Kyoto: Thousands of Brilliant Orange Gates and Fox Spirits-Themed Lunch 伏見稻荷大社千本鳥居和狐狸烏龍麵

After visiting supposedly the number one autumn destination of Kyoto — Tōfuku-ji — we walked through a residential area to get to thousands of brilliant orange torii gates at Fushimi Inari Taisha. Fushimi Inari Taisha is all about fox spirits. To add to this theme, we ate at a restaurant that was founded almost 500 years ago and featured iconic local dishes associated with the sacred fox spirits.

去完號稱東京紅葉第一名所的東福寺,我們走過一個住宅區,來到有著上千個橘紅鳥居的伏見稻荷大社。午餐很符合主題,在一間將近五百年前創立的餐廳吃狐狸大神愛的稻荷壽司和狐狸烏龍麵。

It’s only a 20-minute walk from Tōfuku-ji to Fushimi Inari Taisha. You can arrange to visit Tōfuku-ji, Fushimi Inari Taisha, and other temples in Higashiyama in the same day.

從東福寺走到伏見稻荷大社只要大概二十分鐘而已,可以輕鬆排進同一天。

I picked this restaurant “Nezameya” for lunch. I mean, how often do you eat at restaurants that were founded some 500 years ago?

午餐的餐廳叫Nezameya 祢ざめ家,畢竟人生也不是常常有機會在五百年老店吃飯。

Nezameya was founded in 1540. A famous general and politician of the 16th century, Toyotomi Hideyoshi (豊臣秀吉), once stopped by this restaurant after going to the nearby shrine. He liked it so much that he named the restaurant after his wife.

The shrine he visited was Fushimi Inari Taisha in the Fushimi Ward of Kyoto. It is the head shrine of a Shinton deity, Inari, the god of rice. Foxes are believed to be sacred messengers of the god of rice, so the shrine worships fox spirits.

祢ざめ家1540年開業,據說豐臣秀吉某天一早來伏見稻荷大社拜拜之後沒地方歇腳,只有這家餐廳開著,龍心大悅,用他老婆的名字寧寧幫餐廳取名。

伏見稻荷大社拜的是神道教的稻荷神,稻荷神的神聖信差是狐狸,所以伏見稻荷大社到處都是狐狸。

It is believed that foxes love fried tofu “aburaage.” Farmers make inari sushi — sushi rice stuffed in sweet soy sauce flavored fried tofu pouches — as offerings for fox spirits in hope for an abundant harvest. Another version of story is this: Foxes mess with rice patches, so farmers leave these fried tofu sushi outside for foxes to eat so that they would not chew up the crops.

The restaurant Nezameya serves inari sushi. It was very good. Nicely seasoned. The sushi rice inside was mixed with sesame and other crunchy stuff. (I think it was flax seeds!?)

謠傳狐狸愛吃炸豆腐 (aburaage),所以農民會做豆皮壽司來孝敬狐狸,祈求豐收。另一種說法是,狐狸愛來田裡搗蛋,放豆皮壽司給狐狸吃,狐狸就不會破壞稻作。

祢ざめ家的招牌是豆皮壽司,我覺得超好吃,不會太甜太酸,醋飯裡面加了芝麻和脆脆的據說是麻的實 (亞麻子!?)。

Nezameya is also famous for its grilled eel. The staff grills eel right outside of the restaurant. I ordered a set that included grilled eel over rice and kitsune udon. Kitsune udon is another dish with Shinto belief significance. Kitsune udon is udon noodle in a light dashi broth, topped with fried seasoned tofu “aburaage.” Kitsune is Japanese for fox. It is basically a bowl of udon noodle soup topped with fox spirits’ favorite food.

另外一項招牌是烤鰻魚,我應景點了狐狸烏龍麵和鰻魚飯的套餐,狐狸烏龍麵就是個烏龍湯麵上面應神聖狐狸的喜好放一塊炸豆皮。

This restaurant serves a Kyoto classic dish, mackerel nigiri. Kyoto is landlocked. Back in the day, fresh caught mackerel from a seaport Wasaka was cured and shipped to Kyoto. Mackerel nigiri thus became an iconic dish.

