Learn from our mistakes to make the best of your visit to this Yamanashi attraction!

Every Japanese prefecture is famous for some kind of food, and in Yamanashi Prefecture west of Tokyo, home to half of Mt. Fuji, one of their most popular delicacies is Shingen Mochi, a type of mochi rice cake generously sprinkled with kinako, or roasted soybean powder, and drizzled with decadent brown sugar syrup. It’s not only been turned into a MacDonald’s pie and used as inspiration for a beer, but it also has a special “water cake” form, so it’s undoubtedly one of the most famous foods to come out of the mountainous prefecture.

▼ Ordinary Shingen Mochi

There are quite a few brands of Shingen Mochi, but the most famous is probably Kikyoya. It even has a “theme park” called “Kikyoya Shingen Mochi Factory Theme Park!

Though “theme park” brings to mind rollercoaster rides and ferris wheels, this attraction is actually a complex of factories you can tour. One of the most popular is the “Kikyoya Shingen Mochi All-You-Can-Stuff,” which has been featured on both TV and social media. Basically, it’s where you can stuff as much Shingen Mochi as you can into a bag for a set price!

Naturally, we had to go check it out.

The Kikyoya Shingen Mochi Factory Theme Park is located in Fuefuki City, near the Ichinomiya-Misaka IC exit of the Chuo Expressway. It seemed to be a relatively easy place to visit both with and without a car, as there was an endless stream of sightseeing buses turning in and out of the parking lot.

We arrived around lunchtime, so we were worried that they had run out of tickets for the All-You-Can-Stuff, since on busy days they limit entry with a ticket system. We had to try it even if we didn’t have much hope, but when we got to the entrance…

The sign outside said they’d run out of tickets.

And even more shocking…

They’d stopped distributing tickets at six o’clock!!

We were in shock. They’d only distributed tickets until 6 a.m.? Was that a joke? But, hold on…they only open at 9! It was an ordinary day–not a big holiday like New Year’s or Golden Week. Are there so many people wanting to stuff a bag with sweets that they run out of spots three hours before it opens?!

It was hard to believe, at least until we learned how much it cost. Each bag was only 200 yen (US$1.38), and the bag can fit as many as 20 sweets inside. Ordinarily, one Shingen Mochi costs 180 yen, so even if the sweets are approaching their expiration dates, that’s still a heck of a deal. We could understand why some people would get up ridiculously early in the morning to take advantage of it.

Sadly, we were turned away at the door like kids trick-or-treating too late on Halloween, but there was plenty more to enjoy at the Kikyoya Shingen Mochi Factory Theme Park.

The main attraction is the free observation of the factory. Through windows overlooking the factory floor, we watched the production line move along smoothly. It was a pretty simple system, but it was done on a huge scale, so that made it pretty cool to see.

The most surprising thing we noticed was that each of the vinyl wrappers that Kikyoya’s Shingen Mochi come in are tied by hand. It was totally worth it to see just eight people wrapping each individual serving by hand as the Shingen Mochi kept rolling up.

After the factory observation deck, we went to check out the theme park’s shop.

Naturally, they sold Kikyo Shingen Mochi, which we had just watched being made in the factory, but other things as well, including Kikyo Shingen Mochi Dora–Shingen Mochi sandwiched between two castella cakes–and Kikyo Shingen Nama Purin, a type of pudding made with heavy cream and egg whites and flavored with kinako powder and brown sugar syrup. There were all kinds of things there!

Among them, what we were most excited to see was the Kikyo Shingen Mochi Kiwami, which is ultra rare. Normally Kikyo Shingen Mochi comes in a single serving in a small plastic container, but this special version comes in an edible box made of wafers. It’s impossible to get outside of Yamanashi.

We’d heard that they sell out really fast, so we were shocked to see them still in stock. According to the staff, they tend to prepare a lot more on weekends and holidays, but they generally tend to sell out in the morning. Luckily for us, there were about 10 left, but after we picked ours up and walked a circuit around the store, all the rest had disappeared. As such, we recommend stopping by the shop first if you want to buy limited-quantity items and saving the factory tour for after.

▼ We bought a pack of three for 700 yen.

Other than the shop, the All-You-Can-Stuff attraction, and the factory tour, there are lots of other things to check out, including restaurants that sell Hoto, a famous Yamanashi dish, as well as super cheap convenience stores selling original bento boxes, outlet stores, and cafes that sell soft-serve ice cream.

Obviously, if you want to try the All-You-Can-Stuff experience, you’ll need to get up bright and early, and those wanting to find rare products at the shop or good bargains at the outlets will want to do that first, but otherwise, there’s still plenty of other stuff to do.

It doesn’t take a full day to explore, but if you’re in the area or passing through on your way to try Poop Ice Cream, it’s worth stopping by. Watching how carefully each and every pack of Kikyoya Shingen Mochi is prepared will make you love it even more. At least, it did for us.

Related: Kikyoya
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