Every year on May 5th, Japan celebrates Children’s Day (kodomo no hi). On this occasion, people here eat a special treat called kashiwa mochi. It’s made up of a soft gooey rice cake that’s folded over a ball of sweet red bean paste filling. The whole thing is then wrapped in an oak leaf, which is not only beautiful but it also gives the mochi cake a very pleasant aroma.
I’ve had kashiwa mochi before in the past, but I usually get them from regular grocery stores. As it turns out, these are totally different from the real traditional kashiwa mochi. (Although I still love the common store-bought ones, too hehe.)
When I was walking home the other evening, I passed by a discrete little sweet shop tucked far back off the side of the road. The place looked really old, and it was so quiet and still that I thought it was closed. But here’s what caught my eye when I peeked through the window…one final remaining tray of kashiwa mochi. Real ones.
Everything else had been sold out for the day, and these were the only sweets they had left in the little shop. Lucky me! I didn’t think twice before buying one because these are such a precious find. They were fairly cheap, too, at just 90 yen each.
Compared to the pre-packaged kashiwa mochi in regular stores, these ones were extremely soft and sticky. They’re more delicate and I felt like the mochi might tear apart just by peeling off the oak leaf. You could tell that the mochi was made simply from pounded rice and nothing else. No sweeteners, no flour, no preservatives…just good old rice. The red bean paste filling also had a distinct flavor, which makes me think that they must make it themselves in the shop instead of buying it in ready-made packages. I’m really glad that I was lucky enough to catch the last kashiwa mochi of the day.
I asked the lady there, and apparently the sweet shop has been in operation for eighty years! I’m definitely going to stop in again next time I pass by.