Of the many sites we saw in Kyoto, my favorite was spread across a mountain just south of the city, the Fushimi Inari Shrine.
Actually, while the shrine itself was lovely, what I really enjoyed was our four hours hiking around the mountain through the tunnels of orange torii. It didn’t take me long to get us lost on a side path that went around the back of the mountain where we visited many small shrines and tea houses tucked into a bamboo forest.
The shrine is officially dedicated to Inari, the God of Rice, but has come to represent the go-to shrine for prosperity in business. As you can imagine, that’s something that folks want and the Inari shrines are among the most popular in all of Japan. I’ll always think of this however as the “Fox Shrine”, as there are thousands of kitsune statues here.
One thing we learned is that foxes are evidently very fond of fried tofu. As of two days ago, one of my favorite things to eat is Inari-zushi, or the more fun to say, “Fox Pockets!” Simply sushi rice stuffed into a skin of fried tofu, it’s popular and available at all the convenience stores. Of course, I’ve had them in Seattle, but I never knew foxes liked them and was never obsessed with eating them.
Another thing that the foxes love to eat are whole grilled sparrow. While I won’t be eating those every day, it was impossible to pass them by as we left the temple grounds with out at least trying them. Yes, you eat them beak, head, wings, feet and all. They are crunchy, salty, sweet and I can see why foxes can’t resist them.