Nintendo: The Inari Connection

 

Fushimi’s not just home to 23 sake breweries — it’s also home to Nintendo’s headquarters. Those with a keen eye will spot it on the way up to Fushimi Inari’s Yotsu-tsuji viewpoint; a white cube-like building with square green windows all over and a large NINTENDO logo on the top right corner.

Nintendo’s proximity to the shrine means that the shrine has had much more to do with Nintendo’s creations than you might think.

Star Fox

Avid gamers have also been known to spot Miyamoto Shigeru, creator of Super Mario and Donkey Kong, strolling through Fushimi Inari’s gates, and it’s no wonder; he lives in the neighbourhood.

Miyamoto’s Star Fox, created back in 1993, takes players onto Fox McCloud’s spacecraft through different worlds filled with obstacles they have to overcome as Fox himself. Stage 1 is filled with large gates, as you can see in the video below (skip to the 2-minute mark for the gates).

Gates in the original 1993 Star Fox for the Super NES.

Inari’s fox mascot propelled into the 21st century as Star Fox Zero’s chief protaganist Fox McCloud.

Inari’s fox mascot propelled into the 21st century as Star Fox Zero’s chief protaganist Fox McCloud.

Miyamoto talks about the inspiration behind Star Fox in this interview with former Nintendo President Iwata and also in this video:

 

Miyamoto Shigeru talks about the inspiration behind Star Fox: Fushimi Inari’s holy foxes and torii gates.

 

Pokemon

Miyamoto isn’t the only Nintendo game designer who’s been inspired by the Shinto gods. Satoshi Tajiri, creator of Pokemon, appears to have also received some divine inspiration. Look closely at Vulpix and Ninetails.

Vulpix & Ninetails.

Vulpix & Ninetails.

A messenger of the gods at Fushimi Inari.

A messenger of the gods at Fushimi Inari.

If you’ve played Pokemon Go in Japan, you would have realised that the signposts and main gates to temples and shrines are also where you would find Pokemon spawn sites. All this is more than just coincidence — Pokemon are but thinly-disguised Shinto spirits and gods, so many of them have have backstories that originate in Shinto folklore.

So if you think Fushimi Inari’s 1300-year history puts it firmly in the category of things lost and forgotten, look again. The gods are always reinventing themselves.