Motonosumi Inari-jinja Shrine 元乃隅稲成神社

Motonosumi Inari Shrine
Motonosumi Inari Shrine

Atmospheric shrine perched on a clifftop

Established in 1955, reportedly at the behest of a white fox spirit, Motonosumi Inari-jinja Shrine and its many red torii gates have become one of the most well-known locations in Yamaguchi . A spiritual center that's a lot of fun to visit, Motonosumi Inari-jinja Shrine is a must-see attraction.

Don't Miss

  • Watch the Ryugu no Shiofuki sea spray spout
  • Throw a coin in the unusually placed offering box
  • Look out for the small stone fox statues

How to Get There

Located in the northwest part of Yamaguchi Prefecture and away from major towns, this spot is a little off the beaten track. A taxi or rent-a-car is your best bet.

Buses or trains do not run to the shrine, so it's best to drive to Motonosumi Inari-jinja Shrine or take a taxi. The shrine is 20 minutes from Nagato-Furuichi Station or 40 minutes from Nagato-shi Station by taxi.

Ryugu no Shiofuki

Facing the Sea of Japan, the wind on the cliff tops is often strong and bracing. Take time to observe the Ryugu no Shiofuki, a natural spout of white sea spray produced by the particular rock formation of the cliffs as the waves dash against them.

The trail of 123 torii gates is an impressive sight

Striking wooden torii gates lead up to the shrine

One of the most beautiful places in Japan

Chosen as number three in CNN Travel's list of "Japan's 34 Most Beautiful Places," Motonosumi Inari-jinja Shrine deserves its reputation.

You will want to walk slowly through the tunnel of 123 vermillion torii gates up to the small shrine. The gates have a somewhat hand-made look to them, and on a sunny day their color stands in striking contrast to the softness of the surrounding landscape.

The divine white fox spirit welcomes you

Aim high

One of the most enjoyable aspects of visiting this shrine is the hilarity that ensues when you reach the largest torii gate.

Offering boxes are normally placed in easy to access locations near the main shrine building. But not here.

The offering box is hung at the very top of the torii gate, presenting a challenge for visitors and worshipers alike. See how many throws it takes you to get your coin into the box.

This difficulty serves a purpose. It is said that if you are able to make the offering by getting your coin in the box, then your wish will come true.

White fox spirits and Yamaguchi Prefecture

A common subject of Japanese legend, white foxes are semi-magical spirits, with the ability to change into human form. Here, they are revered for their wisdom, benevolence, and are usually associated with protection rather than trickery. The fox is the messenger of the Inari deity enshrined here, and white is used to mean invisible.

Another famous spot to visit in Yamaguchi associated with a white fox spirit is Yuda Onsen, a hot spring area in Yamaguchi City .

You can walk around the Motonosumi Inari-jinja Shrine, take in the sights, and take your fill of photos in an hour or so. But you can also combine this with a visit to the Hagi area, and its bevy of historical sites of international recognition, or Tunoshima Bridge and the island beyond, completing a fantastic day tour.

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