3 Must-tries on Fushimi Inari Temple & Inari Sushi Roll

The big front gate of Fushimi Inari and some Inari sushi on a plate
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Must-Try 1: Savor Inari Sushi in Fushimi Inari

Fushimi Inari

Some 800 vermilion gates standing along the path to Inari Mountain top

Fushimi Inari Taisha is one of the most popular shrines in Japan. Even Japanese feel exotism in it, especially in its traditional Japanese gate called Senbon Torii (1,000 gates) which consists of actually some 800 vermilion gates. The color of vermilion is believed to prevent disasters and magical power.

Each gate is said to have been donated since the early 17th century by worshippers. You can put your torii by donation, however, you need to wait for several years.

A statue of fox sitting inside the Fushimi Inari

Inari is shrines and temples in which the god of agriculture is enshrined, and you can see many statues of fox in the precincts of Inari. Foxes are believed to be messengers of god who protect crops from rats. Fushimi Inari Taisha is the head of all the 30,000 Inari shrines and temples nationwide.

Two different types of statues of fox placed in different locations

There are some types of statute of fox in Fushimi Inari in terms of shape of the foxes and what the foxes hold in their mouths. Each fox holds either one of ears of rice, scrolls, balls or keys. Ears of rice represent god’s blessing, scrolls represent wisdom, balls represent god’s spiritual power and keys represent keys for treasure house. It should be fun to find how many different fox statues there.

Inari Sushi

Fried tofu skins on a strainer and Inari sushi which is about to be eaten

Legend has it that aburaage (fried tofu skin) is a favorite food of foxes. It is said that originally fried rats were offered to the foxes, however, the Buddhist teachings had prohibited killing animals, thus people in those days decided to offer aburaage instead of fried rats. That is why the sushi made with aburaage is called Inari sushi.

Kobu(seaweed) udon and Inari sushi is on a table

You should try Inari sushi in the precincts of Fushimi Inari. There are several small restaurants in the precincts of Fushimi Inari which serves Inari sushi.

Actually, only Inari sushi is not enough for a meal, thus you can eat it with soba (Japanese buckwheat noodles) or udon (thick Japanese noodles). You can find a kobu (shredded kelp) udon with Inari sushi in the above picture.

If you miss the chance to eat it in the precincts of Fushimi Inari, do not worry, you can find some Japanese restaurants on the road from Fushimi Inari Taisha to Fushimi Inari Station of Keihan Railway where you can eat Inari sushi.  

Must-Try 2: Buy an Omikuji in a Fox Shaped Pottery

Omikuji

A fortune slip which is taken out of a fortune slip box

Omikuji is Japanese fortune slip which you buy in shrines or temples. You pick up a fortune slip out of a fortune slip box.  Sometimes you pick up a stick with a number printed on out of a box like a lottery box as a first step, and then you get the fortune slip corresponding to the number by yourself out of a wooden drawer which contains slips.  There are times when the fortune slip for the number is given by a shrine maiden. 

The omikuji contains a single Chinese character, which represents either “great luck”, “good luck”, “small luck”, “luck”, or “bad luck” about the overall fortune for the year ahead.

Additionally, the omikuji also contains advice on various aspects of life, such as wishes, lost items, study, conflicts, health, work, wealth, love etc.

Buy Omikuji at Araki Shrine

A large number of fox dolls wearing kimono (Japanese dress)

Araki shrine enshrines the matchmaker’s god not only with lovers, but also with good friends and good things. You can see a large number of fox dolls in kimono (Japanese dress) are gathering at Araki shrine which is one of the photo spots of my recommendation.

Many omikuji in in fox shaped potteries displayed at Araki shrine

Yon can find Araki shrine near the foot of the Inari Mountain when you climb down the mountain taking the anti-clockwise route from the mountain top.

However, it may be difficult for you for the first time to find it, then you had better to go Araki shrine first following my instructions;

Go to the main shrine building of Fushimi Inari Taisha first, and then proceed diagonally to the left, go up the stairs, you can reach a wider space.

Thers is a sign saying that you need to go right for Senbon Torii & left for Inari Saryo.

Go left toward Inari Saryo, a cafe in the precincts of Fushimi Inari Taisha. With the Saryo on your right, go straight ahead and follow the road and you will find Araki shrine after a while.

