Japan and its history through the cigarette case scenes Inari Shrine in Fushimi, Kyoto

Fushimi Inari Taisha [伏見稲荷大社] is the head shrine of Inari, located in Fushimi-ku, Kyoto, Japan. Since early Japan, Inari was seen as the patron of business, and merchants and manufacturers have traditionally worshipped Inari. Each of the torii at Fushimi Inari Taisha is donated by a Japanese business. First and foremost, though, Inari is the god of rice. This popular shrine is said to have as many as 32,000 sub-shrines ([分社] - bunsha) throughout Japan.

The shrine became the object of imperial patronage during the early Heian period. In 965, Emperor Murakami decreed that messengers carry written accounts of important events to the guardian kami of Japan. These heihaku were initially presented to 16 shrines, including the Inari Shrine.

The earliest structures were built in 711 on the Inariyama hill in southwestern Kyoto, but the shrine was re-located in 816 on the request of the monk Kukai. The main shrine structure was built in 1499. At the bottom of the hill are the main gate (楼門, romon, "tower gate") and the main shrine (御本殿, go-honden). Behind them, in the middle of the mountain, the inner shrine ([奥宮], okumiya) is reachable by a path lined with thousands of torii. To the top of the mountain are tens of thousands of mounds (塚, tsuka) for private worship.

From 1871 through 1946, Fushimi Inari-taisha was officially designated one of the Kanpei-taisha [官幣大社], meaning that it stood in the first rank of government supported shrines.

Top: a postcard depicting the haiden (hall of worship) of the Inari shrine in Fushimi. Bottom: a cigarette case from the S. Komai workshop.