- February 25 2016
Another fun attraction of Ise Grand Shrine! Eating and strolling on Okage Yokocho Alley! (First part)
I’m totally enjoying the visit to Ise Grand Shrine.
I already wrote about visiting Ise Grand Shrine in my previous article ‘Japan’s Most Important Shrine: Ise Jingu Visit!’. So, this article is about eating and strolling around Oharai Machi and Okage Yokocho Alley.
‘Oharai Machi’/’Okage Yokocho’ is the area standing on the Ise Pilgrimage road for Ise Grand Shrine in Edo and Meiji Period. The area flourished as pilgrims’ rest spots and has developed many restaurants and souvenir shops. It is such a wonderful area that you can stroll up and down trying some of the best known Mie Prefectural gourmet food.
The first stop: Amazake at Hakutaka Miyake Shouten
After Ise Grand Shrine, this is where we first stopped…Hakutaka Miyake Shouten.
This is the only shop in this area that is allowed to sell the dedicated sake to Ise Grand Shrine.
They have a drinking booth as well as a sales counter, so it was crowded with many mid-aged men.
Unfortunately, being a driver on the day, I couldn’t drink the sake. So, I decided to try Amazake instead.
Amazake is a traditional rice based drink, which is sweet and think. People often drink it in the New Year or for festivals. It’s even compared as a drinkable intravenous (IV) drip for its rich nourishment.
It is perfect as a winter supplement.
If you prefer, you can add some grated ginger when you drink it.
Amazake here is ¥200 for a cup.
It smells fantastic. It’s made only from glutinous rice and Koji, rice malt. So, there is nothing artificial but has natural aroma. No sugar is added, but the sweetness is certainly there. It really goes well with the smell of ginger.
The subtle sweetness and sourness make it an authentic Japanese soft drink.
It was such a cold day, and Amazake made my body nice and warm. It’s a perfect match to eating and strolling during the cold season.
Thank you very much!
Dango from ‘Dango ya’
After feeling relaxed with Amazake, let’s keep going on our eating and strolling.
Just like old Japanese pilgrims to Ise Grand Shrine in Edo Periond, why not trying Dango, sweet dumplings. We headed to a Dango shop called ‘Dango ya’, literally meaning sweet dumpling shop.
The mouthwatering smell of grilled Dango is everywhere around, so you naturally get drawn to the shop thinking ‘I’m going to eat it!’
There is so much fun here in Oharai Machi and Okage Yokocho alley.
All the four flavors of Dango were all ¥110: Mitarashi (soy sauce based salty and sweet sauce), Kuromitsu (brown sugar syrup), pure soy sauce, Kinako (roasted soybean powder).
It’s cheap. You can even sit and eat at an old teahouse style in front of the shop.
You’d almost feel like you were a traveller in old days.
My family all made the same choice, Mitarashi Dango. It was ¥440 for four Dango skewers in total.
This salty and sweet sauce has a strong smell of soy sauce, which enhances simple but pleasant sweetness. As for Dango itself, there is a distinct grilled flavor, but it does not affect the texture of sticky and melting Dango.
It’s delicious. Eating on the spot in this atmosphere must make it more special, too.
Eating Dango as if you are travelling back in time to Edo period surely boost your travel excitement.
We polished them off in not time. Thank you for the Dango!
The third stop: The famous ‘Akafuku’
There is no way not to go to this place travelling all the way to Ise.
Yes, we next went to the ‘Akafuku Honten’ on ‘Okage Yokocho’ alley.
Akafuku is well-known Japanese sweet sticky rice cakes topped with a generous amount of smooth red bean paste. It is the most popular souvenir and every Japanese person would know its name.
You’ll see two counters in this shop, ‘Take-out’ and ‘Eat-in’. We bought 2 tickets for ‘Akafuku bon’ (¥290 for 3 sticky rice cakes).
They offer Tatami seating inside.
You can relax and enjoy the view of Isuzugawa River while tasting the supreme combo of Akafuku and Hoji tea.
I imagine many Japanese people feel this way, but I always stop here when I visit Ise. Somehow, I feel like I must do so before heading back home (LOL).
You just need to hold onto your tickets, and they will deliver your Akafuku to you.
Our feet were tired from walking around quite a distance and it was cold outside…So, we really appreciated the warmth inside the shop!
I wish I could observe the making of Akafuku, but it seemed to have finished for the day.
It is interesting to see how to make the red bean paste for Akafuku, too.
Eventually, our Akafuku and Hoji tea set arrived.
For pilgrims who travelled a long distance, it must have been so impressive when they finally stopped to rest and had a bite of sweets here. Even modern people like us even feel the same way.
It has a simple flavor but nothing can beat the freshly made Akafuku! I bet you ‘d like to try one staring at this picture, wouldn’t you? (LOL)
This is the end of the first part of my blog.
Please read the second half ‘Another fun attraction of Ise Grand Shrine! Eating and strolling on Okage Yokocho alley! (Second part)’ as well!