White pieces with a diameter of around 5mm, oiri, Kagawa’s traditional sweets are made by cooking and drying mochi rice, and then cutting it into small cubes.
After being highly praised by a Japanese celebrity on TV, oiri have even became known among young people recently! In Kagawa, there is a custom of distributing them to neighbors in celebration of marriages, and yours truly (Kagawa-born photo-writer Furukawa) also remembers eating them as a child.
Norikane Shoten, a shop that has been making oiri for over 100 years, kindly agreed to cooperate with me for this article.
In the foreground you can see the lady of the house and at the back the master. He is roasting the “bits” that we saw in the first photograph. (From this comes the name oiri – one meaning of ‘iru’ is ‘to roast’ in Japanese) The lady of the shop is in the middle of adding color to the oiri that have already been roasted. I sneak a peek inside the revolving machine and…
This pearl-like shine is Norikane Shoten’s forte. The sweets are slightly sweet and melt in the mouth.
The finished oiri are carefully packed into bags by hand. In addition to being very delicate, oiri are also considered lucky items, so the staff are extremely careful.
They give off such a happy feeling!
Packed in heart-shaped cases and colorful cosmetic cases, the oiri are so beautiful and just right for commemorating that special day.
The history of oiri began as a present given to the young aristocratic ladies of Marugame. And even today they bring happiness in this form.
“Lately there has been a boom, so we’ve become busy”, say the Norikame couple. I think that making oiri requires a lot of work, but I can’t help but hope they continue making these lovely local sweets for many years to come.
Norikane oiri are even ordered by fans from outside the prefecture. If you can, do come and try them out!
Location: 5-9-14 Nakabu-cho, Marugame city, Kagawa prefecture
Setouchi FInder Photo-writer: Izumi Furukawa
Izumi Furukawa Hello. My name is Izumi Furukawa and I was born in Kagawa Prefecture. Before getting married in 2012, I wrote for various magazine companies and Internet based media organizations in Tokyo. After marrying, I moved to Hiroshima and am now raising my child as well as writing stories about my fascination with this area through Setouchi Finder. Most of the articles I write are about places I visit on weekends with my family. My favorite driving course is Route 375 from Saijyo to the Miyoshi Area, and my favorite food from the Hiroshima area is Anagomeshi (from Miyajima)!!
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