If you like some excitement with your food, look no further! At Nakatanidou you can witness the traditional art of making mochi (sticky rice cake) at breakneck speed by some of the nation’s fastest rice pounders.
This famous mochi shop is located in the heart of Nara City, and specializes in yomogi mochi. These are green rice cakes made with Japanese mugwort, filled with anko – a sweet red paste made from azuki beans – and dusted with kinako (roasted and sweetened soybean flour).
It’s not only the rice snack itself that draws the crowds, however, but also the process by which these sweet treats are made.
The current owner, Mitsuo Nakatani, has been running the store for about 25 years. He and his staff use the traditional mochitsuki pounding method to turn glutinous sticky rice into a stretchy, smooth paste which is then used to make the rice cake.
First the mixture is pounded with kine, or mallets, before the real excitement begins. One worker keeps pounding with the mallet at a much faster pace, while Nakatani dives in and mixes the paste by hand in between hits. Using shouts to keep their rhythm, they never miss a beat — and Nakatani’s hands always emerge unscathed!
The speed at which they work is phenomenal — so fast that they won the national championships for mochitsuki in both 2005 and 2006.
Once you’ve watched the mochi-pounding spectacle, it’s time to sample the finished product. The mochi is served so fresh that it’s still warm, deliciously chewy and unbelievably soft. There’s no better way to sample this traditional Japanese treat!