all photos by Koji Fujii courtesy Toru Shimokawa Architects
Invented in the town of Dazaifu and dating back hundreds of years, umegae mochi is a type of rice cake filled with sweet red bean paste and imprinted with the petals of a plum blossom. The sweets are practically synonymous with Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine, and have been a popular souvenir for as long as many can remember. Umegae mochi can be found in many shops in Fukuoka, and even at the train station, but one shop in particular stands out: the Yasutake mochi shop.
Resembling a giant, rectangular stone, Yasutake is located along the main street leading up to Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine and with it’s large, brooding presence it’s hard to miss. It’s run by the Yasutake family who have a long history as merchants in the area and have dedicated themselves to serving soba, tea and sweets to visitors who come from afar to visit the shrine.
The Yasutake mochi shop was recently remodeled by local architect Toru Shimokawa, who combined elements of stone, wood and water to create a stunning, elegant and atmospheric shop that beckons visitors towards its entrance. A deep overhang of copper shingles hangs over this entrance, shielding rain and sun just enough that nature still seems to pass in and out. A narrow, pebble-lined floor subtly separates the indoor and outdoor spaces.
Details like the stone display holders on the wooden counter and the stone washbasin add meditative charm to the space. There are more details on their website and Yasutake is also on Instagram.