Mitarashi Dango

May 15, 2017

by Yu Nakabayashi and Nanae Uchida

Mitarashi dango is Japanese sweet made of mochi with mitarashi sauce. Mochi is a soft and sticky white-colored food made from rice that is steamed, kneaded and shaped. Mitarashi sauce is a slightly sticky golden-colored sauce with a mix of sweet and salty taste. It made from soy sauce, sugar, water and starch. The shaped mochi is placed on a bamboo skewer and is grilled over charcoal to make the surface of the mochi a little bit burnt (see photo). This creates a wonderful smell. Mitarashi dango is very popular and low priced, usually 100 to 150 yen (about one dollar) for three mitarashi dango. People of all ages love mitarashi dango in Japan.

Where to Get Mitarashi Dango

Mitarashi Dango

Mitarashi Dango at a Convenience Store

Today, we can easily get Mitarashi Dango anywhere in Japan, such as in supermarkets, convenience stores, or cafés. There are even shops in shopping malls that specialize in Japanese sweets using mochi. However, there are differences in quality and between at the dango sold in convenience stores and those sold in the specialty shops in Kyoto. You should be aware of the quality difference before forming an opinion of mitarashi dango.

Features of Mitarashi Dango

Most mitarashi dango at convenience stores and supermarkets is sold as a pack of three dango with bamboo skewers. Also, the sauce is a little bit sticky; not so smooth. On the other hand, the mitarashi dango sold in specialty shops in Kyoto has several differences. First of all, each dango is smaller, and is sold in a pack of five with bamboo skewers. Also, the sauce is smoother and not so sticky. This is probably due to the fact that supermarket dango is made to be easy to carry and store. However, from historical point of view, five small dango with bamboo skewers is original way.

History of Mitarashi Dango

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Dango on Bamboo Skewer.

The famous origin of mitarashi dango is connected with the Shimogamo shrine. This name, Mitarashi Dango, comes from the Mitarashi Festival, which is held at Shimogamo shrine. As mitarashi dango is made up of five dango with bamboo skewers, there are two theories about the origin of this shape. The first theory is that the shape of the dango is based on bubbles in the Mitarashi pond at the shrine. After one bubble rose, four more bubbles came up to the surface of the water. That is why one dango is stabbed at the head of the bamboo skewer, leaving space for other four dango. The other theory is that mitarashi dango represents the human form: four dango for the body and the fifth for the human head.

Differences Between Now and Then

These days, the mitarashi dango you buy at convenience stores or supermarkets is different from the traditional version in taste and appearance. In order to ship it around Japan and sell it on a mass scale, the expiration date must be lengthened. For this reason, supermarket dango comes in packs of three dango and contains more sugar. Traditional mitarashi dango expires within a day, so it is important to eat it fresh. It tastes more like a Japanese food than a sweet due to the flavor of soy sauce. Therefore, people used to eating supermarket mitarashi dango might not like traditional version as much.

Where to Get Mitarashi Dango in Kyoto

There are several places where you can find high quality Mitarashi Dango in Kyoto. The most famous one is near Shimogamo shrine, the place of origin of Mitarashi Dango. You can also make your own Mitarashi Dango at some places in Kyoto.

To eat:Kamo Mitarashi Chaya

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Kamo Mitarashi Chaya

Although you cannot actually buy mitarashi dango at the Simogamo shrine itself, you can get it at a nearby cafe, called Kamo Mitarashi Chaya. It is only a minute’s walk from the shrine. This is a very old Japanese cafe, where you can find original style, fresh mitarashi dango (with five dango) and other food made from mochi. In addition to eating it there, you can also get it to go. It’s said that this is the birthplace of mitarashi dango. Not only is the food delicious, but the atmosphere is pleasing. Not only is it a very traditional place, but it is also a comfortable, modest space where you can experience the old Japanese style. We highly recommend a visit.

