10. Street Treets: Fushimi-Inari Taisha--KathrynAn Inari pilgrimage with a Fox theme.
On our walk to the Fushimi Inari Taisha shrine, a few stops south of the Hyatt on the Keihan line, we zizagged across the narrow street that led up to the orange gates. We oggled the endless array of cookies, cakes and tiny treats. Who needs meals when the road to every temple is gilded with sweets?
These Sembei snacks, rice crackers, came in seventeen flavors: seaweed, fish flakes, soy sauce, etc. Ken stuck with peppery green seaweed.
Restaurants displayed their wares like this, a boon for people like us, who can't read the Japanese menu. We stopped in one place for inari, a scrambled egg, and a pot of hot tea. After all, no Inari pilgrimage could have been complete without a plate of sweet soy.
On the way back down to the train, we had to say hi to the fox-cookie man.
With a great big smile, and his mother lingering around the small store, he makes cookie after cookie in the shape of a fox's face, pouring batter into the iron mold. and resting them over the coals. Kathryn bought a package of one kind of cookie that's like soft peanut brittle, after relieving them of several samples.
In tortured Japanese, Ken explained that my family name was "Fox" or Kitsune (an animal name he knows only because of its close association in Japanese mythology with sweet fried tofu.) I think they got it, because they gave me a free fox cookie that was mostly okay, but kind of a defective with burnt edges, that they couldn't sell. It was a really sweet gesture.
Then Ken held up his camera and asked to take a photo of me, my cookie, and the tiny older woman. "No no no" she smiled and childishly ran away, hiding behind me, face lowered and laughing. She was still in her house clothes and slippers, with white hair going every which way. There was no way she was going to let herself be in our photo album for all time! "OK, OK" Ken said, "OK, OK, No photo!"
We ate the fox cookie on the walk back to the train. It tasted like a very fresh fortune cookie, hot off the press.