In Japan, there is a traditional confectionery known as “Monaka.” It consists of a thin, crisp wafer made from mochi or rice flour, filled with sweet red bean paste or other delightful fillings. Monaka is considered a classic and beloved wagashi.
One city in Japan known for its abundance of confectionery shops is Ito City, located on the Izu Peninsula. Each shop not only offers various flavors of anko (sweet red bean paste) but also showcases unique and creative designs for the Monaka wafers.
These small local shops, deeply embedded in the daily life of the community, can be quite challenging to discover if you’re simply traveling as a regular tourist.
Please refer to this page and immerse yourself in the authentic experience of Japan!
First, let’s start at “Isshin” inside Michi no Eki Ito Marine Town and buy the Monaka in the shape of a turban shell. In Japan, eating shellfish is part of the culture, so this unique shape is widely accepted. While it may not be commonly eaten in all countries, please remember that this is a confectionery. I encourage you to buy it without hesitation!
With the sea right in front of you, purchasing the turban shell-shaped Monaka adds an interesting twist to the experience.
Next, head towards the station along the seaside from Marine Town and walk for about 8 minutes. You’ll arrive at Sekishuan’s main store. Here, you can find Monaka written on “楽”
The word “楽” conveys a sense of enjoyment. The shop uses this feeling to wish for customers’ smiles.
Next, let’s visit “Bunju-do,” which is approximately a 13-minute walk from Sekishuan. Here, believe it or not, you can get Monaka in the shape of a wild boar.
The street where Bunju-do is located is called Shishido Street, named after the legend that a wounded wild boar came to recuperate in this area, thus inspiring the shape of the Monaka.
Next, enter the covered arcade right nearby called “Skydome Kinema Street.” It used to be movie theaters, hence the name “Kinema Street.” Inside, at Beniya, acquire the “Shiofuki Monaka.”
Beniya is also an established shop with a history of over 80 years. The characters written on the Monaka represent “Shiofuki,” a famous tourist spot along the coast of Ito, where waves enter a cave and create a pressure that spouts out like a geyser.
From here, you will need to walk a bit longer. Around the year 1100 AD, Minamoto no Yoritomo, who would become Japan’s first shogun, fell in forbidden love with a princess from the rival Heike clan, much like Romeo and Juliet. The stage for this story was Matsukawa. Cross the Matsukawa River and continue walking straight ahead.
After approximately 13 minutes, you will see Kashi-sho Tsukasa on your right. It is a small wagashi shop run by a friendly couple since 1980. Here, you can acquire Monaka in the shape of a chestnut. This shop offers a variety of chestnut-themed products, which likely inspired the creation of this particular shape.
After leaving the shop, climb a small hill, and you’ll see the tall building on your left, which is the Ito City Hall.
Next to the city hall is a temple called Butsugenji. As Butsugenji has a connection with the last Monaka, let’s make a deliberate visit.
After leaving Butsugenji and descending the slope, head to the final destination, Tamaya. And guess what! They have Monaka in the shape of…
Tengu is an imaginary creature found in legends throughout Japan, characterized by a red face and a long nose. It is said to be either a god or a supernatural being. There’s a legend that Tengu left an apology letter at Butsugenji Temple, which inspired the shape of this Monaka. They also have Yokan (sweet bean jelly) in the shape of apology letter scrolls. How was that? Take a peek inside the bag. You’ll find a variety of Monaka, each with its own charm. Just looking at them brings joy! And the flavors are distinct. They make the perfect souvenir! In addition to these, there are many other confectionery shops in Ito. Please savor the different flavors and get closer to the locals