Kinseiken Daigahara Confectionary Shop
Water mochi is magical but this smalltown sweets shop has all your Japanese faves.
Although wagashi (traditional Japanese confections) can be found across the country, there are few locations as renowned as a shop called Kinseiken Daigahara. Located in the serene little town of Hokuto in Yamanashi Prefecture, it has one confectionary that goes like hot cakes — but in this case — like water cakes. So take a journey into the countryside and enjoy a rare art form that’s appealing to both sight and taste.
The famous raindrop cake
Of all the confections offered at Kinseiken Daigahara, none is more famous than the mizu shingen mochi. Only available from June through September each year, this rice cake dessert is made from — and modeled after — mizu (water) from the southern Japanese Alps mountains epitomizing the subtle elegance of Japanese traditional sweets.
The spherical mochi is transparent and can fit into the palm of one’s hand like a larger-than-life drop of water. The cake might look like water, but it certainly isn’t flavorless. Melting in your mouth, the honey-like flavor is complemented by a splash of black sugar syrup and a generous helping of kinako (roasted soybean flour) that adds a slightly nutty flavor to top it all off.
The overtly simple design of the dessert that’s nicknamed “raindrop cake” might come as a surprise considering that there is always a line out the door to get it, but after further inspection, its unique draw becomes clear. Cutting into the cake is like breaking the delicate surface tension of pure H20 and any movement of the dish resembles a dew droplet at dawn.
Kinseiken opened in 1909, and its dark wooden exterior, having gracefully aged over time, gives a glimpse into an era of Japan long since past. The shop, which is one of the two main Kinseiken Confectionary Co. stores, offers the specialty for only part of the year, but they also have seasonal delights.
Each visit will also lead to new discoveries because the wagashi gracefully highlights themes of the changing seasons, and are often shaped, colored and flavored to reflect nature. They make take the form of roses and hydrangeas or fruits such as an apple, etc.
Before you go
The mizu shingen mochi are available only on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays from June until the end of September. Due to its popularity, only 300 tickets are given out each day to eat the mizu shingen mochi. It is advised to come early — before noon — to secure a ticket. Each dessert costs ￥500 and comes with a glass of cold green tea.