“Inari: Shinto kami [god] of cereals, then of foundries and trade, as well as guardian of houses (yashikigami). Its traditional messenger is was the fox (kitsune), which came to be confused with the kami itself … A great number of shrines were built in honor Inari, whose cult, created by the immigrant Korean Hata family, went back to 711 CE.
“‘Inari’ was likely a condensed form of the word manari, meaning ‘growing rice.’ It was probably originally a kami of the fields and became a titular divinity of the Hata clan, which settled in Fushimi, near Kyoto.”
– Japan Encyclopedia, by Louis Frédéric, 1996
From the wiki: “Fushimi Inari Taisha is the head shrine of Inari, located near Kyoto, Japan. The shrine sits at the base of a Inari-yama, a mountain 233-metres above sea level, and includes trails up the mountain to many smaller shrines spanning some 4 kilometers. Since Japan’s earliest beginnings, Inari was seen as the patron of business. Merchants and manufacturers have traditionally worshipped Inari. Each of the torii at Fushimi Inari Taisha is donated by a Japanese business. First and foremost, though, Inari is the god of rice.
“The first shrine built on the site was constructed in 711 CE. The present-day main shrine structure was built in 1499. At the bottom of the mountain are the main gate (rōmon) and the main shrine (go-honden). Behind them, the inner shrine (okumiya) is reachable along a path lined with thousands of torii. Each of the torii at Fushimi Inari Taisha is donated by a Japanese business. Unlike most Shinto shrines, Inari Fushimi, in keeping with typical Inari shrines, has an open view of the main idol object (a mirror). Foxes (kitsune), regarded as the messengers, are often found in Inari shrines. A common attribute is a key (for the rice granary) in their mouths.
“The shrine draws several million worshipers over the Japanese New Year – 2.69 million for 3 days in 2006 – the most in western Japan. Inari Fushimi is said to have as many as 32,000 sub-shrines (bunsha) throughout Japan.”