Amazake-chaya Tea House: A Step into the Past
“Amazake”is a non alcoholic and sweet drink made from rice. In Samurai era, it was very useful as a sports drink.
When I saw the Amazake-chaya Tea House on the Hakone map, conveniently on the way to Lake Ashi, I had to stop there. I knew nothing about it, but how could I resist a tea house?!!
The Bus Station
To get there, we took the K bus from the Hakone Yumoto station early in the morning.
The bus doesn’t run very often, so we had some time to enjoy the views at the station. I love standing on that red bridge!
The bus we took was a more local bus, and it stopped short of our destination… So instead of waiting for 20 minutes for the correct bus, we decided to walk the one hour it said on Google Maps. I’m glad we did!
Soon, we reached an ancient hiking path:
It was a really pretty hike in the snow:
The mountains around us looked like a dreamy drawing:
Oh, and we had to watch out for monkeys…
The Tea House
Finally, a bit cold and wet, we reached the tea house!
We learned of it’s ancient history, from the 1600s:
Having just hiked part of the route mentioned in the sign, it felt like were part of that old time. Tired and cold, taking a refuge in this amazing middle-of-nowhere tea house.
As you enter the tea house, there is immediately a super welcoming communal feel with many places for strangers to sit together and drink tea:
In the center, there was this amazing fire pit where something good was cooking:
I ordered the specialities - Amazake (hot with ginger for the winter!) and Chikara-Mochi. Chikara Mochi, the special dessert, is made from glutinous rice that is steamed and pounded into a paste with a wooden pestle and then toasted by charcoal. There were three different flavors - soy sauce, sweet young soy bean powder, and black sesame. I got the black sesame one!
To be honest, I wasn’t sure whether I would like any of these. I don’t really like milk or drinks that remind me of milk. And I don’t usually like the Japanese rice desserts. But I couldn’t resist being part of this history, getting the same tea and snacks that travelers did in the past before me.
Our order arrived!
WOWWW!!! The tea was incredible - a little sweet and perfect with the ginger. The dessert was absolutely perfect. The rice was fluffy and sticky and incredible. It was so good, I ordered another set of the same thing…
We used the discount coupons that came with out Hakone Free Pass to get 50 yen off each cup of tea!
What a perfect experience! From the tea house, you can continue hiking for an additional 30 minutes to the main attractions at the lake, including the ancient cedar forest that is part of this path.
However, since it was cold and it started snowing, we decided to take the bus onward.
If you plan to go to Hakone in better weather, I highly recommend being part of this beautiful past!