Itojyu Umoregi wagashi (いと重菓舗・埋れ木)
Yum! Wagashi, the traditional confections of Japan.
We love the little towns and villages near Kyoto, one in particular is Hikone, on the north-east shore of Lake Biwa. Towns like Hikone are a great day trip or one night stop. About an hour from Kyoto by train, picturesque Hikone has one of the oldest castles in Japan and a beautifully restored jyokamachi (城下町, castle town).
In the jyokamachi is Itojyu, a Japanese confectionary shop with a nearly 200 year history (founded in 1809).
We purchased a box of the Itojyu Umoregi wagashi. The subtlety and complexity of this confectionary makes it a real gem. Also, the addition of gyuhi, used in this way, makes it a very unique creation, indeed.
The main components are maccha-wasanbon, gyuhi and shiro-an paste.
The center of the Itojyu Umoregi is a delicate and creamy yellow an paste, made from an unusual yellow azuki bean. This is covered in gyuhi, which is a very soft form of mochi. This is then covered in maccha-wasanbon powder. Wasanbon is a very delicate powdered sugar, the traditional sugar of Japan, often a main ingredient for wagashi.
Itojyu recommends that Umoregi goes well not just with maccha and Japanese teas, but also coffee! We gave it a try.
Umoregi with coffee:
K. F. PakuPaku: Great! Wow!
K. F. PekoPeko: Ahh, yeah, not bad. I guess I liked it.
Itojyu has an interesting history. The founder was a thread (ito) wholesaler and one night his wife had a dream in which an elderly white haired man told her how to make a special wagashi.
Hikone is a great town to see and can be taken in in a day. Being of the Lake Biwa region, Hikone has plenty of unique dishes to try as well as several notable ryokans if you want to stay the night.
Incidentally, Umoregi is the name of the house of a favorite son of Hikone, Ii Naosuke that was one of the signatories to the treaty with Commodore Parry (neither men are very popular with Japanese today).
Itojyu website (Japanese language only)