The best mackerel sushi in Kyoto is supposedly Izuu in Gion. We did not have time to try it, so I didn’t have a base line for comparison to tell you whether the mackerel nigiri here is good or not. I ordered this dish out of curiosity and prepared myself for the worst. I thought the cured mackerel would be very salty and fishy. I was not sure if I would like the taste from fermentation. It turned out to be okay, but I was not a fan.

這家餐廳還有賣京都特色鯖魚壽司,京都不靠海,以前都是從若狹送海產來,但是不能保鮮,所以魚都是用鹽醃漬,因此有了這個地方特色的鯖魚壽司。京都最有名的鯖魚壽司是祇園的百年老店鯖姿壽司,我們沒機會去吃,無法比較,人生第一次吃鯖魚壽司,所以無法告訴你這家到底好不好吃。我本以為醃漬鯖魚可能會很鹹很腥或者有發酵的怪味,但其實還好,不過也不能說好吃。

My husband is not a fan of tofu or fermented fish. He ordered a shrimp tempura over rice. The rice was drizzled with dashi broth. He really liked that as well as the fox udon soup.

Aaron不愛豆腐也不愛醃漬魚,點了炸蝦飯,飯淋了高湯,他還蠻愛他的炸蝦飯還有狐狸烏龍麵。

Before you add Nezameya to your itinerary, I want to give you a friendly warning. I realized after this trip that Nezameya got horrible reviews online. It scored 3.38 on Tablelog, which wasn’t bad at all, but only 98 reviews. Yet on Tripadvisor, there were a ton of brutal one- or two-star reviews. The bad reviews mostly are: overpriced, horrible service, horrible food, and no soy sauce.

Overpriced? It is in fact pricey for small portions. Horrible service? Yeah, most of the waiting staff were not all that warm and fuzzy. They do make it clear that one person needs to order a minimum of one dish and that guests need to get the heck out once done eating. Reviews about soy sauce crack me up. I know so many Americans who drench Eastern Asian food with soy sauce, whether it is off-brand from a packet or brand-name from a bottle. The amount of sodium intake is concerning. You don’t pour soy sauce on a seasoned, prepared dish.

If a lack of friendly service or soy sauce is a deal breaker, you don’t want to go to this restaurant. Also, the furniture was low to the ground and they crammed as many seats as possible into the space.

I would recommend this place and here’s why. My family and I were happy with this meal. What made this place intriguing to me was the legend about this well-known general and the fact that this business has been around since 1540. Trying locally themed dishes associated with the fox spirits and the god of rice before visiting a shrine that worships them furthermore completed the day. (Menu and prices are at the bottom of this post.)

If you don’t have time or space in your stomach to eat a full meal here, the restaurant has a take-out window where you can get a box of fried tofu skin sushi to try.

祢ざめ家很多台灣人網誌都推,tablelog評價也還可以,但外國人在tripadvisor評價超級差,大致上是太貴、服務差、東西難吃、沒有醬油。這家價位是真的偏高,份量不大,譬如說鰻魚飯的鰻魚實在很小塊。服務不走親切溫暖路線,而且網路上寫得很清楚一人要點一份、吃完就要閃人。醬油嘛,我認識超多美國人吃東亞食物會在上面狂倒醬油,這家餐廳不提供醬油,就得到很多負評。位子很小倒是真的,桌椅很矮,坐下來還蠻擠的。

但整體來說我還蠻推薦這家餐廳的,我們全家都很滿意,豆皮壽司好吃,去伏見稻荷大社看狐狸又吃應景狐狸烏龍麵和稻荷壽司,而且據說1540年就開始營業了,名字還是豐臣秀吉取的,整個很符合京都之旅主題。沒空坐下吃一餐也可以外帶一盒豆皮壽司。(網誌最後面有菜單)

After lunch, we started walking up the hill of the Inari Mountain. The worship of the god of rice at this mountain can be traced back to 711 AD.

