Fushimi Inari Shrine
The Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto, Japan, is an iconic hotspot for Instagrammers to take photos — and for good reason. It is BEAUTIFUL, especially during Cherry blossom time! Likewise, Japan is an alluring country, and as a big fan of LEGOs, I went on a search for building kits that could do that country justice. The Tokyo LEGO Architecture was surprisingly the only product I could find that was decently good-looking (San Francisco Architecture Skyline is one of my favorites), and further browsing only resulted in Japan-inspired buildings on the fan-inspired Lego IDEAS site.
LEGO Japan Sets
Does LEGO really not have any brick sets of the Fushimi Inari Shrine? Shopping results ended with the NewRice Sakura Tree Inari Shrine that LOOK like LEGOs, but I had never heard of the company before. I was not able to find any information on the brand at the time, but discovered later on that Sembo Block and Qiye appear to be the actual manufacturers. What I also found interesting is that LEGOs were invented in 1961 and, according to Wikipedia, its patent expired in 1978. Patents retain exclusive rights for 20 years in the United States, and after that, anybody can copy them. Several companies were sued by LEGO for duplicating their building brick idea, but the courts had consistently sided with the third parties, citing that the patent was no longer exclusive. LEGO enjoys a huge, cult following and worldwide brand recognition.
Sakura Cherry Blossoms
My wife and I debated for a brief while on whether to give the NewRice Sakura Inari Shrine set a try. It looks STUNNING and has cherry tree blossoms as a backdrop of the iconic shrine. The Sakura (cherry blossom) is a national flower of Japan that signifies hope and renewal, and due to its brief appearance during spring also symbolizes that life is short, yet beautiful. The Japanese can be quite graceful. At $32, we went ahead with the purchase.
What’s Good? What’s Bad?
Right off the bat, I noticed that the NewRice pieces are entirely compatible with LEGOs! They look, feel, and taste (ok, I did not try that) similar to the originals! There were several moments of confusion and frustration, however, with following the visual instructions of building the NewRice set. But with persistence, the end result was a beautiful, Fushimi Inari Shrine-inspired gate set against a backdrop of luscious cherry blossoms. It wowed every, single person we showed it to.
- Beautiful set inspired by the Fushimi Inari Shrine against a backdrop of cherry blossoms
- LED bar to light up the product
- Compatible with LEGOs
- Inexpensively priced
- Visual instruction guide, though it needs clarification in some areas
- Wonderful color design
- Good way to bond with your child or partner
- Solid material reminiscent of actual LEGOs
- Could be relaxing for some to put hundreds of pink flowers onto the white pieces
- Visual instruction guide can be difficult to figure out at times (see photos)
- The very 1st piece to be used is drawn like a square prism, but it actually is not
- Curving steps were a bit confusing at first in that the alignment of pieces were obscure
- Some parts of the tree, the branches in particular, were unclear on how to orient and where to attach
- Unlike with LEGOs where each bag is numbered and the instructions tell you which ones to open for the upcoming steps, the Newrice one does not
- I later found that there are markings on the bags (ie. 2.2, 2.4, etc.) corresponding to the section (ie. 2) about to be built, but you will have to open ALL of them at once to find the needed pieces
- Tree and steps must be carefully put together as some parts are not held together solid until later
- They can loosen up during transport
- Hanging the cherry blossoms were extremely difficult to follow along in the instruction guide, but I found that you can just wing it (like I did), and still have the end result look great
- Some pink flower pieces are hard to put onto the white flowers
- Could be frustrating for some to put hundreds of pink flowers onto the white pieces
- It was great dexterity training for my 4.5 year old
- A few fingers started to hurt after a while
- Product box rates the kit for age 6+ years, but I found that to be too low
- Amazon product listing shows 10+ to be appropriate, and I agree with that
In A Nutshell
The NewRice, LEGO-inspired building set is simply a beautiful, colorful interpretation of Japan’s Fushimi Inari Shrine positioned against a blooming, Cherry blossom tree. It conveys peace and tranquility, accented by a mellow glow from its battery-powered light, that looks awe-inspiring during both daylight and night time. One could almost imagine walking around the scenery of Sakuras strewn all along the ground, up the curved steps through the Inari Shrine gate, and contemplating under the Cherry tree how short, yet magnificent life can be. Love each other and be good to one another!
Check on Amazon: NewRice Sakura Tree Inari Shrine Building Kit
Tips and Notes
- My 4.5 year old was able to follow along (with some help during the more challenging parts of the guide) up until we got to the curving steps
- The parts I decided to build on my own were:
- Curving steps
- Sakura tree
- Cherry blossom branch arrangements
- He was able to follow along during all other parts
- The parts I decided to build on my own were:
- Finished product was roughly L 11″ x W 9″ x H 10″
- See the BUILDING NOTES section for some building tips and observations
Time to Build
- About 7 hours with my son. Likely 4-5 hours without him
There were some challenges we came across, and the following photos will provide some guidance on how they were resolved.
Immediately, you will notice that the pieces are LEGO compatible. The instructions do not mention which bags go with what sections, but the plastics are marked with “2.x” for use with Section 2. Some pieces were difficult to find because the drawings were unclear at times.
Stairs to Torii Gate
Take note that the drawing for building the first step was unclear on how the pieces are supposed to line up. Once you have that right, the rest will fall into place. Get it wrong, and you will have to start over.
Cherry Blossom Tree
The most time-consuming part of the entire kit: building the tree, preparing the flowers, and attaching them to the branches.
Finally, what remained was putting the batteries into the light switch box and attaching the LED bar to any of the cherry blossoms. Two fences at the back were supposed to be replaced with the battery box, but I preferred putting it on the platform itself for more pleasing continuity.
Where To Buy