Even among Kyoto’s many historic shops, Ichimonjiya Wasuke, which has been in operation for more than a thousand years, stands out. Reportedly, the original founder started his business by serving roasted rice cakes, known as aburi-mochi, to those who visited the nearby Imamiya Shrine. In that time of famine and plague, it was believed that offering bamboo skewers to the gods there would offer protection from diseases.
At Ichiwa, as the confectionery is affectionately known, aburi-mochi is the only offering on the menu. Almost unchanged from the bygone past, the rice cakes are made by the matriarch of the 25th generation of the founder’s descendants. They are first seasoned with kinako, or ground soybeans, and then roasted and dressed with a sweet sauce of white miso.
Ichiwa’s current building is a compound of multiple wooden houses, the oldest one dating to the late-17th century and the newest one to the Taisho era, around the turn of the 20th century. Inside is a well dating all the way back to the Middle Ages, well before the age of the samurai, from which water used to be drawn to make rice cakes. Though it is not in use for sanitary reasons today, its presence gives the place a certain feeling of historic grandeur.
Know Before You Go
Open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., closed on Wednesdays. One order of aburi-mochi will bring 13 skewers of bite-sized rice cake to the table for 500 yen. Right across the street from Ichiwa is its longtime rival Kazariya, a 400-year-old confectionery also serving aburi-mochi, so be careful not to confuse the two shops.