Access: Take the Kyoto City Bus #205, alight at Shimogamojinja-mae and walk about 10minutes

Address: 53 Shimogamo Matsunokicho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto 606-0816, Kyoto Prefecture

Phone Number: +81 75-791-1652

To make:Yatsuhashian to Sishuyakata

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You can make your own Mitarashi Dango by yourself

If you want to try to make your own mitarashi dango, then you can go to Yatsuhashian to Sishuyakata. There, you can try to make several kinds of Japanese sweets from scratch, including mitarashi dango. You can experience the entire process of making mitarashi dango, from the mochi to the syrup and to the grilling process. Of course, when it’s all done, you can eat it, too. It is sure to taste much better when you make it by yourself.

Access: Take the Kyoto City Bus #73, alight at Nishikyogoku and walk about 8minutes

Take the Kyoto City Bus #205, alight at Saidaiji-shijyo and walk about 15minutes

Address:36 Nishikyōgoku Nishikoromodechō, Ukyō-ku, Kyōto-shi, Kyōto-fu 615-0877

Phone number: +81 75-313-2151

Cafe Buzz

da Rikako Ono & Yurika Kusano

Il Cafe Buzz è un locale specializzato in shiratama-dango. Prima vi  vogliamo parlare di shiratama-dango e wa-sanbon, che si usa sempre in questo negozio, poi vi presentiamo il menu.

Shiratama-dango

Shiratama-dango sono gnocchi di farina di riso. La farina per shiratama è un tipo di farina di riso, fatta con il riso che si usa per la farina dei mochi, seguendo però un diverso processo di lavorazione.

Come si fa la farina dei mochi

Si lava con l’acqua il riso per mochi, si fa asciugare, poi si macina e si fa seccare.

Come si fa la farina per shiratama

Si lava con l’acqua il riso per mochi, lo si mette a bagno nell’acqua, si macina il riso nell’acqua, lo si fa andare a fondo, e poi si fa seccare. Si macina poi ancora più finemente per ottenere la farina e lo si fa seccare.

In confronto alla farina per mochi, la farina per shiratama richiede più tempo di lavorazione. Quindi questi gnocchi di riso cotti a vapore diventano molto lisci. La farina per shiratama si è diffusa in Giappone durante l’epoca Edo, quando anche la gente del popolo è diventata capace di comprare alimentari prima rari come lo zucchero e la marmellata di fagioli azuki.

Wa-sanbon

“Wa-sanbon” è una specie di zucchero che si produce tradizionalmente, sopratutto nelle prefetture di Kagawa e di Tokushima, ecc. Lo zucchero originariamente importato dalla Cina si chiamava kara-sanbon (zucchero cinese), e quindi quando si cominciò a produrlo anche in Giappone lo si chiamò wa-sanbon, cioè “zucchero giapponese”.

Processo di lavorazione:

La materia prima di wa-sanbon è la canna da zucchero, in particolare un tipo chiamato chikuto (letteralmente “zucchero di bambù). Dopo che si è spremuta la canna da zucchero raccolta a fine autunno, si neutralizza il succo ottenuto facendolo reagire con la calce, poi lo si filtra e lo si fa cristallizzare. Si impasta il prodotto che risulta, chiamato shiroshitato, con acqua in un vassoio, e lo si macina finemente per ottenere i grani di zucchero (questo processo si chiama togi). In seguito si mette lo zucchero in un tessuto di lino, lo si depone in un’apposito contenitore chiamato oshibune (un tipo di imbarcazione, ma si può tradurre letteralmente come “vascello per comprimere”), dove viene compattato con dei pesi. Il processo è ripetuto alcune volte, a alla fine lo zucchero viene fatto seccare per una settimana, dopodiché il prodotto è completo.

Il nome wa-sanbon deriva deriva dal fatto che la lavorazione chiamata togi viene fatta tre volte su un vassoio (sanbon significa letteralmente “tre vassoi”). Tuttavia recentemente sia togi sia il compattamento con oshibune si fanno più di cinque volte per aumentare la bianchezza del prodotto.

Grazie a questo processo di lavorazione, wa-sanbon ha una grana simile allo zucchero in polvere, una dolcezza non eccessiva e un buon retrogusto. Ma siccome, oltre a richiedere una lavorazione lunga e complessa, lo si produce solo nei periodi di bassa tempuratura, wa-sanbon è considerato un prodotto di lusso.

