(Click here to start this blog series on Fushimi Inari Shrine from the beginning.)
Fushimi Inari’s famous gates continue all the way up the mountain.
Over a dozen “stations,” consisting of sub-shrines, restaurants, and teahouses line the mountain’s slopes, offering visitors a place to stop and pray, leave offerings, or rest and enjoy a cup of tea or a snack along the way.
My favorite place to stop sits about halfway up Mount Inari, at a crossroads where a lovely traditional restaurant welcomes guests and offers amazing views of Kyoto:
The interior of the restaurant is just as special as the view. It’s built in the traditional style, with raised seating areas and Japanese-style tables:
Here’s another view:
Like many restaurants in Japan, the menu offerings change wth the seasons–but my favorite dish, inarizushi, remains on the menu all year round.
Reputed to be a favorite of the kami Inari as well as his kitsune messengers (kitsune are shape-changing spirits that often appear in the form of a fox–hence the fox statues that populate Fushimi Inari and other Inari shrines), inarizushi consists of sweet sushi rice and black sesame wrapped in fried tofu skin:
It might sound offputting, if you’re not used to tofu (or haven’t had it prepared this way) but I promise, the dish appeals to even the pickiest Western palates. It’s delicious!
The pink slivers on the side of the plate are pickled ginger. Tsukemono (pickled vegetables) are a part of almost every Japanese meal. The type and color varies to complement the dishes served. In the case of inarizushi, pickled ginger is often the go-to choice–which I love, because pickled ginger is one of my favorites.
After lunch and a cup of tea, it’s time to hit the trail again for the next leg of our journey up the mountain. Click here for the next installment!