I knew I was going to love the Sasuke Inari Shrine from the moment I saw the long tunnel of red lacquer
torii gates leading into the deep, dark woods. But nothing prepared me for the mossy, foxy, wonders that lay beyond!
Once you walk through the gates, no matter what time of day it is (or how sunny), you’ve entered the twilight zone.
Inari shrines are everywhere in Japan – foxes are believed to be the wily messengers of the gods, and not immune to a little bribe to get one’s personal agenda heard by the powers-that-be…
…but I’ve never seen one that was basically an entire hillside turned into a little fox village.
Check out the moss covering this little hamlet. The Sasuke Inari Shrine has been attracting pilgrims for a long, long, time.
There are thousands of fox figures here, left by the likes of you and me!
For as little as ¥1500 for the smallest pair, you can get your own and leave them in the spot of your choosing, along with a wish for your heart’s desire. (Or you can take them home, which is not always allowed at shrines!)
You can make them a home in one of the villages, or put them on the altar of one of the sub-shrines.
These are the ones left by me and my friend Mika!
The Sasuke Inari Shrine is believed to be a “power spot” by shrine aficionados, and you can see by the number of fox figures that’s not exactly a fringe-y opinion.
Tucked down by a corner of the main shrine at the top of the hill is this magical circle of foxen gathered around a little stone pool
If you look carefully, you’ll find foxes peeking out amid the greenery on hollow stumps…
…and perched everywhere
You should visit, don’t you think? The foxes are waiting!
If you’d like to visit the Sasuke Inari Shrine the next time you’re in Tokyo, Kamakura is an easy day trip (just an hour away by train). Directions & maps are on my website, The Tokyo Guide I Wish I’d Had.
Note: The best time of year to go is during and after the rainy season. From June-September, the moss is lush and green, but if it hasn’t rained in a while, it can be a little brown and disappointing.
And just for fun, here are the
eleven strangest shrines in Tokyo, with all the inside scoop on the resident gods’ superpowers
Don’t miss The Last Tea Bowl Thief!
“Patrick’s keen eye for the telling detail reveals her great love for and knowledge of Japan. A great read!” —Liza Dalby, author of
Geisha and The Tale of Murasaki
In modern-day Tokyo, Robin Swann’s life has sputtered to a stop. She’s stuck in a dead-end job testing antiquities for an auction house, but her true love is poetry, not… read more
Jonelle Patrick writes novels set in Japan, produces the monthly newsletter Japanagram, and blogs at Only In Japan and The Tokyo Guide I Wish I’d Had
Writing mystery books set in Tokyo is mostly what I do, but I also blog about the odd stuff I see every day in Japan. I'm a graduate of Stanford University and the Sendagaya Japanese Institute in Tokyo, and a member of the International Thriller Writers, the Mystery Writers of America, and Sisters In Crime. When I'm not in Tokyo, I live in San Francisco. I also host a travel site called The Tokyo Guide I Wish I'd Had, so if you're headed to Japan and want to check out the places I take my friends when they're in town, take a look!