Il menu di Cafe Bazz

Il menu

In questa foto si vede tè verde in polvere e dango con kazari-e. Il tè non è molto amaro e si beve senza problemi. I piatti con cui si servono i prodotti sono decorati con un disegno fatto con lo zucchero wa-sanbon, che rappresenta una scena tipica della Kyoto tradizionale. Questi disegni si chiamano Kyo-kazari-e (“disegni ornamentali di Kyoto”).
In questa foto si vede Il dango spalmato di wa-sanbon. Anche se è un peccato, il dango si deve mangiare spalmato nello zucchero della decorazione.Ci sono anche piatti senza kazari-e, ma vi raccomandiamo vivamente di scegliere quelli decorati!
zuppa di fagioli rossi In questa foto si vede shiruko, la zuppa di fagioli rossi dolci con shiratama-dango, servita in un piatto con un kazari-e che rappresenta una maiko (vedi sotto), e con contorno di tsukemono (ortaggi in salamoia tradizionali) tipici di Kyoto.
Questo locale è uno dei preferiti dalle maiko, le giovani geishe di Kyoto, e alla parete sono appesi ventagli usati dalle maiko come biglietti da visita. Non mancate di contemplare questa scena tipica della Kyoto tradizionale!
Inoltre nel locale c’è un angolo dove sono esposti vari oggetti ornamentali fatti a mano, come ad esempio pendagli, tazze da tè verde in polvere ecc. Il tè verde in polvere (maccha) del locale si puòbere in queste tazze.

Accesso

Ci sono 28 posti a sedere, e il personale può comunicare in inglese con gli stranieri. Non c’è parcheggio, ed è vietato fumare in tutto il locale.

INDIRIZZO: Gojobashihigashi 6-538-37, Higashiyamaku, Kyotoshi 605-0846

TELEFONO: 075-525-0100

ACCESSO: Si prende l’autobus numero 100 dalla stazione JR di Kyoto, si scende alla fermata di Gojozaka e si cammina per 7 minuti. Oppure si scende alla stazione di Kiyomizugojoeki della linea ferroviaria Keihan di Keihandentetsu e si cammina per 13 minuti.

ORARIO DI APERTURA: 10.30-18.00 (Quando shiratama-dango è esaurito il negozio chiude.)

GIORNO DI CHIUSURA: martedì

Les gâteaux de Kyôto “kyogashi”

de Seika Kitade et de Hiroki Ikeda

 

Il y a beaucoup de gâteaux japonais originaires de Kyôto. On les appelle les «kyogashi» (京菓) : Kyo de Kyôto et gashi veut dire gâteau.

A l’époque Edo (1603-1867), des pâtissiers  ont imaginé plusieurs pâtisseries japonaises à déguster avec du thé vert en hommage à l’empereur du moment. Mais, les gâteaux de Kyôto, ce n’était pas seulement un gâteau réservé aux nobles, c’était aussi un gâteau destiné aux gens du pays, par exemple : le gâteau de riz pilé appelé «mochi»,  le «dango», une boulette de ce même riz pilé, et le «manju», gâteau fourré de pâte de haricots rouges.

Chaque gâteau est très simple et très bon. Normalement, on déguste ces gâteaux avec du thé vert, on ne boit pas de café ni d’autre thé mais maintenant c’est possible dans plusieurs salons de thé. La plupart des Japonais pensent que manger les gâteaux de Kyôto avec du thé vert est la meilleure combinaison et nous aussi, nous pensons cela aussi.

 

On trouve beaucoup de magasins qui proposent ces pâtisseries traditionnelles à côté des temples et des sanctuaires. En voici quelques exemples.

Le sanctuaire shinto de Fushimi Inari

Il est célèbre pour son gâteau en forme de tête de renard (le renard est l’emblème du temple) qui ressemble à une fouace.

célèbres toriis au sanctuaire shinto Fushimi Inari

 

gâteau en forme de tête de renard

                                                      

 

Le sanctuaire Kamigamo jinja

Il est connu pour son gâteau à base de riz fourré de pâte de haricots rouges.