A fox shaped pottery on a table with a front view and with a side view

The omikuji of Araki shrine is accommodated in a fox shaped pottery, and you can choose one by yourself. Look at facial expression of each fox which varies in a subtle way. You should choose one you like. One might look smiling, and another might look thoughtful.

A fortune slip which is written in Japanese on the front side and in English on the back side

The omikuji of Araki shrine is written in Japanese, English and other languages as seen in the above which is common in many shrines and temples nowadays.

A girl tying her Omikuji)(fortune slip)

After getting the omikuji, let’s tie it to a wire or to a branch near the omikuji place.  It is because tying the omikuji at shrines or temples is believed to be tying you with the god. Of course, you can take the omikuji with you, sometimes in your wallet in the hope that the fortune telling come true.

Must-Try 3: Hold an Inari Sushi Party at Home

Basic Cooking of Inari Sushi

Preparation of Sushi Rice

Sushi rice which is cooked in a bowl

First, prepare sushi rice (vinegared rice) by mixing cooked rice with rice vinegar, sugar, and salt as shown below;

Cook Japanese short-grain rice and place 1.5 lb.(680g) of cooked rice in a large bowl.

Make sushi vinegar by mixing 3 Tbsp(45ml) of rice vinegar, 5 tsp(20g) of sugar and 1 tsp(6g) of salt.

Then sprinkle the sushi vinegar onto the cooked rice.

“Slice” the rice to make sushi rice, instead of mixing, so that the rice will not get mushy.

Preparation of Inari Age

Some seasoned Inari ages on a plate

Then, make Inari age by simmering aburaage (fried tofu skin) in a broth made with water, sugar, soy sauce and mirin (sweet sake) as shown below;

Slice 10 pieces of aburaage in half.

Blanch the aburaage in a boiling water to remove excess oil.

soy 4.5 fl oz (135ml) of water, 6 Tbsp(72g) of sugar, 5 Tbsp(75ml) of soy sauce and1 Tbsp(15ml) of mirin to make sauce.

Cook the aburaage in the sauce until the sauce is almost gone.

It is OK to buy packaged Inari age at a store which is easy.

Stuff Inari Age with Sushi Rice

Inari age stuffed with sushi rice on a plate

Inari age is very fragile. Carefully open Inari age while trying not to tear it up, and make a pocket using your fingertips from the sliced side. Then, stuff Inari age with sushi rice little by little. You can make Inari sushi for 6 to 8 people.

Variety of Inari Sushi

3 Inari sushi topped with shrimp, avocado and salmon etc.

Instead of making traditional Inari sushi, why don’t you hold a Inari sushi party with your original Inari sushi! It is OK to put your favorite toppings on Inari sushi.

One of the topping ideas is to place smoked salmon, avocado, cooked shrimp and shredded omelets, which is beautiful in appearance. White wine goes well with it.

Inari sushi topped with tuna salad on a plate

Inari sushi like salad is a good option to try. Make tuna salad with sea chicken (flaked tuna), sliced cucumber and corn combined with mayonnaise, and top it on Inari sushi. Creamy tuna salad goes very well with sweet Inari age and sour sushi rice.

Several Inari sushi on a plate topped with sliced cucumber, surimi and salmon caviar etc.

Preparing toppings in bowls is one of the ideas of the Inari sushi party so that participants can choose whatever toppings they want to put on Inari sushi. Thinly sliced surimi, cucumber and salmon caviar can be healthy topping like salad.

Chirashi Sushi

Chirashi sushi topped with shrimp, salmon, tuna and avocado on a table

Now that you know how to make sushi rice. Let’s make use of it for chirashi sushi. The word “Chirashi” means “to scatter,” and the name is said to have come from the way the colorful ingredients are scattered all over a platter of sushi rice.

It does not require any difficult techniques, and is easy to make at home. There are no special rules for the ingredients to use, and it is important to decorate the dish in a festive manner. Why don’t you throw a home party serving chirashi sushi with shrimp, salmon, tuna, avocado and other favorite items.

It is eaten on birthdays and other celebratory occasions, and is also eaten on the Dolls’ Festival or Girls’ Festival (March 3rd, a festival to pray for the healthy growth and happiness of girls) in households with girls in Japan.

