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Photo By: Christian Kadluba
Region
Kansai
Island
Honshu
Largest City
Nara
Population
1,442,862

Nakatanidou Mochi Shop

The fastest mochi pounders in town!

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!

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Things To Know

Hours and details

Nakatanidou is open from 10am-7pm. The shop front opens directly on to the street so you don’t need to worry about seating or reservations. One mochi costs ¥130, and payment is cash only. You can also buy them in larger boxes, and if you buy a pack of 8 or more the price per mochi is slightly cheaper. There are no set times for mochi pounding, but it takes place roughly every half an hour so you’re unlikely to have to wait for long (particularly if there’s a large crowd waiting!).

How To Get There

By train

You can walk to Nakatanidou from both JR Nara and Kintetsu Nara stations. From JR Nara, walk east along Sanjo Dori for about 10 minutes and the shop will be on your right before you reach Sarusawa Pond. From Kintetsu Nara walk south through the shopping arcade for about 4 minutes until you reach Sanjo Dori and the shop will be in front of you and to the left. There’s always a crowd outside, so you can’t miss it!

Where To Stay

Deer Guest House
  • Tsubaicho 36 Nara-Shi, Nara 630-8343
  • 8.6/10
  • 0.1 km
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Family Inn Nara
  • Konishi-cho 5 Arute-Kan 3F Nara-Shi, Nara 630-8226
  • 9.3/10
  • 0.1 km
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Nara Guesthouse 3F (B&B)
  • Konishicho 5 Nara-Shi, Nara 630-8226
  • 9.3/10
  • 0.1 km
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Tenpyo Ryokan
  • Higashimukinaka-cho 9 Nara-Shi, Nara 630-8215
  • 7.8/10
  • 0.2 km
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