On the famed Tokaido road in Hakone lies the Amazake Chaya, catering to travellers for centuries. The Tokaido road between Kyoto and Tokyo has been the main artery between the imperial and cultural capitol of Kyoto and the administrative and political center of Tokyo for hundreds of years. The road has been used by samurai, visiting dignitaries, conquering armies, and the daily traveler.
The traffic on this road was quite heavy and very regulated by the Shogun in an effort to hinder the ability to form any kind of rebellion. It is easy to walk the cobbled road and imagine the colorful people, historical messages, and lives that must have passed before us. The stone paved road in Hakone holds many stories and is a wonderful link to the colorful and interesting history of Japan.
One of the best preserved sections of this road is in Hakone, running from Hakone-Yumoto up the mountain to Moto-Hakone on the shores of Lake Ashi. Along the way the Amazake Chaya been in continuous operation for more than 400 years. The menu, design, and atmosphere is genuine and has been relatively unchanged since the Edo period. The “Amazake Tea House” is now in operation by the 13th generation of the same family. The welcoming and warm family is just as much a part of this experience as the bulding, history, and famed road.
The Amazake Chaya is the last remaining thatched house on the Tokaido road providing rest and refreshments for theweary traveler making their way up the Hakone mountains. The Chaya is nestled between the steep walls of the Hakone mountian peaks. The earthern floors and weathered walls give you a window to the lives of the Japanese traveler hundreds of years ago.
The menu of Amazake and mochi is simple, unchanged, and completes the experience. The menu originated from the need to provide travelers with healthy and rejuvenating options as they scaled the laborious mountains. Amazake is a sweet, often served hot, rice based drink whose recipe and production methods have remained relatively unchanged. The natural sweetness is derived from the breakdown of the the rice`s carbohydrates into simple unrefined sugars. A plate of “chikara-mochi,” pounded rice cake, is toasted over coals and served in one of three styles; black seasame seed, soy sauce, or sweet soy bean powder.
Enjoy your Amazake under the airy canopy of the trees outside or near the warming hearth in the charming traditional building. The Amazake Chaya takes you back to another time and continues to serve as a rest stop and welcome site to travelers passing through Hakone on their exploration of Japan.
The Amazake Chaya receives travelers everyday of the year, regardless of weather. You can join Explore Hakone’s private tour and have this great experience with us.