Now you can cook both Inari sushi and Chirashi sushi. There are several kinds of sushi in Japan. For more information about sushi, please check it from here: “8 Japanese Foods to Learn About” / “Sushi”

Advice & Recommendations from a Native Japanese

Goshuin

The red ink stamp of Fushimi Inari Taisha

Many Japanese worshippers get a “Goshuin” which is a certificate of the visit to a shrine or temple. Each shrine or temple has its original goshuin.

Goshuin consists of the date of a pilgrimage, the name of the shrine or temple and the name of the god or Buddha written with a calligraphy brush in black ink, and a red ink stamp

Why don’t you get the goshuin of Fushimi Inari Taisha as Japanese people do which could be a good memory of your visit to Fushimi Inari. You need a goshuin book to get it, and you can buy it at the place you get goshuin.

Approach the Top of Inari Mountain

Worshippers approaching to the mountain top

Many worshippers visit Senbon Torii and some famous places, and then return. Actually, at Fushimi Inari Taisha, the entire Inari Mountain where there are many small shrines is the object of faith. Climbing to the top of Inari Mountain and coming back would take about 2 hours which is about 2.5miles(4Km).

When you aim at the top of the mountain, please take the anti-clockwise route while visiting each shrine. The route largely goes down once, but please do not worry, as it goes up again and leads to the top of the mountain in the end if you follow the sign.

When you come closer to the top, worshippers are in a line on the right-hand side of the path. You should be patient and do not go left-hand side where nobody makes a line as you cannot reach the entrance of Suehiro shrine, which is located at the mountain top. The worshippers are waiting for their turn to pray at Suehiro shrine in the right-hand side line.

“Sue” means future, “Hiro” means wider, thus “Suehiro” means that your future is expanding. Suehiro shrine is called the place with spiritual energy.

Fushimi Inari in the Evening

Senbon torii lit up by lamps at night

Fushimi inari opens 24 hours and it is free of charge.  You can visit it any time, even early in the morning or late in the evening.

Fushimi Inari has a different face in the evening. It is with fantastic atmosphere lit up by lamps. However, you need to be mindful not to trip and fall as it is not bright enough at your foot. Also, wild boars sometimes appear in the evening. Thus, visiting Fushimi Inari in the evening requires special attention.

Illuminated some 800 vermilion gates standing along the path to Inari Mountain top

By the way there was a special light-up event called Senbon Toro (1,000 lanterns) for about a week in October 2022 and 2023. If you plan to visit Fushimi Inari, it’s worth checking if it takes place and when.

Sake Brewery Area in Fushimi

Sake brewery buildings on the road in Fushimi in Kyoto

If you have time and are interested in sake, it is a good option to visit Fushimi sake brewery area after Fushimi Inari Taisha. Fushimi is known as one of the largest sake brewery areas in Japan where a famous spring water selected as one of the “100 best waters in Japan,” gushes forth.

There are more than 20 sake breweries in Fushimi including ones which have the history of more than 100 years.

Fushimi is the lowest point in the Kyoto basin. The rain that fell on the surrounding mountains is collected in Fushimi as groundwater. The water containing minerals, calcium, and potassium produces sake with an elegant flavor. 

Three big sake tanks placed in front of a sake brewery

The sake brewery has begun in the late 16th century. It is also fun to see the scenery of antique building of sake breweries. You can also make use of tour at some breweries such as Gekkeikan brewery, Kizakura brewery etc. where you can look at inside the breweries and try tasting several sakes comparing to others.

A sightseeing boat going on Uji River in front of a sake warehouse

You can also enjoy a cruise on a boat (Jikkokubune Boat Cruise) on Uji River, where some sake breweries are standing along. The scenery varies depending on seasons, such as cherry blossoms in spring and autumn leaves in autumn.

Please be careful that It is usually available only from March to December (It is closed form mid to end of August). It changes depending on the year, thus please check it before your visit.

For more information about the cruise on a boat, please see the website of Jikkokubune Boat Cruise from here.

Access Information

To Go to Fushimi Inari Taisha

1 minutes from Inari Station of JR Line. (Rapid train stops only on new year’s holiday)

3 minutes from Fushimi Inari Station of Keihan Railway

To Go to Sake Brewery Area in Fushimi

6 minutes from Fushimi Momoyama Station of Keihan Railway

10munutes from Momoyama Goryo Station of Kintetsu Railway

To Go to Jikkokubune Boat Cruise

5 minutes from Chushojima Station of Keihan Railway

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