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Umegae Mochi: Traditional Sweets in Japan

Invented in the town of Dazaifu, Umegae Mochi is a kind of sweet dumpling filled with red bean paste and wrapped in mochi – rice cake. This traditional kind of sweet dumpling is best eaten hot off the grill.

Umegae is a traditional Japanese mochi in Fukuoka
Source : Yokamon Ichiba

 

The Origins of the Name Umegae Mochi

Although the name translates as “plum rice dumpling”, umegae mochi is not plum flavoured. The name comes from a legend about Sugawara no Michizane, a scholar in the Heian Period who is now seen as the god of learning. The story goes that a plum tree he loved in Kyoto flew to Dazaifu when Sugawara no Michizane was sent there. Umegae mochi has become one of the most popular local foods in Fukuoka Prefecture, and is rarely available in other parts of Japan.

Umegae Japanese mochi are wrapped in cellophane when bought in Fukuoka
Umegae mochi are wrapped in cellophane when you buy.

 

Dazaifu Specialty: Taste Testing the Sweets

Umegae mochi is a speciality of Dazaifu, an area also famous for its shrine popular for students and teachers. On the street leading up to the shrine – Dazaifu Tenmangu – you can find a variety of local shops, many of them selling umegae mochi. Dazaifu is easy to access by bus or train from Fukuoka City. By train you can reach Dazaifu on the Nishitetsu Line. It takes around 25 minutes with one transfer. From the station, the main street leading to the shrine is just a minute walk away. From here you have a selection to choose from, though they use the same basic recipe. You can try some from different shops and compare them! As well as being able to try umegae mochi, a quick trip to Dazaifu also gives you a chance to see some traditional culture and beautiful scenery.

you can try this traditional Japanese mochi in Fukuoka shops

 

Where Else Can You Find Umegae Mochi?

While Dazaifu is the best place to try this local speciality, you can also try it in Fukuoka city. There are shops selling it in big stations like Hakata, and official branches of the main umegae mochi store are in areas like Gion and Ohorikoen. You even can buy it on the train platform at Hakata Station. During any festival in Fukuoka there is a stall selling it, usually with long queues due to its popularity. In some gift shops, including Canal City, you can buy them fresh on weekends and holidays, or boxes of them frozen on other days. Frozen mochi can be heated up in the microwave.

Umegae is a traditional Japanese mochi in FukuokaFrozen boxes of sweet Umegae mochi

 

What to Expect and Where to Buy Umegae Mochi

The sweets are normally sold fresh of the grill, still hot. You can buy them in packs, or just buy one and eat it fresh. One mochi costs just ¥108. The mochi has a different texture to rice dumplings, with a slightly crispy coating from the grill. There is a motif of an apricot flower on the dumpling, and it is filled with red bean paste. Delicious eaten hot, you may have to queue up to buy since it is very popular among local people as well as tourists. Even if you aren’t keen on the taste of red beans, please give this a try! This is a kind of traditional recipe that is rare outside of Fukuoka and has a deep history connected with the area.

Want to try some Umegae mochi yourself? Check out the recommended store below for this delicious sweet.

    
Name Kasa no ya
Category Japanese sweets restaurant
Address 818-0117, Fukuoka-ken, Dazaifu-shi, Saifu, 2 Chome-7-24
Access [map]818-0117, Fukuoka-ken, Dazaifu-shi, Saifu, 2 Chome-7-24[/map]
Opening Hours 9:00-18:00
Price Range 120 yen per dumpling : Green tea set 650 yen
Payment options
Lauren Lewis

Lauren Lewis

I'm from the UK and I've lived in Kyushu since 2011, four years in Saga and now in Fukuoka City. I love living here and look forward to sharing some of what it has to offer!

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