10 December, 2008

Foxes in the Oji Inari shrine / Oji, Kita ward

Please allow me to post the photos taken in this September.

Near the Asukayama park (posted in 06/Sep/08), there is an old and famous shrine called Oji Inari. One morning, Lee and I went there to see the location of the famous Rakugo story "Oji no Kitsune (the fox in Oji)".

Foxes had long been described as mischievous creatures in old fairy tales. In the Rakugo "Oji no Kitsune", the trick matches between the fox who lived in the shrine and the man who visited the shrine was described comically.

There were many statues of foxes. Foxes are guardians of Inari shrine, and also messengers of Inari god.
Ohji Inari is recognized as the top of the Inari shrines in Kanto area.

I found a fox statue having a key.

It's my guess that means this fox (or this shrine) plays a key role in the "Inari industry".

When we were about walking into the backyard of shrine to see the "fox cave", I saw a man appeared at a window of the shrine office.

The man, who seemed to be a shrine priest, gave us a sign of "not permitted" gently as waving his hand slowly. I looked down at Lee and talked to myself "yeah, the combination of fox and dog was not so good, especially from the point of view of fox". I raised my eyes and nodded to the man,,,,, but he had disappeared already.
I am not sure if he had a foxtail.

According to the legend, huge numbers of foxes who serving at Inari shrine all over the Kanto area gather to join the annual meeting held in the shrine yard on new year's eve.

Above is the Ukiyoe drawed by the famous painter Andoh Hirosige. Foxes who intend to join the annual meeting are gathering in front of a big Enoki tree to fix their clothes (fur coat & muffler?) before entering the Oji Inari.
My friend Kaz infiltrated into the fox anual meeting and wrote about it on his weblog several years ago. I was shocked by his scoop photos. Vast numbers of foxes were parading the street. Please check it! (Kaz's weblog)

The closest station of Oji Inari shrine is Oji (JR) .
If you want to join the fox parade in New Year's eve, please visit the official HP (Japanese only).

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