Of the three major Inari Shrines dedicated to the Fox Gods, Toyokawa Inari is one of the most famous. Believed to bring success, the temple, featuring both Buddhist and Shinto architecture, is properly titled Toyokawa-kaku Myogon-Ji, and. and is better known simply as Toyokawa Inari.
How did it become to be called the Toyokawa Inari?
The main object of worship was the Buddhist goddess, Dakinishinten, who rides a white fox, and she was compared with the native Shinto goddess of agriculture Ukinomatana no Mikoto, who uses a white fox as her messenger, hence the line between the Buddhist and Shinto deities blurred, and the Inari, or fox god legend created.
Another legend goes something like this.
When the Zen priest, Tokai Gieki constructed the temple, he was assisted by an old man called Heihachiro. This Heihachiro had but one iron pot, and yet he was able to boil water, cook rice and prepare a meal for a few hundred workers every day, alone!
When asked how he could achieve such a feat, he answered that was from a house of 301 retainers. Those retainers, he explained, were magical foxes. The iron pot left by Heihachiro is installed in the main prayer hall of the temple, and an annual memorial mass and festival is performed in the memory of the old man and his foxes, which are revered to this day.
The temple’s precincts cover some 1,272 hectares and contain some 90 Buddhist temples and shrines. The Sanmon Gate was constructed by Imagawa Yoshimoto in the mid-1500s and is the oldest remaining structure on the grounds. Over 1,000 effigies of the fox-gods of Inari grace the precincts.
The temple was patronized by many of the daimyo of the Sengoku, or Warring States period including Imagawa Yoshimoto, Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi and protected by the future Shogun, Tokugawa Ieyasu. Business men from across the nation regularly visit the Toyokawa Inari to pray to the Gods of Prosperity for success in business. Does it really work? Who knows, but they do keep on coming.