 

yakimochi, gâteau fait à base de riz, fourré de pâte de haricots rouges

 

dans le sanctuaire Kamigamo jinja

 

entrée du sanctuaire Kamigamo jinja

 

 

présentoire de gâteaux divers

 

 

magasin de souvenirs où l'on trouve ces gâteaux

 

Le sanctuaire Yoshida est connu comme le haut lieu de la pâtisserie traditionnelle japonaise.

 

torii à l’entrée du sanctuaire Yoshida

 

Il y a environ 1 950 ans, en février de l’année 61 de l’ère Yayoi 弥生 (vers  400 av.J.-C. – 250 ap. J.-C.), l’empereur Suinin a demandé à Tajimamori, fils d’un prince coréen qui est venu vivre au Japon et qui a obtenu la nationalité japonaise, d’aller dans les pays du sud, en Chine du sud et en Asie du sud-est, en Inde pour rapporter des mandarines. On disait que c’était l’endroit de l’Utopie, sans âge et où l’on ne meurt pas ! Probablement, l’empereur Suinin rêvait d’une vie éternelle. On dit que ce fruit serait à l’origine des gâteaux traditionnels japonais. Tajimamori a été déifié comme le dieu des gâteaux dans le sanctuaire Kaso qui se trouve dans le sanctuaire Yoshida.

 

dans le sanctuaire Kaso

 

 

 

Comment aller au sanctuaire Yoshida ?

Depuis la gare de Kyôto (京都), prendre le bus 206 de la ville de Kyôto (les bus verts) en direction de Kitaôji bus terminal (東山通り 北大路バスターミナル), et descendre à l’arrêt Kyôdaiseimonmae, devant l’université de Kyôto (京大正門前). Ce temple se trouve à 5 minutes à pied de l’arrêt de bus en direction de l’est. Le ticket du bus coûte 220 yens.

 

Le sanctuaire Shimogamo jinja

On dit que le salon de thé Kamomitarashi est à l’origine de la boulette mitarashidango. La forme de ce gâteau a été créé en imitant une bulle apparaissant sur l’étang Mitarashi du sanctuaire Shimogamo jinja. Dans ce salon de thé, elles sont présentées en brochette de cinq. C’est un peu spécial parce que la boulette la plus haute est un peu éloignée des quatres autres. Cela représente un corps d’homme. La partie la plus haute est la tête, et les autres, les bras et les jambes. Il y a aussi une autre théorie qui dit qu’elles représentent des bulles de l’étang.

 

                              

étang Mitarashi dans le sanctuaire

 

 

dans le sanctuaire Shimogamo jinja

              

 

 

 

entrée du sanctuaire Shimogamo jinja

Comment aller au sanctuaire Shimogamo jinja ?

Depuis la gare de Kyôto (京都), prendre les bus 4 ou 205 de la ville de Kyôto en direction du temple de Kamigamo jinja (上賀茂神社) ou de Shijôkawaramachi Kitaôji bus terminal (四条河原町 北大路バスターミナル) et descendre à l’arrêt shimogamojinjamae, devant le temple Shimogamo (下賀茂神社前). Cela vous coûtera 220 yens.

 

brochettes de boulettes Mitarashi

 

salon de thé Kamomitarashi

 

Les boulettes sont faites à base de riz blanc pilé et la sauce marron que vous voyez s’appelle tare. Elle est faite avec de la sauce de soja, du sucre, de la fécule. Il y a aussi un peu de saké de cuisine (mirin). Le salon de thé Kamo mitarashi où l’on peut manger ce gâteau est très célèbre. Il se trouve près du sanctuaire.

Le temple Kitanotenmangu

Ici, on peut manger deux types de gâteaux de Kyôto : «chôgorômochi» et «awamochi». Le «mochi» est du riz bouilli pilé. Chaque 25 du mois, il y a un grand marché aux puces où l’on peut trouver ces gâteaux. A la fin de l’époque Muromachi (1336 -1573), il y avait déjà un salon de thé à côté du temple. De 1573 à 1592, Chôgorô Kawachiya qui était un simple habitant du quartier du temple Kitanotenmangu, a commencé à vendre des gâteaux faits à base de riz qui sont devenus très populaires. A cette époque-là, on trouvait des  gâteaux recouverts de pâte de haricots rouges, mais il avait innové en mettant la pâte de haricots à l’intérieur du gâteau. C’était très original. Ainsi, ce gâteau a été utilisé pour accompagner le thé vert par Hidetoshi Toyotomi, un général de l’époque Azuchi-Momoyama (1573-1603). On peut acheter et manger ces gâteaux dans ce temple.

