Get to know Fushimi-ku in Kyoto

13 Sep 2018

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Fushimi (伏見区 Fushimi-ku) is one of the eleven wards in the city of Kyoto, in Kyoto Prefecture, Japan. This region has always been blessed with good quality groundwater, and a rich natural environment even to this day. Fushimi retains the atmosphere of the old days, and is enjoyed by many as a place with rich history and culture.

Fushimi Inari Taisha

Fushimi Inari Shrine is undoubtedly the most famous spot in the area. The highlight of the shrine is the rows of torii gates, known as senbon torii. The custom to donate a torii started to spread in Edo period to make a wish to come true or to thank for a wish that came true. Along the main path there are around 800 senbon torii gates, however including the small torii gates there are around 10,000 torii gateways of all sizes along the mountain paths leading to Fushimi Inari Taisha. These torii gates are donations by individuals and companies, they have donator's name and the date of the donation inscribed on the back of each torii. The cost for the gate starts around 175,000 yen for a small sized gate and can go over one million yen for a large one.

Fushimi Inari is the most important of several thousands of shrines dedicated to Inari, the Shinto god of rice. There are around 30,000 of these shrines all over Japan. Foxes are believed to be Inari's messengers, which is why you will see many fox statues across the shrine grounds. They are often seen with a key for the rice granary in their mouths.

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Fushimi Castle

Fushimi Castle was originally built for Toyotomi Hideyoshi between 1592-1594 and it was here the great warlord passed away in 1598. It is particularly famous for its Golden Tea Room in which both the walls and the implements were covered in gold leaf. However, It seems that Fushimi Castle was never destined to have a successful life. Just one year later after finishing construction it was destroyed in a great earthquake. Hideyoshi commanded another castle to be built near this location. Tokugawa Ieyasu then moved into the castle which was destroyed in a battle before the battle of Sekigahara. He rebuilt the castle again only to have it dismantled as a part of his own one castle per country laws. Some of the buildings, yagura, and stone walls were repurposed to other castles and temples around the area including Fukuyama Castle, Yodo Castle and Osaka Castle. Although the castle is closed for the visitors at the moment, there are plans to reopen it.

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Fushimi Sake District

Although written with different characters now, the name Fushimi originally comes from characters fusu + mizu, meaning "hidden water". In other words, the location was known for good spring water. The water of Fushimi has particularly soft characteristics, making it an essential component to the sake brewed in Fushimi. This also explains why the area developed as a sake-brewing center in Kyoto. Today, Fushimi is the second greatest area of Japan in terms of sake production.

Fushimi has also been in the past on a strategic road where all sort of goods would pass through, including rice. During the 17th century, in the Edo period, progress was made on the construction of a canal, making Fushimi into a center of transport between Kyoto and Osaka. This, along with the superb quality water, made it possible for many breweries to thrive.

On the small surface of 2 square kilometers around here, there are 25 sake breweries (there used to be 41 breweries 40 years ago), and Fushimi sake district has become a prominent sake region valued by many sake enthusiasts.

Saito Shuzo is one of the breweries in Fushimi. We recommend trying their Eikun Junmai Koto Sennen. It is super clean and fruity sake. Sweet and sour fragrance reminiscent of grapefruit, mandarin orange, pineapple and yogurt slowly spreads in the mouth until the very end of the palate. It is made from Iwai rice which gives this sake fragrance and nice mouthfeel. Great to enjoy it chilled right beginning of a meal. Match it with seafood, chicken, or Chinese food.

We invite you to try Eikun sake made with one of the best underground water in Japan following a recipe of hundreds of years of experience and traditions.

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