Yamagata doesn’t enjoy the popularity of cities like Kyoto, Tokyo or Osaka. Yamagata is the capital of Yamagata Prefecture known for the Zao Ski Resort as well as Yamadera temple. Since it isn’t very well known among foreign travellers, most people don’t know what to buy when it comes to Yamagata Prefecture’s specialty products or souvenirs.
In this feature, we talk about our top three picks for your Yamagata trip.
Deka-Kintsuba (でか金つば) from Anchin-do (あんちん堂)
The first thing on our list is the Deka-kintsuba from Anchin-do.
Kintsuba is a commonly found traditional Japanese sweet that is not unique to Yamagata Prefecture yet it is barely known outside of Japan. The process of making kintsuba is quite unique. A sweetened red bean paste (tsubuan) is shaped into cubes, then coated in a thin layer of wheat flour dough and seared on an iron or copper girdle on all sides.
The kintsuba of Anchin-do in Yamagata are particularly famous. Each piece is solid and heavy. The six sides are carefully baked one by one.
In addition, there are plenty of flavors when it comes to the coating. You can try matcha, edamame, sunda and more.
The sweet bean paste is chunky and anyone who loves tsubuan will love this treat.
The matcha-flavored coating has a mild bitterness, which goes very well with the sweet filling.
The sweet paste with a sticky texture of the coating is unbelievably comforting.
Kitsune-men (きつねめん) from Tsuruoka Kimuraya (つるおか木村屋)
Tsuruoka Kimuraya was founded in 1887 and has a long history. Kitsune-men are one of the most adorable sweets you will see in Japan.
Kitsune is a fox and as you can see, the sweet features fox faces.
Kitsune-men’s much-loved simple taste is characterized by the rich sweetness of brown sugar and earthiness of adzuki beans.
Each consists of five fox faces and you can break them up into five pieces. Feel free to share it with friends.
Kokyo (古鏡) from Tsuruoka Kimuraya (つるおか木村屋)
The next item is also from Tsuruoka Kimuraya. A time-honored classic, Kokyo has a really interesting story.
Several cultural relics and ancient mirrors have been unearthed near Tsuruoka dating back to the Heian, Kamakura, and mid-Edo periods. Of these, over a 100 have been designated as important cultural properties. Kokyo means old mirror and the name was chosen to represent these historical mirrors.
What makes kokyo special is the layer of mochi in its center. The outer layer is red bean paste.
Th mochi is made using the same recipe since the store opened in 1887. It’s a nostalgic flavor that is appreciated by many.
The three sweets mentioned above are perfect to buy as souvenirs for friends or family. If you love sweets, how about buying some of these for yourself. Although not popular, Yamagata prefecture has some amazing spots to enjoy the Japanese countryside.
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