Aburi-mochi: The oldest Japanese sweets shop in Kyoto
Have you ever heard of ‘aburi-mochi’? Aburi-mochi is a kind of rice cake sweet served on a bamboo skewer. The rice cakes are coated with a roasted soybean powder and grilled over charcoal fire. The thumb-sized pieces are then basted with a sweet white soybean sauce and served.
In the Kita ward of Kyoto, outside of the Imamiya shrine, there are Japanese sweets shops which specialize in aburi-mochi. One of these is famous as the oldest Japanese sweets shop in business. It has been open since the Heian-era (794 A.D.). Long ago, during the Onin War (1467-1477) when people suffered from hunger, they were treated to aburi-mochi outside of the Imamiya shrine, thus beginning its association with the sweet snack.
In addition, the bamboo stick upon which the aburi-mochi is served is dedicated to the god of the Imamiya shrine. As a result, it is said that if you eat aburi-mochi you can avoid illness, and the aburi-mochi itself can protect people against evils.
There are two famous sweet shops near Imamiya shrine which compete with one another, ‘Kazariya’ and ‘Ichiwa’. ‘Kazariya’ has a history of around 600 years, while ‘Ichiwa’ has been open for nearly 1000 years. Both have a nice atmosphere and serve tasty aburi-mochi, but you may find that Ichiwa’s aburi-mochi are slightly sweeter.
Each plate has 15 aburi-mochi skewers and costs 500 yen. This price also includes as much tea as you care to drink. When it’s really hot outside, cool iced tea is served.
If it’s possible, I would recommend that you sit on the opposite side from the entrance. Both shops have a little garden in the back, and if you eat aburi-mochi while enjoying the garden, they taste even better. Many people come to snack on aburi-mochi when the autumn foliage is out, this is an especially good time to enjoy them from the garden.
When there are many people, you may have to stand in line for aburi-mochi, but it is worth it to try them and taste the history of Kyoto for yourself.
Both shops and the shrine are located not far from the famous Golden Pavillion. While perhaps a bit far to walk to, if you take the bus it is only a short trip, therefore it may be worth your time to drop by if you go to see the Golden Pavillion.
Also, nearby there is a shrine called Kitano-tenmangu which has an excellent market on the 25th of every month. If time permits, you should take a look. Information: Access