The round, anko-filled (sweet red bean paste) “tart” is a famous souvenir from Ehime Prefecture. For people from outside Ehime, a “tart” is a form of western sweet resembling a cake, but for Ehime locals it is a quick-baked sponge cake filled with anko. The Ehime “tart” was originally brought to the area from Nagasaki by feudal lord Sadayuki Matsudaira. Though it has since been switched to anko, at that time, the original foreign sweet was a sponge cake filled with jam. In this article, I will introduce a particularly exquisite sponge cake made with fine, top-class ingredients and great skill.
This is Rokujiya, which opened in 1933. During the war, Rokujiya’s sponge cake stopped selling, but as soon as the war was over, the founder, Mr. Hoichi Murase, traveled to Okaido in Matsuyama City and stood in front of the Mitsukoshi department store there and made sponge cakes with 2 eggs, flour and sugar. Word of the sponge cake traveled fast and it soon regained its popularity.
This is the shop sign for Rokujiya. The name Rokujiya (rokuji – six o’clock) comes from the two hands on the clock. At precisely 6:00, the hands stand straight up, which symbolizes a “straight path”, or sincerity and honesty. At Rokujiya, the legacy of Mr. Murase lives on in many forms.
The main store is in Katsuyamacho, and the other in Dogoyunomachi in Katsuyamacho. Though there are only these two stores, among other places around the country, their products can be found at airports, harbors, and highway service stations. They always aim to create products with the best possible taste and quality, so they do not use any machines; everything is handmade by skilled workers, and the cakes are rolled using bamboo sheets. The cakes are also completely free of food additives, and the carefully selected red beans come from Hokkaido.
For its 70th anniversary in 2003, Rokujiya celebrated by creating an extra special kind of cake. The Cho Tokusen Tart 70 is delicious, but the secret to its yummy flavor cannot be identified with just a single glance.
The secret to its yummy flavor is blue eggs, or “blue eggs of happiness”, as they also are called. The blue eggs come from a breed of Chilean chicken called araucana. Rokujiya collaborates with a local poultry farm by raising chickens to bring happiness to everyone who eats their sponge cake. In other words, you might call it a “sponge cake of happiness”.
The round sponge cake with its center of anko clearly resembles the Japanese character “の”. The anko has just the right level of sweetness, and the dough has a soft, spongy texture that melts in the mouth. It is apparent that Mr. Murase’s legacy of sincerity is embodied in the cake; the result of 70-years of tradition, curiosity and passion.
This is the cafe in the corner of the store. Customers can spend time here in this relaxing environment talking with their friends and enjoying a piece of sponge cake.
The above is a photo of the set that consists of the sponge cake and the jasmine tea brand Hyakkasenshi. Perfect for girls, Hyakkasenshi is the Chinese legend of a female elf who lives on Mt. Penglai (Japanese: Horai) and who unified a hundred flower fairies. Perfect souvenirs for colleagues, friends and family, the shop also sells individually wrapped pieces of sponge cake. With a taste destined to remain unchanged into the future, Rokujiya keeps its traditions alive in its cakes.
Sponge cake from Rokujiya is a must-buy when you are looking for souvenirs from Ehime. Made with devotion and sincerity, they will surely bring happiness to anyone who receives them.
Address: 2-18-8 Katsuyamacho, Matsuyama City, Ehime Prefecture
Open: 9:00 – 19:00
Closed: Open throughout the year
Address: 14-22 Dogoyunomachi, Matsuyama City, Ehime Prefecture (Inside Dogo Shopping Street)
Open: 9:00 – 21:00
Closed: Open throughout the year
Setouchi Finder Photo-writer: Maki Ohashi
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