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The Flying Dango of Ichinoseki

The Flying Dango of Ichinoseki
  • In southern Iwate is the city of Ichinoseki which is the second largest city in the prefecture. Running through the city is the Iwai River flowing from Mt. Kurikoma nearby, which forms the picturesque Genbikei Gorge as it passes by the neighbourhood of Genbicho. At the heart of the gorge, Kakko-ya’s flying dango awaits visitors as one of the most unique experiences of Iwate and probably of Japan.

    Kakko-ya has been serving dango at Genbikei since 1878 when the founder decided it wasn’t enough to only offer customers delicious dango and had the great idea of flying the dango from his shop to the other edge of the gorge. Fast forward to today, and master Chiba-san and his son continue the tradition that brings customers from all corners of the world to try the anko (red bean), goma (sesame), or mitarashi (sweet soy sauce) dango.

    There are three ways to live the “flying dango” experience at Kakko-ya:

    The Flying Dango of Ichinoseki

    The Flying Dango of Ichinoseki

    The Flying Dango of Ichinoseki

    The Flying Dango of Ichinoseki

    The first is to walk down to the southern edge of the Genbikei Gorge, put your money in the empty basket, knock on the wooden board and wait. The basket will be pulled away across the river and in a matter of minutes be flown back to you with a box of dango and a cup of green tea, which surprisingly does not spill at all along the way. Take the goods and enjoy the treat by the rivers edge.

    The Flying Dango of Ichinoseki

    The Flying Dango of Ichinoseki

    The second option is to cross to the northern edge and over to Kakko-ya. At the shop enquire about the flying dango experience and let the staff guide you to the second floor and the launching window from where the dango and tea are send to the customers on the other side. This is probably the most exciting aspect of a visit to this iconic shop. Chiba-san and his son are happy to show off the thousands of photos they have taken with past visitors (from around the world) covering the walls of their “operations” room. They are even happier to pull out your country flag, hook it on the basket, and play the respective national anthem as the basket is sent across to the waiting customers.

    The Flying Dango of Ichinoseki

    The Flying Dango of Ichinoseki

    The Flying Dango of Ichinoseki

    The Flying Dango of Ichinoseki

    The third option is to sit inside the quaint shop, get a table overlooking the gorge and indulge in the sweet dango, while taking in the serene views of the Iwai River. Weather permitting, there are also tables set out in the middle of a garden a few steps closer to the river.

    The Flying Dango of Ichinoseki

    The Flying Dango of Ichinoseki

    The proverbial cherry on top at Kakko-ya is getting to meet the master himself. Although he is a busy man, the friendly and upbeat Chiba-san is a total character and chatting with him is a total pleasure. Beside the flying dango, he happens to love music, and his baby, a vintage McIntosh stereo system is still in use at the shop. If you come early during the day and press him, he might even give you quick tour of his system and test it out with his favourite tunes. If you make it to this part of Iwate, make sure not to leave without visiting the Chiba family and their sweet dango.

    Geibi Gorge
    Address
    Iwate Pref. Ichinosekishi Higashiyamachounagasaka Machi 467
    Phone
    Genbikei Gorge
    Address
    Iwate Pref. Ichinosekishi Gembichou Minamitakinoue
    Phone
  • Kakko-ya
    Address
    Iwate Pref. Ichinosekishi Gembichou Takinagami 211
    Phone
    0191292031
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