| Megan Mai
Exploring Toyokawa Inari: Home to a Thousand Foxes
Approximately one and a half hours away from Aichi's bustling capital city, Nagoya, Toyokawa Inari (the Temple of the Fox Gods) is a stunningly serene temple located in the city of Toyokawa in eastern Aichi Prefecture, Japan. Toyokawa Inari is both a spiritual Buddhist temple and a grand Shinto Shrine. It is one of Japan’s Three Inari Temples known for its peaceful atmosphere and home to an abundance of striking fox statues scattered around the temple grounds. A trip to Toyokawa Inari will leave you feeling enlightened and renewed as you are completely immersed in tranquil Japanese nature, history and sacred temples.
About Toyokawa Inari
Toyokawa Inari is dedicated to the Inari Okami, the god(dess) of fertility, agriculture, food and rice. Visitors will often pray to Inari Okami to bring in a bountiful harvest, good fortune and prosperity in business.
Walking through Toyokawa Inari, you will be able to witness the spectacular presence of the grand main hall and enter the Garden of Myogonji, a lush Japanese garden, perfectly manicured to encapsulate the serenity and peace that encompasses Toyokawa Inari. This is the perfect location to enjoy the quiet and take a glimpse at the calming koi pond nearby.
Through the garden, following the footpath lined with religious red and white flags, the first of many kitsune statues guard the entrance to Reiko-Zuka, the Hill of Foxes. Kitsune (the fox) is considered to be Inari Okami’s sacred messenger and guardian. Offerings such as rice or sake are left in front of the kitsune statues to bring good fortunes and blessings for the year. Each statue has its own distinctive feature and over a thousand foxes can be found throughout the grounds of Toyokawa Inari.
As you enter the Hill of Foxes, you will be greeted with hundreds of fox statues dressed in vivid red bibs, each varying in different sizes and positioned to protect the shrine. The red colour of the bib symbolises protection against demons and diseases, according to Japanese folklore, and it is the kitsune’s role to ward off illness from being brought to Inari Okami.
After marvelling at the sheer abundance of foxes, be sure to take a leisurely stroll and explore the surrounding area of the temple grounds. Other historic buildings such as the meditation hall, Mando, built in 1863 and the Kageunmon Gate built in 1858, provide an opportunity to admire the skillful intricate craft and detailing in the woodwork that was used to construct the temple. Once you have witnessed the spectacular wooden architecture around Toyokawa Inari, it is impossible not to appreciate the commitment and dedication undertaken to preserve this important pillar of Japanese tradition, history and culture.
Souvenirs and Local Delicacies
Little souvenirs can be purchased as a memento of your visit to Toyokawa Inari. Miniature fox figurines are sold at a small stand around the sacred pavilion Okunoin, for 300 yen. The foxes come in a variety of colours and can act as your own messenger to Inari Okami.
A popular local delicacy you must try around the area is called Inarizushi. It is a small delicious snack made out of vinegared rice that is encased in deep-fried tofu skin (abura-age). Inarizushi has a sweet umami flavour and the encasing, abura-age, is believed to be the favourite food of the divine fox.
In addition to being a serene Buddhist temple and Shinto shrine, Toyokawa Inari is a regular host to festivals all year round in order to foster community engagement and social gatherings, including the anticipated and vivid illumination night event, Yoru Mo-de.
Yoru Mo-de is a summer festival that will be held on Friday, July 21 - Saturday, August 4 2023 and Friday, August 18 - Wednesday, August 30 2023 from 7 pm-10 pm. The event showcases Toyokawa Inari in an immersive illumination experience with light projections and soundscapes to enhance your visit. During Yoru Mo-de, the temple will be lit up in hues of blue, red and purple and decorated with glowing paper lanterns. Visitors often dress in traditional Japanese attire, Kimonos and Yukatas, wearing kitsune face masks to embrace the festivities. The lanterns and fox masks will be available to purchase at the event and will be an exciting opportunity to see live performances, vibrant processions and dances at Toyokawa Inari.
Please note, this event is subject to weather conditions, be sure to check Yoru Mo-de’s event webpage for further details.
Getting to Toyokawa Inari
Toyokawa Inari is accessible by train. To get to Toyokawa Inari from Nagoya station, take the Meitetsu Nagoya Mainline to Toyokawa-Inari Station (approximately 1hr 20 mins). Toyokawa Inari is about a 6 min walk from Toyokawa-Inari Station. A one-way trip will cost ¥1,140.
Entrance to Toyokawa Inari is free and is open from 5 am to 6 pm.
Toyokawa Inari has everything you need for a calm and tranquil day at a culturally significant Japanese Buddhist temple and Shinto shrine. A perfect day trip from Aichi’s city centre, the temple attracts visitors from all over the world and is the home to uniquely distinctive fox statues surrounded by lush greenery. The mesmerising wooden architecture and significant history provide foundational insight into Japanese tradition and culture that will leave a lasting impression.