You may recall that we introduced a very unique and delicate cake in one of our articles earlier this month — the mizu shingen mochi, which looks like a huge drop of water magically suspended in solid form. Seeing how the cake seemed to have received a good deal of attention from Japanese internet users and readers of our English site as well, we decided we needed to try the cake ourselves, and promptly sent one of our Japanese reporters to the shop in Yamanashi Prefecture where they served the surreal-looking mizu shingen mochi. So, how did the “water cake” actually look and taste?
The unusual cake made by the Kinseiken Seika Company, is a variation on the company’s trademark rice-cake confection shingen mochi, and is made from water from the Southern Japanese Alps, which they’ve solidified just enough to give it a shape.
Because the cake is so delicate, it retains its shape only for about 30 minutes once it’s served at room temperature, so in order to try the mizu shingen mochi, you have to travel to one of the two Kinseiken shops in Yamanashi Prefecture and eat it right there.
And travel we did! To taste the fascinating cake, our reporter went to the shop in Daigahara, which is in the city of Hokuto in Yamanashi. It’s not particularly convenient to access by train, so getting there by car is probably the best option, which without heavy traffic takes about two hours from Tokyo. When our reporter got to the shop a little past 11am on a Saturday, the water cake was actually sold out, so he went back the next morning before 10am. Even so, there was quite a crowd, including many guests who seemed to be from outside of Japan, and he had to wait just under an hour to get in.
▼The street that leads up to the Kinseiken shop
▼We can see the shop now.
▼There were plenty of people, even in the morning.
▼Here’s the impressive wooden sign with Kinseiken’s name …
▼ … and also the noren, or Japanese-style shop curtain.
▼The signs and display at the front of the shop were advertising both the mizu shingen mochi and the regular shingen mochi.
▼We finally get to try the water cake that we had heard so much about! It was served with a glass of green tea and cost 300 yen (US$2.95).
▼Some shots of the clear, jelly-like cake — like regular shingen mochi, the mizu shingen mochi is also eaten with kinako soybean powder and brown sugar syrup.
▼And now, to take our first bite of the cake — see how soft and jello-y it is!
▼A close-up look at a spoonful of the cake:
You can also see some scenes from our reporter’s visit to the shop in the video below. It should give you a feel of the pretty countryside where the shop is located.
So, what did our reporter think of the water cake? Well, it was very soft, and the cake itself tasted like sugar-flavored jelly, but the flavor of the kinako powder and brown sugar was quite strong and seemed to overwhelm the taste of the cake. Yes, the cake was very pretty, like a piece of crystal, but not really as remarkable as people have been raving about on the Internet. The taste was quite what any Japanese person would imagine it to be, and in fact, the regular shingen mochi might actually be tastier, so our reporter recommends you try both if you have the chance.
Oh, and the water cakes may sell out by around noon, so if you want to try them, it would probably be a good idea to get there well before then. Also, if you’re going to be traveling to Yamanashi, there are numerous hot springs and sake factories you can visit, and even the Suntory Hakushu Distillery in the vicinity, so it can make for an enjoyable trip.
So, that’s our experience making a trip to Yamanashi in search of the delicate and fleeting water cake. While it may not have quite lived up to all the hype on the Internet, we have to admit it’s still an awfully interesting cake to look at. We look forward to hopefully seeing more unique creations from Kinseiken, because it’s always nice to see traditional Japanese manufacturers come up with innovative ideas, and if that idea happens to take the form of a tasty treat, well, we certainly won’t complain!
【Kinseiken shop details】
Kinseiken Daigahara shop (which we visited):
Address: 2211 Daigahara, Hakushucho, Hokutoshi, Yamanashi 408-0312
Open: 9a.m. to 6p.m.
Kinseiken Nirasaki shop:
Address: 154 Kotagawa, Nakadamachi, Nirasakishi, Yamanashi 407-0262
Open: 9a.m. to 6p.m.
No scheduled holidays
Note: The mizu shingen mochi are available only on Saturdays, Sundays and Public Holidays from June until the end of September.