The Chiyobo Inari Shrine 千代保稲荷神社
In Kaizu, Gifu prefecture, the Chiyobo Inari Jinja, founded more than 1,000 years ago, is a small Shinto shrine dedicated to worshiping the Inari deity.
A millennial history
Shortly after the birth of his sixth son, Minamoto no Yoshiie (1039-1106), a legendary brave military commander of the Minamoto clan, had a shrine built to honor and preserve the integrity of the spirits of his ancestors. Thus was born the Chiyobo Inari jinja. Between 1469 and 1486, his descendant, Mori Hakkai, dedicated the place to Inari, the deity of harvests and fertility. Of modest size, the sanctuary has nevertheless acquired a solid reputation over the centuries. The locals, nicknamed "ochobo-san," attracts many devotees who hope to find success in their professional affairs there.
See also: The Inari deity.
The Offering to Inari
Initially, one came to the Chiyobi Inari shrine to pray to Inari to ensure a good harvest. Today, visitors from all over the prefecture are asking for the prosperity of their business. To do this, the faithful place an exceptional offering at the feet of the kitsune, the messenger foxes of Inari: fried tofu! The abura-age latter is thinly sliced tofu and fried in two stages in frying baths at different temperatures. The tofu then takes on a supple and very resistant texture, making it possible to make inarizushi (pocket of fried tofu stuffed with rice and various ingredients).
A delicious treat
But why do we offer abura-age to the fox, the symbolic animal of Inari? According to Japanese mythology and ancient folklore tales, the fox is fond of the abura-age. The texts tell that initially, the fox liked to eat rodents. We then placed fried rodents in traps as bait to hunt the canine. The Buddhist precepts prohibiting this kind of practice, we came to replace the mouse with fried tofu. From this time, the animal was associated with the abura-age.
See also: 5 famous Japanese legends.
I leave you my card?
In one of the many shops located opposite the sanctuary, you will find everything you need for this unique offering. The candle and fried tofu set are sold for 50 yen. In the hope of seeing your business or craft activity prosper, don't forget to slip your business card near the small altar after placing your offering, especially when you know the importance of business cards or meishi in Japan!
Full of flavors
On the last night of each month, the shrine holds its monthly festival, which attracts enormous crowds until the early hours of the day. It must be said that the promise of meeting success in one's business by coming to pray Inari is enticing! As you walk towards the sanctuary, you will not escape the delicious scents escaping from the stalls of the restaurants and shops around. There are no less than 150 stores on Monzenmachi Street, which leads to Chiyobo Inari jinja.
To go further: Pray Japanese style.
Do not hesitate to extend the visit by tasting one of the local specialties offered at unbeatable prices: kushikatsu (breaded pork chop on a skewer), dote-meshi (pork offal or beef boiled in miso ), eel, and freshwater fish. All you have to do is choose and queue!
Address, timetable & access
TimetableAt Meitetsu Shin-Hashima subway station, take the bus and get off at the Chiyobo Inari jinja stop.
AccessOpen every day.