Located right next to Tennoji Kosho temple, the 79th temple of Shikoku’s 88 sacred places, is Yasoba (one way to read 88 in Japanese is ‘yasoba’) Meibutsu Tokoroten Kiyomizuya.
This region is called Yasoba, and in Japanese, the name has many different character variations, for example 弥蘇場, 八十八, 八十蘇 and八蘇場 (which all are read ‘Yasoba’). The name’s origin dates back around 1,900 years.
According to legend, when Yamato Takeru No Mikoto and his soldiers arrived in the region under Emperor Keiko’s orders to exterminate an evil fish that lived in the Seto Inland Sea, they were done over by the evil fish’s poison. However, when they were given water from a miraculous spring flowing in the area, they were all brought back to life.
Since then, this spring water area has apparently been called 弥蘇場 (‘Yasoba’, with 蘇場 meaning ‘place for revival’), or – saying that there were 88 soldiers – 八十八 (’88’ in characters), 八十蘇 (’80 revived’), 八蘇場 (‘8 revival place’). All can be read ‘Yasoba’.
At the end of the Edo period, a teahouse that sold tokoroten was built next to the spring of Yasoba, and that was the origin for Kiyomizuya.
As it is located on a ridge of the Takamatsu highway, passing travelers and pilgrims used the teahouse as a place to take a break. Now, even after more than 230 years have passed, it’s continues to be used for the same purpose.
The teahouse is commonly known by its pet name, “Yasoba no Tokoroten”.
Tokoroten is made by simmering a type of seaweed called tengusa in a pot, straining the broth, and then cooling the results until it solidifies.
Tengusa can be collected from several locations around Japan, but its properties differ according to area.
Kiyomizuya utilizes an original blend of high-quality tengusa collected from Izu and Shikoku with. Tokoroten is produced manually without relying on any machinery and is free of any additives and coloring.
At the teahouse you can have taste of freshly made tokoroten on the spot. The cooled tokoroten is pushed through a specialized tool called a tentsuki and made ‘stringlike’.
This tentsuki, too, is apparently hand-made by a temple carpenter.
The standard flavoring is a mixture of vinegar and soy sauce together with some mustard. Tokoroten has a unique stickiness and just the right consistency – you can taste the flavor of the ocean. Tokoroten is filled with minerals and has almost zero calories – it’s a healthy dish that’s good for the body.
Additional choices include “Naniwa style” with brown sugar syrup; “Owari style” with vinegar, soy sauce and sugar; and “Kuzumochi style” with kinako (soy bean flour) and brown sugar syrup. The current menu has been created over time and is apparently the result of answering the requests of pilgrims arriving from all around Japan.
The teahouse is only open from mid-March until the end of November, but even when it is closed, tokoroten is sold in nearby supermarkets as well as online.
How about having a taste of Yasoba’s tokoroten that has been produced carefully using the methods passed down from generation to generation since the Edo period?
URL: http://www.yasoba.com/ (Japanese)
Address: 759-1 Nishinosho-cho, Sakaide City, Kagawa Prefecture
Business hours: Around 9am ~ until twilight (6.00pm during summer)
Holidays: Open everyday from Mid-March to November (From second Sunday in October, closed on national holidays and Sundays) / Closed from December to Mid-March
Setouchi Finder Photo-writer: Yumi Kobayashi
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