Food and Drinks

[Nara] Nakatanidou (中谷堂): Nara’s Esteemed Mochi Shop

Watch Live Mochi Pounding and Eat on the Spot | Nara | Japan

Nakatanidou is a wagashi (traditional Japanese sweets) shop that regularly attracts crowds. The shop, located on the east side of Sanjo-dori Street, links JR Nara Station in the west to Kofukuji Temple, a World Heritage Site, in the east. [Sanjo-dori links JR Nara Station on the west side to the site of the Kofukuji Temple and Sarusawa pond located in front of Nara Park in the east.] Nakatanidou is well-known for fresh, handmade yomogi-mochi (mugwort rice cake). The white walls and the kawara roof tiles give the shop an atmosphere typical of Nara.         

Nakatanidou’s main attraction is the blistering speed of the mochi-pounding (mochi-tsuki) demonstration at the storefront.  The mochi-pounding has been featured on a variety of media outlets. Using an old-fashioned pestle and mortar, the mochi pounding begins with a cheerful shout. The speed gradually increases and, by the time it is finished, the pounding rate is an astonishing three times per second. This breakneck speed is the key to the soft and firm texture of the resulting yomogi-mochi.  

Yomogi-mochi is chewy and elastic, but it is very soft and stretches out as you take a bite. The ingredients are additive-free and all domestic: the glutinous rice (mochi-gome) is from Saga prefecture, the red beans (azuki) and soybean flour (kinako) are from Hokkaido prefecture, and the mugwort sprouts are from Ehime prefecture. Enjoy the flavor and aroma of mugwort, the moderate sweetness of the red bean paste, and the unique texture of the mochi. 

In addition to yomogi-mochi, the shop sells okaki (rice crackers). The okachi come in a variety of flavors such as soy sauce, aonori (green laver), and shichimi (seven spices), and are sold freshly baked from one piece. Other recommended flavors include aunique Japaneseshiso (perilla), spicy ichimi (red chili pepper), and sweet and sour ume-zarame (sugar marinated sour plum). 

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