 

magasin de chôgorômochi

 

gâteaux appelés chôgorômochi

 

«awamochi» : ce gâteau est né aussi à l’ère Muromachi. A cette époque, il a enchanté beaucoup de gens. Il est fait avec du millet (céréale jaune) parce que ce n’était pas cher donc on les faisait plus facilement que maintenant. C’est plus rare d’en manger de nos jours. Mais encore aujourd’hui, beaucoup de gens vont au temple Kitanotenmangu  pour en manger. Il y a un salon de thé où on peut les déguster. Il y a aussi le magasin Yamamoto en face du temple où on peut en acheter. Près de ce magasin, à 2 ou 3 maisons plus loin, se trouve le salon de thé Sawaya (澤屋). On nous les prépare dès la commande passée donc ils sont très frais. C’est ouvert de 9h à 17h tous les jours sauf les jeudi et 26 de chaque mois.

 

salon de thé Sawaya

 

 

gâteau awamochi

 

Comment aller à Kitanotenmangu ?

Depuis la gare de Kyôto (京都), prendre le bus 50 de la ville de Kyôto en direction de l’université de Ritsumeikan (立命館大学) ou le bus numéro 101, en direction de Kitaôji bus terminal (北大路バスターミナル) et descendre à l’arrêt Kitanotenmangumae devant le temple (北野天満宮前). Cela vous coûtera 220 yens.

 

 

bus vert de la ville de Kyôto

 

La culture du thé vert est depuis longtemps liée à la culture de Kyôto et de même pour les gâteaux de Kyôto qui sont tout aussi historiques puisqu’on les déguste avec une tasse de thé vert.

Si vous venez à Kyôto et que vous visitez des temples ou des sanctuaires, nous vous recommandons de goûter aux «kyogashi». Il y a toujours des salons de thé proches des temples. C’est une façon agréable de connaître la culture de Kyôto.

 

 

Dango Shops Near Temples & Shrines

by Miho Hattori

Have you ever eaten dango? Dango is a Japanese traditional dessert which consists of sticky-sweet dumplings made from rice cake powder (mochiko). The dumplings are usually served on wooden skewers holding between three and five dango apiece. Dango have been eaten for a long time and there are many different varieties. I will introduce you to dango shops which are near temples and shrines of the northern, southern, eastern and western areas of Kyoto. Why don’t you try dango after looking around temples and shrines?

North: Kamo Mitarashi Chaya

There are many famous temples and shrines in the northern area, for example the Kamigamo and Shimogamo shrines. The sweets shop called Kamo Mitarashi Chaya, which is located near Shimogamo Shrine, has been open since 1922. This shop is very famous for being the birthplace of mitarashi dango, so many people come here from all over the country. The shop’s dango are strangely shaped. That is, one of the five pieces is a little separate, symbolizing the head, because according to legend, mitarashi dango express the shape of the human body.

The shop’s owner is a very friendly woman. She is very particular about the water and rice powder she uses, as well as the sauce, which is mildly sweetened with brown sugar. When you come to Kyoto, she says, please try her mitarashi dango. “Even if you don’t have a sweet tooth, we can serve you mitarashi dango using soy sauce.” You can buy and eat a one-person serving of 3 skewers of dango for 400 yen, and you can also get take-out from 525 yen for 5 skewers of dango.

