In Mie Prefecture, there is a famous confectionery with a history of more than 300 years called “Akafuku”. I think there are so many people who have heard about this name before. However, with such long history, how does “Akafuku” change throughout the time? This time, we will explain what is “Akafuku” in the first place.
What is Akafuku?
Akafuku Mochi (赤福餅) is a Japanese sweets product from Akafuku, a Japanese sweets shop in Ise City, Mie Prefecture. It is a rice cake confectionery and is a kind of so-called ankoro mochi. The rice cake is made by straining and wrapping it in bean paste. Japanese topped it with sweet red bean paste. Its unique shape symbolizes the Isuzu-gawa River, which flows through the precinct of Ise Jingu. Each mochi is expertly hand-pressed with the paste to form a wavelike pattern reminiscent of the Isuzu River’s ripples. This is the total opposite of traditional Wagashi, which features red bean paste inside the mochi.
The two letters of “Akafuku (赤福)” derived from “”Sekishin Keifuku (赤心慶福).” “Akashin Keifuku” means “having a heart like a baby.” It means “please rejoice in the happiness of yourself and others.” This is a word that expresses the state of mind of worshipers of Jingu. Do your best with the pure feelings of walking along with the approach to Ise.
About 300 years ago
Although the precise year Akafuku – one of the oldest mochi (Japanese rice cake) businesses still in business today – first created is unknown, the earliest document mentioning its existence comes from 1707. That alone represents more than 300 years of mochi perfection by Mie Prefecture’s famous Wagashi (Japanese confectionery) brand. However, about 300 years ago, when it was first born in 1707, the bean jam used in Akafukumochi was salty.
Locals believed that Akafukumochi originated from the fact that Japanese sold its products with ankoro-mochi and tea in an effort to treat visitors to Ise. At that time, visiting Ise was a long trip on foot or by horse, so for those who were exhausted after arriving, the salty Akafukumochi was probably a meal that they could eat a lot.
The Empress Shoken’s taste
Since locals ate the Akafukumochi like what they now call fast food, it became a unique shape to serve customers more quickly. Akafukumochi, which started with salted bean paste, changed to brown sugar bean paste in the mid-18th century in the Edo period. Then, it became the mainstream for about 200 years.
However, a change came in 1911, when Empress Shoken (Emperor Meiji’s Empress) visited Ise Shrine, she ordered to serve Akafukumochi. At that time, Akafukumochi was with bean jam and white sugar, and her attendant added a strong brown sugar flavor to suit the taste of the Empress. With this, locals sold this to the public under the name of “Homare Akafuku,” it quickly became very popular.
|Ingredients of Akafuku for 8 person|
|Red bean paste||180g|
How to make Akafuku mochi?
Firstly, put water and sugar in the cut rice cake and microwave for 90 to 120 seconds. Then, mix the sugar well while reapplying the rice cake.
Then, divide into 8 pieces and then roll it with a little water. Next, take the bean paste with a spoon soaked in water, put the mochi on it, and entangle the bean paste.
Arrange the bean paste on a plate with a butter knife.
When entwining the bean paste, it is easier to rub the bean paste with two spoons. It is the point of the truffle.
What are the various akafuku products?
Akafuku Tsuitachi Mochi
Tsuitachi Mochi is sold only at directly managed stores on the 1st of every month except January.
Akafuku Hojicha Tea Bag
It is an “Ise tea” from Mie prefecture locals grow organically and blended to match Akafuku mochi.
Akafuku’s summer cool “Akafuku Gori or Ice”. This is a summer-only product with red bean paste and mochi inside. They shaved ice with matcha honey.
For customers who come to Akafuku’s shop in the cold, the Akafuku Zenzai, which is only available in winter, is available.
What is Akafuku’s famous Tsuitachi Mochi?
Do you know that there is “Tsuitachi Mochi” that you can buy only on the 1st of every month at such “Akafuku”? In Ise, there is a custom of visiting Ise Jingu on the 1st of every month. This is to get up early at the beginning of the month, and be grateful for having a safe month, and pray for the safety of the new month. Among them, Akafuku’s “Tsuitachi Mochi” is especially famous. It’s so popular that you should get in line early in the morning, and it may sell out before 7 am at the earliest.
What’s inside Akafuku Mochi?
It’s no surprise that the main ingredient of Akafuku Gori is the world-famous Akafukumochi. This confectionery rice cake can be enjoyed as it is. Although Akafukumochi is a popular souvenir among Ise visitors, take note to only buy the right amount that can be consumed immediately. No preservative for longer shelf life is added that is why it expires in just two days. This is strictly implemented to ensure that the natural flavor and color of the mochi are both retained.
Akafukumochi is divided into sweet bean paste and rice cake itself. The ingredients of sweet bean paste consist of azuki beans from Hokkaido and two types of sugar. As for the rice cake, it is from mochi rice that is specially produce within Japan only and exclusively supplied to Akafuku.
Another distinct quality of Akafukum
ochi is its design. The three ridges pattern of this wagashi is carefully molded by the hands of artisans. While the rice cake beneath the sweet bean paste symbolizes the pebbles lying on the side of the Isuzu River.
Where to buy Akafuku?
Akafuku directly managed stores
Akafuku (赤福) is a Japanese pastry shop founded in 1707, during the Edo period. It is still active and family-owned and they have multiple branches or stores all around Ise City in Japan. Here are some of those branches.
Main Store (本店)
Isuzugawa Store (赤福 五十鈴川店)
Sotomiyamae Store (外宮前店)
Futami Branch (二見支店)
If you do not want to get out of your house to eat at any of their branches/stores, you can easily deliver it to your home. Akafuku also has their own online shop where you can also get their goods. Check them out here.
Akafuku mochi has been a favorite of Japanese people for a long time and is widely enjoyed around the county today. So if you have a plan to go on a sightseeing trip to local areas of Japan, you could find sweets similar to Akafuku Mochi. Some of Mie’s prefectural specialty dishes are Matsusaka beef, Ise Udon, Tenmusu, and Akafuku Gori.
Thus, you can check Akafuku’s official website for more details and updates. Click Here.