The Torii is the traditional gate of Japanese shinto shrines, which marks the border between the outside world and the sanctuary of the shrine.
The Senbon-Torii, which directly translates to Thousand Toriis, is a famous location in Fushimi-Inari-Shrine of Kyoto, with a long path of hundreds of Red Toriis. Though it is not exactly a thousand, there over 800 Toriis there, and is one of the most iconic shrines in Japan.
There is a similar place in Kamakura as well, the Sasuke-Inari-Shrine. Although there aren’t 800 Toriis like Kyoto, this shrine has a similar path with over 100 red Toriis lined up. Like many other shrines in Kamakura, Sasuke-Inari is situated beside a hill and inside a forest, which, added by the Toriis and the stone statues of foxes, give this place an old mystical atmosphere.
Access to Sasuke-Inari
The location of Sasuke-Inari is close to Zeniarai Benzaiten, another famous temple in Kamakura.
The way to Sasuke-Inari from Kamakura station takes about 30 minutes by walk, and you’ll be walking in a normal Japanese neighbourhood for a while before you can get there. There are numerous signs on the way, so it shouldn’t be hard to find, especially with smartphones.
The image above shows a sign that says “Path to Sasuke-Inari”, and the small path next to this sign should take you to the shrine.
The First Shrine and Kannon
The first shrine that appears is a shimosha, a part of Sasuke-Inari shrine. Beside this shrine there is a mini-buddhist temple, with a statue of the eleven faced Kannon (十一面観音像).
This mini-temple is said to guide people together, such as lovers, partners, friends, and others, so if you are having trouble finding someone special, this could be the place to go.
The Path with Over 100 Red Toriis
The sando, which is the Japanese name for the main path to the shrine, has over 100 red Toriis lined up. As there is a forest around, you’ll also hear the sound of trees, birds, and sometimes squirrels, which add to the mystical atmosphere.
Fox God of Shintoism
The countless red flags lined up along the path, all just have the name of the shrine Sasuke-Inari-Shrine （佐助稲荷神社） written on them.
Normally, a shrine would have two statues of the Koma-inu, the guardian dog of the shrine, in front of the shrine itself. However, for the Inari-Shrine, this is different, and they have statues of foxes instead. This is because the Inari-Shrine worships a different kind of god, a fox god.
Up the stairs, finally there is the Sasuke-Inari-Shrine. The small white objects in the image above are all small statues of foxes. There are similar statues everywhere around this shrine.
Behind this shrine there is another staircase, and on the top there is another shrine.
This is also a part of the Sasuke-Inari, the highest shrine in this place. As you can see, there are countless white statues of foxes everywhere, inside and around the shrine, which adds to the mythical and mystical atmosphere.
When you keep walking to the left the shrine above, there is a small path that continues to the top of the hill. It’s quite steep at some points, so visitors should be careful as they walk up. At the top, there is a hiking course in the forest that continues from the Daibutsu to Northern Kamakura.
You’ll be able to hike through the hills and the forest of Kamakura, and can find some shrines and temples on the way. If you like nature, or prefer a little rough path this hiking course is recommended.
In conclusion, the Sasuke-Inari-Shrine is one of the most iconic shrines in Kamakura, with a unique view of countless red Toriis in line. If you visit Kamakura, this is a recommended location to feel the mythical atmosphere of Japan’s religion.