Vegetarian's Japan Guide

Dazaifu Monzen Machi, The Approach of Dazaifu Tenman-gū

If you are heading to one of Fukuoka‘s landmarks, Dazaifu Tenman-gū, you definitely won’t want to miss out on Dazaifu Monzen Machi, the approach to the shrine that is lined with Umegae Mochi rice cake makers, trendy boutique shops, and cafes! Because there are around 30 Umegae Mochi rice cake makers on the street, we thought to make some recommendations of which ones to go to in case you can’t decide which shop to start with.

We have also included the special Starbucks store in Dazaifu Tenman-gū. You will understand why once you read through our review (=゚ω゚)ノ.

☛ On the 25th of each month, the Umegae Mochi’s color changes from white to green. To commemorate the birthday of Sugawara no Michizane, the god enshrined in Dazaifu Tenman-gū, mugwort is added to the dough used to make the rice cake.
☛ On the 17th of each month, black rice flour is used as a part of the ingredients making the Umegae Mochi looks purple to celebrate the opening of the Kyūshū National Museum (九州国立博物館)

Explore Hakata With a Guided Tour

If you prefer a guide to introduce you to the charms of Hakata, how about joining one of the below tours?

Tip: Refer to HERE if you want to rent a Kimono when you are in Dazaifu!

How to Get to Dazaifu Monzen Machi

  • From Nishi Tetsu’s (西鉄) Dazaifu Station (太宰府駅), it is a 5-minute walk.
  • From Hakata Station, you can take a bus from Hakata Bus Terminal to Dazaifu Station. The bus trip is around 45 minutes. You can check Nishitetsu’s website HERE for the service’s timetable.

Yasutake (やす武)

Yasutake is a shop in Monzen Machi with a long history that can be traced back to the Kamakura period (1192 – 1333). The Yasutake family was the biggest female accessory seller in town. In 1948, it changed its family business and is now one of the most popular Umegae Mochi makers in Dazaifu.

The rice cakes are perfectly grilled, giving them a beautiful golden appearance. Unlike the traditional Umegae Mochi, the rice cakes sold at Yasutake are accented with salt from Akō City in Hyōgō Prefecture. It is one of the secrets that people tend to eat more than they intended and why customers would queue up for it.

Also, it is the perfect Umegae Mochi for those who aren’t a fan of sweets!

In January 2022, Yasutake re-opened after a major renovation to the shop front. With its voguish look, it is now a shop that can easily catch the attention of anyone who strolls on the street. If you pay attention to the lighting, it is smartly arranged into the shape of Yasutake’s family crest!

Yasutake’s Business Hours and Access Information

  • Yasutake is open from 8:30 am to 6 pm.
  • For Dazaifu Tenman-gū’s access information, please refer to our Dazaifu Tenman-gū article.

Kasanoya (かさの家)

Another recommended shop on the approach is Kasanoya. Kasanoya was opened in 1922 as an accommodation facility. As time passed by, it transformed into an Umegae Mochi maker.

The best thing about Kasanoya is the café opened on Christmas Day in 2020. The cafe’s interior is in the retro style of the Taisho period (1912 – 1926), with a good balance of Japanese and Western elements. If you are lucky enough to be seated by the window, you can adore the little garden at the back of the café.

Their menu doesn’t disappoint either. If you love red bean paste, the “Kasane-mochi (かさねもち)” will be the best menu item for you. The dish looks like a hamburger with buns replaced by two Umegae Mochi. Instead of meat and vegetables, it is another layer of red bean paste in the middle!

Apparently, the idea came from the time when the shop was still a BnB. The staff used to serve their guests with more red bean paste in the hope of helping them to recover faster from tiredness from traveling.

If you love chocolate and are looking for an interesting plate of dessert, order a plate of Kōbei (紅梅) or Hakubei (白梅).

Instead of just a plate of ordinary Umegae Mochi, chocolate sauce is poured over the rice cake! Not only is the presentation flawless, but the Western chocolate surprisingly goes really well with the Japanese red bean paste and the rice cake!

For those who love bitter chocolate, go with Kōbei. And if you prefer milk chocolate, the Hakubei is the dish you want to order.

Kasanoya’s Business Hours and Access Information

  • Kasanoya is open from 10 am to 6 pm on weekdays
    • The last order is taken 30 minutes before the store close.
  • For Dazaifu Tenman-gū’s access information, please refer to our Dazaifu Tenman-gū article.

Starbucks – Dazaifu Tenman-gū Store (太宰府天満宮表参道店)

While you might not normally fancy a cup of coffee from a Starbucks Cafe, we highly recommend you check out the Dazaifu Tenman-gū store. Sandwiched by traditional-looking houses, its trendy appearance will undoubtedly stand out when you walk on Dazaifu Monzen Machi Street.

The interior design of the store was completed with 2,000 rectangular cedar logs, which warmed up the otherwise cold concrete grey walls. Utilizing the traditional architectural techniques, not even one nail is used to support the structure!

The café was designed by Tokyo University’s professor, Kuma Kengo (隈研吾). The design blends modern Western and traditional Japanese elements amazingly to create a special space for the customers to enjoy the coffee with the nice scent of the cedar.

If you get a chance to sit down, spend some moments examining the tables and chairs in the store. Different from a regular Starbucks café, the furniture here is order-made to match the stylish look of the café!

At the back of the store, the small garden has Dazaifu’s symbol planted, plum blossoms, which brighten up the café with their gorgeous flowers from late winter to early spring.

Although the shop is most likely packed with tourists, if you are lucky enough that the seats at the back are vacated, how about spending a while enjoying this architectural wonderland?

Starbucks – Dazaifu Tenman-gū Store’s Business Hours and Access Information

  • Starbucks – Dazaifu Tenman-gū Store is open from 8 am to 8 pm.
  • From Nishitetsu’s Dazaifu Station, it is around a 4-minute walk.
  • The cafe is just a one-minute walk from Dazaifu Tenman-gū’s stone torii gate.

Teradaya (寺田屋)

Located at the end of Dazaifu Tenman-gū’s approach, Teradaya has been serving the pilgrims for more than 85 years. From the delicious plum wine to umeboshi (Japanese salted plum), the plum specialty shop has a wide range of plum products.

The staff is most likely making the Umegae Mochi behind the glass panel when you walk past it. Seeing how the rice cake is made itself is an enjoyment.

So what about the taste? The rice cake served at Teradaya is grilled one by one by the staff. This is probably one of the reasons that their customers love their Umegae Mochi. The moderately sweet bean paste is wrapped by slightly thicker skin, giving it a somewhat chewy texture. The freshly grilled crispy outer layer is another factor that contributes to its deliciousness.

If you don’t like to eat while walking, sit in the dining space at the back of the shop. Their dine-in menu has the Umegae Mochi teamed up with coffee or Japanese tea. We would recommend giving their Ume-cha (plum tea) a try as the type of tea is special to the region.

Teradaya’s Business Hours and Access Information

  • Teradaya is open from 10 am to 5:30 pm daily except the first and the third Wednesdays from April to December.
  • Teradaya is the shop that is closest to Dazaifu Tenman-gū’s stone torii gate.

Visiting the Biggest Shrine in the Kyūshū Region – Dazaifu Tenman-gū

If you haven’t already, have a quick read of what the most famous shrine in Kyūshū is about before you head there!

Knowing the history of the shrine and some details of the buildings in the precinct will make your visit a lot more meaningful and enjoyable.

For more details about the shrine, such as the flowering season of the 6,000 plum blossoms, refer to our article on Dazaifu Tenman-gū!

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