantern is supported by four Sumo wrestlers and a fox is placed inside the lantern. The main gate and shrine pavilions were burned down by fires and the present buildings were all constructed in the Showa period.
Koizumi Inari Shrine is in Koizumi-cho, Isesaki City, Gunma Prefecture. The enshrined deities are Ukano Mitama no Mikoto and Onamuchi no Mikoto. According to the shrine record, it was founded during the reign of Emperor Sujin (reigned B.C. 97-30), when Fushimi Inari Daimyojin of Fushimi in Kyoto was transferred to this place by the Imperial order. Large-scale repair works were given to the shrine buildings by the lord of the province Hisanaga Genbei in 1600.
The shrine is characterized by its torii gates. More than 200 torii gates that were dedicated by worshippers are erected in front of Haiden (the oratory) in three lines, continuing as long as 100 m. Together with the O-torii Gate, 22.17 m in height and the largest in the prefecture, the torii gates create a fantastic landscape.
Believed to have the power to bring business success, the shrine is visited by a lot of worshippers not only on New Year’s Day but also on the 1st and the 15th day of each month.
Fushimi Inari Taisha is the headquarters of all the Inari shrines dedicated to the Inari deity. It is located in Fushimi-ku, Kyoto.
In 711, the Tai clan, a powerful family living in Fushimi, made a dedication to the Inari deity on an area of flat ground on Mitsuga Peak in Mt Inari; this is the origin of the Fushimi Inari shrine.
In the middle of the Heian period, when people visited it regularly, they were given the 'deity's cedar'. There remains a document saying that Taira Kiyomori came out into the field of the Hogen and Heiji Disturbance with a stick of cedar in the sleeve of his armor.
The Fushimi Inari shrine was almost destroyed in the Onin war in 1468. Although Japan was in social chaos for many years after the war, reconstruction of the shrine began in 1492, and a totally new shrine had been completed by 1499.
Taikodani Inari Shrine is located in Kanoashi district, Shimane Prefecture. Kamei Norisada, the 7th lord of the Tsuwano clan, founded the shrine in 1774. It is said that this shrine is modeled on the Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto. Today, it is counted as one of the five great Inari shrines in Japan. Inari is a god of food, clothing and shelter. Similarly, it draws worshipers who wish for prosperity in trade, success in industry and good fortune at any time of year. The name of the shrine comes from a story that a guardian of a castle lost the key and was told to commit ritual suicide by disembowelment, yet, after continuous worship at the Inari shrine, he found the key on the day of the ritual . After this, the word “success” was added to the shrine’s name. One thousand Shinto gates are lined to form a zigzag tunnel. Kanoshi district also has a lot of lightning strikes in. The shrine appears particularly beautiful when the snow covers the vermilion gate and courtyard.
Yutoku Inari Shrine is located in Kashima City, Saga Pref. It was set up by Hizen-Kashima Province in 1687. It enshrines Ugano-Mitama-no-Ohkami (the guardian deity of fishing, trade, and manufacture), Ohmiyame-no-Ohkami, and Sarutahiko-no-Ohkami. It is one of the three large Inari Shrines along with Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto and Kasama Inari Shrine in Ibaragi Pref. The main hall is all colorfully lacquered structure in Butai-zukuri style (with vast veranda supported by hundreds of pillars). Its base color is vermilion. The magnificent structure reminds us of Kiyomizu Temple in Kyoto. The shrine is called endearingly “Yutoku-san” by the local people and visited by a lot of worshippers all through the year. In the precinct of the shrine is Yutoku Museum, where historical materials concerning Kashima Province and treasures possessed by the shrine are displayed.
Ema are wooden plates on which people write their prayers. Then they are hung up at a shrine as offerings to the gods. Ema usually take a shape of pentagon because the plates used to have roofs on them. Ema have a history going back to the Nara period (710-794), when a picture of a horse was offered to a shrine instead of a real horse. Each shrine uses its unique and traditional Ema. At Fushimi Inari Shrine, for example, the face of a fox is painted on the plate because a fox is considered to be the god’s messenger. On Ema for the wish of preventing eye diseases, a Japanese hiragana letter of “me (meaning an eye in Japanese)” is written. Or the inverted letter of “me” is written on some plates. Those who want to prevent their husbands’ flirtation use Ema with the Kanji meaning “heart” and the picture of the lock and key drawn on them. In the present days people also like to attach miniature Ema to their key chains or cell phones as bringer of good luck.