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Daily Archives: 10/05/2018

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This is a segment of a Japanese print by Keisai Masayoshi. The print was made in 1787 and depicts The Golden Pavilion or Kinkakuji (金閣寺) in Kyoto.

Here it is today, captured by the opening and closing of a camera shutter.

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The top two floors are covered in gold leaf. The temple has had several iterations since it was first constructed in the late 14th century as a villa for the Shogun, Ashikaga Yoshimitsu. There have been several destructive fires over time. Today’s building was completed in 1955, replacing the one burned down by a Buddhist monk in 1950.

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At the Fushimi Inari Shrine you can walk up to Mount Inari through the Senbon Torii or ‘thousands of gates’. The sun emerged from behind the clouds this morning making photographs more easy to take, notwithstanding the many many people who were there.

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Inari is one of the most important kami or spirit gods in the Shinto religion. The name means ‘carrying rice’ or ‘rice load’. She seems to take either a male or a female form and oversees a large portfolio that includes general prosperity, rice (which includes sake), tea, fertility and foxes. Foxes or kitsune are the messengers of Inari.

Foxes certainly feature here. Many fox statues are depicted holding symbolic objects such as sheafs of rice or keys. They are adorned with red votive or offering bibs called yodarekake which translates literally as dribble hang.

The small wooden tablets that are available at many temples in Japan are in the shape of fox heads here. You draw a face on the front and write your wish on the back before hanging it. Some also leave offerings of aburaage. According to folklore, real foxes are quite fond of this deep-fried tofu.

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