 
Access: About 5 minutes walk from Shimogamo Jinja-mae bus stop (Kyoto municipal bus number 205, on the route that goes to Kitaoji Bus Terminal via Shijo-Kawaramachi〉.
Address: 53 Matsunoki-cho, Shimogamo, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto.
Telephone: 075-791-1652
Open: Thursday through Tuesday from 9:30 to 20:00 〈Last order 19:30〉
Closed: Wednesdays
Capacity: 40 seats for individuals, 30 seats for group(s)

South: Momoyama Mochi

Kyoto’s southern temples and shrines are great spots to go sightseeing in an uncrowded environment. Momoyama Mochi, which is located in front of Gokougu Shrine, has been open since about 100 years ago. An old couple in their eighties runs this shop and a third owner makes the dango. This shop’s specialty is mitarashi dango which is completely handmade and has an original sweet sauce. The owner grills dango over charcoal at the shop front, so you will smell a good aroma as you approach along the street. One of the five dumplings is a little separate just like Kamo Mitarashi Chaya’s.

This shop isn’t so big but the atmosphere is cozy and traditional in many ways and it is popular with the locals. Most people drop in here on their way back from Gokougu shine. The owners laughed and asked you to “Please visit our shop and try our mitarashi. But we can’t understand English, so please take an interpreter.” Don’t worry, you can manage on your own with a few gestures! You can buy and eat skewers of dango for 80 yen each; you can also get take-out.

Access: About 5 minutes walk from Momoyamagoryomae Station (Kintetsu train line)
Address: 191 Gokougumon-mae-cho, Fushimi-ku, Kyoto
Telephone:             075-601-3395
Open: Wednesday through Sunday from 9:30 to 17:00
Closed: Mondays and Tuesdays
Capacity: about 4 people

West: Daimonjiya

Daimonjiya is located inside of Seiryo-ji Temple. The shop is famous for aburimochi with a sweet sauce made from white miso. If you haven’t had white miso, you should try this treat. Also very popular at Daimonjiya is warabimochi flavored with green tea (these unskewered dumplings are not made from rice flour but from bracken starch).
The atmosphere of this shop is very calm. And you can enjoy a Japanese-style tatami room or eat aburimochi on seating outside of the shop. In spring, you can also enjoy cherry blossoms while having aburimochi. You can buy and eat 12 aburimochi for 630 yen for one person, and you can also get take-out from 1260 yen for 2 persons. Seiryo-ji (which is a Zen Buddhist temple) is near Arashiyama, so why don’t you go to there after eating?


 

 

Access: About 5 minutes walk from Sagashakadou-mae bus stop (Kyoto municipal bus number 28, on the route to Daikaku-ji Temple)
Address: 46 Fujinoki-cho, Sagashakadou, Ukyo-ku, Kyoto
Telephone:075-872-5577
Open: From 10:00 to 16:00
Closed: Irregular
Capacity: 7 tables, and counters

East: Umezono

Umezono opened in Kyoto’s Kawaramachi area in 1927, and afterwards the Kiyomizu branch opened near the famous Kiyomizu-dera Temple. The Kawaramachi shop is small, so it is a little hard to find. The shop’s specialty is mitarashi dango which isn’t round but a little square-shaped. The owner said that the reason why this shape is useful is to dip dango into sauce. Also shaved ice is popular in summer, and awazenzai in winter, too. If you can’t read Japanese, you don’t need to worry about it because there is an English menu. And foreigners usually like a “mitarashi set,” for example, mitarashi with warabimochi or shaved ice with green tea.

The owner is a young elegant woman. She said, ”Please taste some everyday Japanese desserts in Umezono.” You can buy and eat a one-person serving of 5 skewers of dango for 410 yen, and also get take-out from 750 yen for 10 skewers of dango.

Access: About 5 minutes walk from Sanjo station (Keihan train line)
Address: 4-234 Yamazaki-cho, Sanjo-kudaru, Kawaramachi, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto
Telephone: 075-221-5017
Open: 365 days a year, from 10:30 to 19:30
Capacity: 30 people

Branch Shop Near Kiyomizu-dera Temple

Access: About 7 minutes walk from Kiyomizu-michi bus stop (Kyoto municipal bus number 206, on the route that goes to Kitaoji Bus Terminal via Higashiyama Street)
Address: 1-339 Sanneisaka, Kiyomizu, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto
Telephone: 075-531-8538
Open: 365 days a year, from 10:30 to 17:30
Capacity: 24 tables and 16 seats in Japanese-style room

When you visit Kyoto’s temples and shrines, how about trying some dango? Probably, dango will make you happy, so your trip will become more wonderful!