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Taste of Nature

Ichinoseki, where the mochi cuisine has taken root


In Ichinoseki, Iwate, the mochi (rice cake) cuisine has been taking root as a unique culture since it had been started by the domain of Date in the Edo Period.
According to the “mochi calendar” handed down in this area, people eat mochi for 60 days a year. throughout its history, the mochi has been special for their diet. In order to enjoy such mochi, “Yumemiru otome no yakata” is the perfect place. It is a renovated 200-year-old house where you can enjoy your meals while looking at the tea room, warehouse and garden remaining from the Taisho era.


There are only two menus in this restaurant: the “wild vegetable plate” and the “mochi plate.”
On the wild vegetables plate, there are plenty of seasonal, colorful wild vegetables which the restaurant owner Ms. Sasaki has just harvested in a mountain nearby 3 hours ago. On this day, there are around 10 types of small bowls, including namasu, canthopanax sciadophylloides, tsukushi, wipe, bamboo shoots, tin, hatake mushroom, Akebi boiled with wine, Chunlan, blackberry sake.

On the mochi plate, there are four types of mochi with different flavors, including “Anko”, “wild sesame (Egoma)” “Fusumochi (burdock)” and “Swamp Shrimp.” In a traditional way of eating, “Anko” shoud be eaten first. “Fusumochi” which grated burdock and loachs with soy sauce stimulates your appetite for its wild scent. The “June” mochi, or the wild sesami with fragrant flavors and the “Swamp Shrimp” mochi, or salty swamp shrimps are the tastes unique to this area. You can enjoy various attarctiveness of mochi with the single plate.

Rice grown with water in Ichinoseki


The hidden reason for such delicious mochi is water used in raising the rice. Ms. Sasaki raises a type of rice called koganemochi using clean water from a reservoir. The blessing of water makes the rice delicious, and it becomes sticky by being pound with a mallet and mortar while it is hot.

A group pf mochi pounders traveling around the world

Born in Tokyo, Ms. Sasaki moved to Ichinoseki and got interested in the mochi cuisine rooted in this area. That was why she founded the first restaurant seving mochi as a main dish in Iwate. In order to pass down the tradition, she founded a group of pounders who perform mochi pounding across the country and even beyond its boarder. As well as the restauant management, she has begun her hostel and a program in which local children can experience mochi pounding. “The next goal is to perform mochi ponding at the Tokyo Olympics 2020,” said Ms. Sasaki who was exactly like a “dreaming girl.”

My impression

It was interesting for me to listen to her story related to local food from Ms. Sasaki who was passionate about mochi. Rather than just a meal, it was a precious opportunity to learn about the culture and history in the region.

 

Yumemiru otome no yakata (Dreaming girl’s house)

Address: 〒 029-3207 Iwate Prefecture Ichinoseki Iwaoshima letter Kashiwagi 39 (5 min by taxi from Ikushima station)
Phone number: 0191-82-2722
URL: https: //www.facebook.com/yumemiruotomenoyakata/
Opening hours: 11: 00-20: 30 (reservation is required 2 days in advance)
No regular holiday
Access: 30min. by car from Wakayanagi Kinnari IC

Interview & Photography by  Ichita Komori  and Remo Sugimoto
Edit by Remo Sugimoto