Fushimi Inari – foxes

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These little foxes are everywhere in Fushimi Inari, guarding almost all the small shrines, but are a rare sight in the rest of Japan.

Apparently, the deity Inari, to whom this temple is dedicated, is often associated with foxes. Inari is linked to merchants and successful businesses, and also to rice. After all, full warehouses of rice must be a sign of good business.

If you look closely, you can see a key in one of the fox’s mouths. This represents the key to those rice warehouses.

On the mountain I saw a lot of shops selling kitsune udon. That’s a play on words: the same word for the sweet soy based wrappers used in kitsune udon (kitsune) is also the Japanese word for fox. What really links it all together is the popular Inari-zushi. It’s a type of sushi that is rice stuffed into the same wrapper as is used in kitsune udon. That one dish then depicts the link between the god of rice (Inari) and foxes, and is also, in my opinion, delicious.

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