Mar. 13, 2023 UPDATE
The shrines and temples of Kyoto and their traditional Japanese sweets!
Part 4

Imamiya Shrine and aburimochi

Imamiya Shrine is in northern Kyoto, and the shrine is well-known as a place where you can pray for marriage luck, but also for their aburimochi – little pieces of rice cake grilled over charcoals and then dipped in a sweet white miso sauce. Most Japanese people buy these little sweets after a visit to the shrine, but recently many foreigners also try this specialty of Imamiya Shrine. There is a little bit of saltiness in the sweet aburimochi, and it’s hard to stop eating them once you have your first one. This famous sweet is something you definitely have to try when you go visit Imamiya Shrine in Kyoto, this ancient capital of Japan!
Imamiya Shrine
Imamiya Shrine
Imamiya Shrine is located in the Murasakino part of Kyoto, and the shrine was established over a thousand years ago to reign in the pestilences ravaging Kyoto. The history of the shrine dates back to the year 994, and the shrine is also a host to many famous festivals. The shrine is also famous because of the story of Otama, who lived close to the shrine as the daughter of a grocer, but later became a concubine of the shogun of Japan. This is why the shrine is known as a place where you can pray for good marriage luck.
If you want to do something special at the shrine, you can pat this rock known as the stupid rock or Ahokashi in Japanese. If you pet the rock, it is said that your wishes will come true.
Imamiya Shrine has been known for their aburimochi ever since the Edo period, and these sticky rice cakes on bamboo sticks are very fragrant after they have been grilled on charcoal.
These grilled sticky rice cakes and their white miso dip are something many people can’t get enough of. This historic sweet is something everyone going to Imamiya Shrine should try at least once. One portion of them is 500 yen, but the history behind this sweet makes the price easily worth it.
The Imamiya Matsuri of the shrine is a famous festival that takes place in May when the locals all gather to the shrine to pray for a year free of sickness. Of course, because of the story of Otama, the shrine is also a popular place among young women. When compared to other Japanese sweets, the taste of the aburimochi is more refined – as expected of a sweet which has been eaten around this area for hundreds of years.
Many shrines and temples in Kyoto have a sweet associated with that place of worship, and like their counterparts, they also usually have a very long history. These local specialties are very traditional, and they are an epitome of the long and ancient history of Kyoto. When in Kyoto, don’t only have matcha, but also try some of the shrine and temple sweets when you go see these places!

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