• Shimenawa (the rope)and gohei (the zigzag paper strips)
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Darkness falls at Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine in Kyoto.

This is one of the oldest Inari Shrines in Japan. The story of its origins is tied to the legend of a member of the Hata-clan who (it is said) shot an arrow into a piece of "mochi" (pounded rice cake). The arrow was apparently magical, because when it hit, it turned the mochi into a white bird. The white bird then flew off and landed on the peak of a mountain, where rice began to grow in abundance. That mountain was Mt. Inari, where the Fushimi Inari Shrine is located.

In this shot, you can see a shimenawa, which is sacred twists of ricestraw rope with white zigzag paper strips (gohei). In Shinto beliefs, it marks the boundary between the ordinary everyday world and the world of the sacred. They can be found on torii gates, on shrines, as they are here, and many other places that are sacred in Shinto beliefs.

Dr Tao, pkmn_nintendo, Ravendruid, and 2 other people added this photo to their favorites.

  1. Patanne 116 months ago | reply

    Interesting picture and history.

  2. Neshamah Spirit Art 116 months ago | reply

    Wow--I've been to Fushimi Inari shrine several times and never knew the story behind it. I especially like the magical arrow-mochi-bird-mountain of rice part.
    One of my friends' used to have a monthly poetry / moonviewing night in Fushimi-ku. The veranda of his house overlooked a rice field on the edge of Fushimi-Inari shrine. We could see the back part of the shrine glowing in the moonlight and hear the sounds of bull frogs croaking and crickets.

  3. musicmuse_ca 116 months ago | reply

    @Patanne: thanks ! I am glad you enjoyed this.


  4. musicmuse_ca 116 months ago | reply


    You know, as I put these shots up here, it is forcing me to dig into stuff I picked up in Japan but have not really read or looked at. This is just one of the origin stories about this shrine. There are many others, I am sure.

    That poetry reading sounds like it was a blast. I wish I could have spent more time there, exploring the toriis up the mountain.


    Maybe next time I go to Japan....

  5. bijouchatte 116 months ago | reply

    fascinating... thanks for sharing :) One day, I'll get to Japan...

  6. musicmuse_ca 116 months ago | reply

    Thanks bijouchatte! It is well worth the effort. I can't wait to get back myself.


  7. Dr Tao 116 months ago | reply

    Just WOW - indeed!

  8. musicmuse_ca 116 months ago | reply

    @Dr. Tao:

    Thaks so much for adding this to your faves. I am glad you enjoy the shot! :)

  9. aileene [deleted] 116 months ago | reply


  10. musicmuse_ca 116 months ago | reply

    Grazie Marina! :)

  11. musicmuse_ca 116 months ago | reply

    Thanks for the links. Those sites have some great shots. :)

  12. Nemo's great uncle 116 months ago | reply

    注連縄(shimenawa) = "sacred rope"
    御幣(gohei) = "zigzag paper strips"

  13. musicmuse_ca 116 months ago | reply

    @Nemo's great uncle: Your contributions are great and much appreciated by me. thanks! :)

  14. KoreanCyberdude 50 months ago | reply

    Korean Hata Clan.

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