Mochi Diaries: Kibidango 吉備団子

Now I’m well aware that dango and mochi aren’t exactly the same thing, but they are both made from mochiko (糯粉; rice flour) and I’d like this segment to cover a wide array of omiyage and traditional Japanese sweets!

20120901-083345Residents claim that Okayama was the original setting of the Japanese fairytale of Momotaro and subsequently named its main street Momotarō-Odōri in the Peach Boy’s honor. The Okayama Momotaro Festival is held annually in August for three days. According to locals the story was based on the legend of Prince Kibitsuhiko’s battle against the ogre Ura, who is said to have lived in Kino-jo (Demon’s Castle) in the area around Soja 総社. In the fairytale, Momotaro is given kibidango to sustain him on his journey to defeat Ura, and so they are the omiyage to bring back from Okayama.

I was originally introduced to these little delights soon after I arrived in Japan. Along with the other recently-appointed JETs, we had to make a Japanese language presentation (to show our BoE we were learning and stuff ><). We decided upon the story of Momotaro, so imagine our surprise when our teacher handed over a box of kibidango, fresh from Okayama, to assist in our production!

702069_10151315368770272_1894471332_nSo onto the actual kibidango. The box that sensei presented us with is surely the most intricately packaged omiyage I have ever set eyes upon, the outer art detailing the characters of the Momotaro tale in a cute, childish, watercolour kind of style.

Upon opening the box there was a little card with similar artwork to the exterior upon which was written the Momotaro story. The kibidango themselves were each individually wrapped in little wax paper balls with one character from the fable printed on each.565547_10151315368890272_842326848_n Now prior to tasting these I would have picked mochi over dango any day of the week. However, I suspect this was due to the fact I had never tasted proper dango prior to this, having only sampled the cheap and nasty combini versions.

Although tiny in size the flavour was amazing, subtly sweet, delicate and melt in your mouth. Let’s just say I was tempted to eat them all rather than sharing them with anyone else in my group!

These came close to what I would consider the perfect Japanese confectionery.



Similar Posts