Have you tried mochi before? Have you eaten mochi outside of a New Year celebrations? Have you had JUST mochi as a main meal? Have you tried it with dried shrimp as a topping? You can experience all this and more in Ichinoseki. With 300 different flavors of mochi and a history that stems back to the Edo period, you are sure to find the mochi for you!
Ichinoseki and Mochi: Mochi is an important part of Japanese cuisine, and has garnered further attention from the world since Japanese cuisine was registered as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage. Although mochi is eaten mostly during New Year's celebrations, Ichinoseki and the Town of Hiraizumi have deep-rooted mochi eating traditions that go beyond New Year's and is pounded and eaten on many ceremonial occasions including marriages, funerals, coming of age and festivals. It's no wonder that this region consumes the most mochi in all of Japan. The ritual of "mochi honzen" is a formal full-course meal of mochi which is incredibly profound. For something that looks so simple, there is a deep and meaningful reason to each part of the meal. Restaurants in Ichinoseki have focused on preserving and transmitting the tradition of mochi cuisine and offer chances to experience a full-course meal of mochi.
My experience: Even though I love mochi, I had never once thought of having it as a main meal, but I thought I'd give it a shot since it's a major part of the culture here. When nine different flavors of mochi appeared before me (as well as soups, fish, chicken) I was certain there was no way that I could finish it all. I usually get full after two mochi! I was pleasantly surprised at the delicacy of each mochi serving that I tried at Sekinoichi's Kuramoto Restaurant. From sweet to salty - creamy to dry toppings, every mochi was a new discovery! The mochi was smooth and rather light. Although I struggled a little toward the end, I managed to finish off all my food. And, I also enjoyed every flavor! My top three were zunda (edamame paste), numaebi (the tiny dried shrimp) and anko (red bean paste).
It is said that on an annual calendar there are 60 opportunities to eat mochi, and even as a mochi fan, I doubt my body would be able to cope with so many calories - but I do recommend that you try this cuisine at least once in your life!
Some places you can try mochi cuisine:
Michi-no-eki Gembikei - Pettankun: http://www.ichitabi.jp/gourmet/data.php?no=29