吃完午餐之後,我們開始慢慢爬稻荷山,日本人711年就開始在這邊拜稻荷大神了。

Fushimi Inari Taisha (伏見稻荷大社) is known for thousands of torii (鳥居) — which is typically a shrine’s entrance that represents a gate from the secular world to the sacred world. Even their ema (絵馬) are in the shape of torii. Ema is a talisman that you write your wish on, hang it up at a shrine, and hope Shinto deity would make your wish come true.

Historically people come to this shrine to pray for bountiful harvests, business prosperity, and safe travels.

伏見稻荷大社最有名的是上千個橘紅鳥居,鳥居通常是神社入口代表從人界到仙界的象徵,伏見稻荷大社用鳥居來許願,連繪馬都是鳥居造型。稻荷大神過去是保佑豐收,現在大家通常來伏見稻荷大社拜生意昌隆和交通安全。

Since fox spirits are the bosses here, there are also ema in the shape of a fox.

既然到處都是神聖狐狸,神社裡也有狐狸繪馬。

Further up the hill, the trails are lined with thousands of torii gates in brilliant orange. Corporations and individuals can donate to the shrine, get a torii with their names carved on, and the god of rice would look after their businesses or families. There are six tiers of donations. The cheapest and smallest gates cost about USD $1,550 (175,000 yen). The tallest, most expensive gates cost more than USD $11,500 (1,302,000 yen).

往稻荷山上走,開始看到傳說中的千本鳥居,原來是捐錢給神社,神社就會立一座鳥居請稻荷大神保佑你,最便宜的鳥居從四萬六台幣起跳,最高檔的超大鳥居要三十四萬台幣。

 

Visiting Fushimi Inari Taisha

Admission is free. The shrine is open 24 hours. It takes somewhere between 45 minutes to three hours to visit this place, depending on how much hiking you want to do. You can hike as far as you wish and turn around and head back. We spent about an hour and 40 minutes here and were probably only a third of the way through the trails.

During spring or fall, this is a very busy tourist spot that you want to come here early in the morning to avoid the crowd. We went there on a Monday at about 11 am in late November and it was very crowded.

There are not a whole lot of sit-down restaurants in the area, but leading up to the entrance there are lots of food venders.

參觀伏見稻荷大社不用門票,24小時開放,可以逛個45分鐘到三個小時,看要爬多大一圈,可以走一走就往回,我們大概花了一小時四十分鐘逛,大概只爬了不到三分之一。

春季或秋季來的話,這也是個超熱門景點,能一早來是最好,我們挑了個星期一早上大概十一點到,人超多。附近沒有太多餐廳,但很多小吃,往神社的路上一路都是攤販。

 

How to Get Here

Take the Keihan Railway to the Fushiminari Station and walk about six minutes or JR Nara Line to Inari Station and walk about two minutes to get to the entrance. You can also take Kyoto City Bus route 5 to Inari Taisha-mae and walk about seven minutes.

伏見稻荷大社交通十分方便,可以搭京阪電鐵到伏見稲荷駅再走六分鐘,或搭JR奈良線到稻荷駅,走兩分鐘,京都市內公車也可以到,搭南5到稲荷大社前,走路大概七分鐘。

 

Fushimi Inari Taisha 伏見稻荷大社
Open 24 hours
Free admission
inari.jp/en

Nezameya 祢ざめ家
Address: 京都市伏見区深草御前町82
10:00 am – 6:00 pm, closed on random days of the month
nezameya.com

 

 

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2 thoughts on “Kyoto: Thousands of Brilliant Orange Gates and Fox Spirits-Themed Lunch 伏見稻荷大社千本鳥居和狐狸烏龍麵

  1. Kyoto is definitely one of my favourite places to visit. It’s so beautiful! Thank you for sharing!!! The food also looks so mouthwatering!!

  2. Pingback: Kyoto: Golden Leaves of Ginkgo Trees 京都御苑、西本願寺金黃銀杏 | Near and Far

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