You can eat mochi (Japanese rice cake) almost everywhere in Japan, but have you ever eaten it made by the fastest mochi pounders in the country? In the center of the city of Nara is a famous mochi shop, where dozens of visitors flock to daily. Nakatanidou’s pride and popularity are their impressive mochi-pounding process, a tradition called Japanese mochitsuki. They make mochitsuki daily at the shop, making hundreds of fresh and warm mochi pieces from the smash.
Nakatanidou’s characteristics are yomogi mochi. Yomogi is a Japanese wild plant also known as mugwort, and gives natural green mochi and a refreshing taste.
As soon as a giant green mound was thrown into a wooden mortar, that was when the excitement increased. Customers and passers-by form a crowd in front of the store, where mochi makers get ready with big walnuts. Skilled workers are so experienced that they perform rapid purging mochi in a motion blur without ever losing their mark, ending each swing of heavy weights with a shout. Nakatanidou continued to win the high speed mochitsuki national championship in 2005 and 2006; Since then they have become a popular destination to witness this thrilling show. Mochitsuki is done about once every half hour, or when the store owner notices a large crowd starting to form.
The anime mochitsuki is not just for the show. The result of the pounding is soft, rub yumogi mochi, wrapped manually with kinako (roasted soy flour) before serving customers. Inside each mochi is a filling of red beans. The sweetness and salt texture of red beans complements the yomogi flavor, a pleasant flavor that is unique to traditional Japanese confectionery. Each product sells for 130 yen, a small price to pay for an extraordinary experience of food that is both visually interesting and delicious.
Although the yomogi mochi is Nakatanidou’s star, the store also sells crackers in a variety of flavors from grilled seaweed to Japanese basil to soy sauce. Everything is light and easy to carry in your hand, a perfect snack as you explore the surrounding streets and parks of the city of Nara. Within walking distance are popular tourist spots like Nara Park, so Nakatanidou will be a good stop on your sightseeing itinerary.