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Aburi-Mochi: Grilled Mochi on Skewers
Mochi, Kinako, and Bamboo Skewers -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2007 Jeffrey Eric Francis Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D200 + Nikkor 17-55 f/2.8 @ 55mm — 1/50 sec, f/3.5, ISO 500 — map & image datanearby photos
Mochi, Kinako, and Bamboo Skewers

Dipping into my photo archives back to last February, I've been wanting to write about our visit to Ichiwa in north-western Kyoto, a thousand-year-old family-run purveyor of aburi-mochi (あぶり餅 – “lightly grilled mochi”): grilled kinako mochi on skewers.

Mochi is basically cooked sweet rice that's been pulverized into a sticky, gooey paste. Kinako is flour made from roasted soybeans.

Unassuming Shop -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2007 Jeffrey Eric Francis Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D200 + Nikkor 17-55 f/2.8 @ 24mm — 1/200 sec, f/7.1, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Unassuming Shop

The family started business in the second year of the reign of the emperor Chouhou (長保2年), which would place it square on Year 1000 of the western calendar. 1,008 years and 24 generations of history later, it's currently run by Mieko Hasegawa.

I'm not sure how much stock to place in this talk of 1,000 years of history, because if you count two more generations for her current kids and grandkids, that's still more than 37 years/generation. That seems to be a bit much — I'd expect closer to 20 years/generation over the long haul, which would be about 50 generations total.

In any case, the shop is right next to Kyoto's Imamiya Shrine (which has been around since 994, six years longer than the shop). On the same day we visited last February, I photographed some very early plum blossoms at the shrine. Blossoms before Valentine's Day!.

I didn't have time to post much about it at the time because it was just a few days before Lightroom 1.0 was released and I was working like a madman on my Lightroom custom metadata-viewer preset builder (coincidentally, the picture of Anthony on that post was taken just in front of the mochi shop).

Almost a year delayed, I'm finally getting around to posting about the mochi experience.

It's Time To Make The Aburi-Mochi -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2007 Jeffrey Eric Francis Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D200 + Nikkor 17-55 f/2.8 @ 17mm — 1/45 sec, f/3.5, ISO 500 — map & image datanearby photos
It's Time To Make The Aburi-Mochi

In the view inside the shop shown above, I assume that the lady sitting at center with the blue apron is the current 24th-generation proprietress, with her daughter standing in the red check apron, and her granddaughters sitting at the table with her. She'd been the head of the shop since her mother passed away the previous year, at 90.

They take a handfuls of bamboo skewers, roll grape-sized bits of sticky mochi in the kinako powder that covers the tatami-mat table. Besides imparting taste, the kinako powder serves the same “destickify” purpose as the flour did for the guy making udon noodles I posted about the other day.

Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2007 Jeffrey Eric Francis Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D200 + Nikkor 17-55 f/2.8 @ 52mm — 1/30 sec, f/2.8, ISO 500 — map & image datanearby photos
Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2007 Jeffrey Eric Francis Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D200 + Nikkor 17-55 f/2.8 @ 55mm — 1/125 sec, f/2.8, ISO 500 — map & image datanearby photos

Once they have enough for your order prepared, they bring them outside to the front of the shop where they have open hot coals, and grill them for a few minutes. I neglected to get a picture of that, but there's a nice one on this page.

Once they're done, they cover them in a sweet kinako-based sauce, and bring them to you along with a cup of tea.

Small, but Filling -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2007 Jeffrey Eric Francis Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D200 + Nikkor 17-55 f/2.8 @ 38mm — 1/90 sec, f/5, ISO 500 — map & image datanearby photos
Small, but Filling

You get 15 skewers for 500 yen (about five bucks).

This is the shop that invented this dish, but immediately across the street is another, although be warned that the other shop has been around only a short time (not much more than 400 years).

At the time, I was still getting used to my Nikkor 17-55/2.8 lens, playing with its relatively shallow depth of focus...

Playing With Shallow Depth of Focus -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2007 Jeffrey Eric Francis Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D200 + Nikkor 17-55 f/2.8 @ 55mm — 1/180 sec, f/2.8, ISO 500 — map & image datanearby photos
Playing With Shallow Depth of Focus

If I had the chance to do that shot again, I'd stop the lens down just a bit. Hmmmm, I often find myself in its general area, so I should just stop in again for a snack...


Comments so far....

Love your blog! Your photos are inspirational.

We visited the “newer” shop last year while this one was being repaired, and came back to see how well the veteran compared (since we thought the youngster was pretty darned good). After trying both, I’d say it’s a dead heat! Guess we’ll need to compare some more. :)

— comment by Mike on July 8th, 2013 at 8:15pm JST (9 months, 17 days ago) comment permalink
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