It might not be well known, but that doesn’t make it any less mouth-watering!

Ask any Japanese person what their hometown is famous for and they’ll be sure to give you an extensive list. Even the most remote of places has something that they’re known for, whether it be food or a sight-seeing spot.

Ask our Japanese-language reporter K. Masami what her hometown in Fukuoka Prefecture is famous for, and she’ll tell you right away — Miyajidake Shrine. Miyajidake Shrine is home to ‘the Big Three’; three sacred items that are noted for their impressive sizes.

Miyajidake has one of the biggest rope talismans (or shimenawa) in all of Japan, coming in at a whopping 13.5 meters (44 feet) long and weighing over 4,500 kilograms (4 tons). The rope is replaced every three years and is made by volunteers.

The shrine also houses one of the biggest taiko drums in the country, with a diameter of 2.2 meters (7 feet), and a huge copper bell, weighing around 450 kilograms (71 stones). Miyajidake Shrine has some beautiful photo opportunities too, including the famous ’Road of Light’ that leads from the shrine right to the sea, with the torii gate perfectly framing the ocean.

While the shrine is well-known for its beauty, and for being home to the “big three”, it’s also famous for its Matsugae mochi. Matsugae mochi is red sweet bean paste encased in a crispy, fried rice cake, with the shrine symbol branded on each cake.

The mochi is baked using a special round tool, and is best eaten freshly made, when it’s still hot. The crunchy rice cake outside goes perfectly with the sweet red bean paste inside.

▼ It’s hard to see clearly, but the shrine symbol is imprinted here

Masami is proud of her hometown delicacy and wants more people to know about it, as even in Japan it’s often outshone by Umegae mochi, a similar fried rice cake with red bean filling with a cherry blossom imprinted on the top. In fact, they’re often mistakenly associated with Miyajidake shrine due to a certain wildly famous pop group, who appeared to chomp down on them in a promotional video for the shrine.

Even Masami has to admit that the two mochis are incredibly similar, with the only real main difference being that Umegae mochi were created in nearby shrine Dazaifu. But Matsugae mochi are so delicious that Masami’s dad can eat several of them in one sitting, so while they don’t have the popularity of rice cake rival Umegae mochi, you’d be foolish to overlook them.

There are several different Matsugae mochi stores lined up along the entrance to Miyajidake Shrine, offering different styles and flavours, giving you the perfect excuse to eat a lot of rice cakes from different sellers. You can also order them online, as Masami did.

▼ There are different rice cake flavours available, including sesame and cherry blossom

If you’re ever in the area, be sure to check out Miyajidake Shrine and sample a rice cake or two. You can even head over to Daizaifu nearby if you’re on a shrine/rice cake pilgrimage. And as far as hometown delicacies go, Masami really hit the jackpot. We’ve definitely seen some slightly more out-there local recommendations in our time, after all!

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