Fox Spirit Tofu (Inari Sushi) - Food and Drink

The Element Encyclopedia of Witchcraft: The Complete A-Z for the Entire Magical World - Judika Illes 2005

Fox Spirit Tofu (Inari Sushi)
Food and Drink

What do you serve a fox spirit? Well, they love fried tofu. If you wish to please or lure a fox spirit, a plate of fried tofu reputedly does the trick. Aburage is the Japanese name for thinly cut tofu, drained and fried in oil. Its association with fox spirits is so strong that it is also called inariage.

Inari is the Japanese spirit who presides over rice. Foxes are her/his sacred animal and messenger. There are approximately 40,000 Inari shrines throughout Japan.

The identification of fox spirits with fried tofu has inspired other dishes such as Fox spirit sushi or, in Japanese, Inari sushi (also sometimes spelled Inarizushi). Inari sushi is a simple, modest, and inexpensive type of sushi incorporating no fish. Despite the fox associations, this is a vegetarian dish: triangular, deep-fried tofu bags are filled with sushi rice (sticky, vinegared rice.) Inari sushi is sometimes placed under the paws of the stone foxes found in Inari shrines as an offering.

However, renegade fox spirits also crave this treat, as do those fox spirits affiliated with the sorcerers known as Fox Spirit Owners. Allegedly some fox spirits transform into human-shape just for easier access to Inari sushi.

Among the most renowned Inari shrines is the one in Fushimi, a saké production center near Kyoto. The shrine was established in 711 CE. Inari sushi is served at the many small restaurants along the shrine’s hiking trail, as is another dish, kitsune udon (“Fox Udon”), a noodle soup topped with fried tofu.

See ANIMALS: Foxes.