Matsumotos Corner Vol.3

Mitarashi Dango  Sweet & salty Japanese snack

When you visit a large shrine or temple in Japan, the road leading to the main gate is lined with many souvenir shops and restaurants that attract visitors and tourists. You will surely find this Mitarashi Dango in these places.
“Dango” is dumpling made by making a ball of cereal flour with added water, and steaming or boiling it. The white rice dumplings of Mitarashi Dango stabbed on the skewer give off a savoury aroma with a grilled finish. Is the glossy sauce drenched there sweet? Yes, it’s sweet. But not only sweet, it’s salty too. Because soy sauce is used*.
The name “Mitarashi” is taken f rom Mitarashi River at Shimogamo Shrine, Kyoto, a World Heritage Site. Generally the word mitarashi means a water spot at the entrance of a shrine or temple where worshipers clean their hands and feet. At Shimogamo Shrine, since ancient times, there has been an event in late July where worshipers set their foot in the Mitarashi River and pray for good health (Mitarashi Festival). The dumplings sold nearby at this event seems to be the origin of the Mitarashi Dango. One theory is that the round dumplings were created to imitate the shape of bubbles that spring up in the river water.
Now, you can buy Mitarashi Dango everywhere in Japan at supermarkets and convenience stores. But it’s also fun to visit shrines and temples and try these traditional snacks and sweets.

※Mitarashi Dango also uses a seasoning containing alcohol called “Mirin”