We’re on a train heading to the outskirts of Kyoto for just one reason– inari.
Sushi is awesome, and inari is perhaps the best sushi of them all. Inari is simple, just lightly-seasoned rice wrapped in a thin layer of tofu called aburaage that has been marinated and deep fried.
This simplicity results in a delicious morsel that is at once sweet and savory, delicate yet toothsome.
The Quest Begins
Discovering that there was an entire town named after the king of sushi just a short train ride from Kyoto’s central station was the catalyst that set us on a journey that would lead us to something far more interesting.
A short time later, we arrive at Inari Station. We cut across the train tracks outside the station, pass over an emerald river, and make our way to Inari’s main street to get a bead on the best sushi spot in town.
Inari is quiet and peaceful. The main street may be built for cars, but it is mostly trafficked by people leisurely walking along and stopping to chat with owners of the shops that line the street.
Food is everywhere, from family-owned senbei shops, to gelaterias. The only thing strangely missing are sushi shops.
We even see a cook happily grilling yakitori chicken skewers of a bed of hot coals. I am not usually one to pass up fresh BBQ, but I save my coins for the sushi we’ve come so far to taste.
Surrounded by Kitsune
While we’ve yet to find the town’s eponymous sushi, we begin to notice that Inari has quite the affection for kitsune (foxes). We take a peek in a gift shop and find it packed to the gills with fox-themed gifts.
There are normal items you would expect to find like wall decorations, stuffed animals, and coin purses, but things get weird when we find the boxes of kitsune candy and hand cream.
Signs of Hope
We begin to suspect that we are heading toward something as the crowds and activity increases as we head further up Inari’s main street.
Hoping that the sushi we search for is near, we push forward and head into the unknown…
Note: The town of Inari wasn’t actually named after the sushi, but rather both the town and the sushi were named after the Shinto god of rice, who likes aburaage almost as much as I do.