Yatsuhashi (八ツ橋)

Yatsuhashi refers to one of the Japanese-style confectioneries. Yatsuhashi is a well-known confectionery originating in Kyoto City. It is written 八橋, 八つ橋 or 八ッ橋.

Summary

Yatsuhashi is a kind of thin rice cracker that is made by baking the dough consisting of joshinko (komeko) (high-quality non-glutinous rice powder), sugar and cinnamon powder that has been rolled out thin and cut into the shape of koto (a long Japanese zither with thirteen strings), which is a rectangle convexly curved symmetrically to the longer axis. Yatsuhashi is made by Shogoin Yatsuhashi Sohonten and some argue that it is in the shape of a bridge. Yatsuhashi that is steamed and not baked is referred to as Nama-yatsuhashi (unbaked yatsuhashi). Honke Nishio Yatsuhashi that is a long-established store founded over 300 years ago, is well known.

Nama-yatsuhashi used to be wrapped in takegawa (husk of bamboo shoots) but, today, they are predominantly vacuum-packed to improve its shelf life. The shelf life of unopened nama-yatsuhashi is now approximately 9 to 11 days.

There are 2 different explanations as to where the name Yatsuhashi came from with one being 'Yatsuhashi in Mikawa Province,' where the story was set in the ninth chapter of the Tale of Ise 'Kakitsubata (water irises)' and with the other being it was made into the shape of a koto after Kengyo Yatsuhashi.

Sweet red bean filled nama-yatsuhashi

"An-iri nama-yatsuhashi (nama-yatsuhashi filled with coarsely mashed sweet red beans)" has subsequently gone through numerous improvements prior to settling on the present form. In Kyoto, 'Otabe' is never referred to as Yatsuhashi in general.

Flavors

An-nama (nama-yatsuhashi with filling)
Cinnamon
Maccha (green tea)
White and black sesame seeds
Umean (sweet white bean paste with plums)
Mandarin orange
Peach
Strawberry
Cherry blossom
Lemonade
Chocolate and banana
Chocolate
Baked sweet potato jam Kyoto style
Chestnut
Green apple
Blueberry
Mango
Natsumikan (summer tangerine)
Salt
Sweet green pea paste
Other flavors of the season

For souvenirs

According to a survey, 96% of visitors buy confectioneries as memento of their trip to Kyoto and of the 96%, the sales of yatsuhashi make up for 45.6% (24.5% for nama-yatsuhashi and 21.1% for yatsuhashi) whereby it can be said that yatsuhashi is a representative souvenir item of Kyoto.

Main companies selling Yatsuhashi

Product names are shown in the parentheses

Seigoin Yatsuhashi Sohonten (Hijiri)

Izutsu Yatsuhashi Honpo (Yuko)

Honke Nishio Yatsuhashi (An-nama)

Otabe

Hakushindo (An-san, Sweets)

Goten Yatsuhashi Honpo (Oboko)

Seikodo Yatsuhashi Sohonpo (Namayatsu)