In the United States we may think of October as pumpkin spice time. In Japanese culture, October is a special month because it’s when the harvest moon usually appears. The chushu (中秋) or “mid autumn” moon (which isn’t always synonymous with a full moon) sometimes appears in the month of September, but this year it fell on October 4th, according to the Japanese calendar.
A beautiful tradition called tsukimi (月見) or otsukimi (お月見), which translates roughly to “moon viewing,” celebrates the beauty of the moon. In Japanese mythology there is a rabbit who lives on the moon and of course the best time to see this floppy eared friend is on a full, or nearly full, moon.
A typical tsukimi celebration involves reveling in the beauty of the moon while indulging in tsukimi dango or “moon cakes.” The most delightful moon cakes we have ever encountered come in the shape of usagi (ウサギ or rabbits) and they’re made by Minamoto Kitchoan in Palo Alto, California. The usagi at Minamoto Kitchoan have a delicate, almost buttery, pancake like exterior combined with a sweet citrus and yuzu interior. Minamoto Kitchoan is located in the super walkable Stanford Shopping Center.
Minamoto Kitchoan is based out of Okayama, Japan and specializes in Japanese confections. While you’ll only be able to get your paws on the usagi (which are a special seasonal delicacy) during the months of the autumn moon, you’ll find an assortment of tasty modern Japanese sweets throughout the shop (which has locations in 11 cities around the world).
At Minamoto Kitchoan you’ll find gorgeous kusa (which is flavored with a Japanese herb known as yomogi) and sakura (sakura because it’s decorated with a cherry blossom design, not because of its flavor) mochi .
In addition to Minamoto Kitchoan, here’s a list of other neat little local spots we love across the Bay Area and Silicon Valley.
There are also daifuku which are a type of mochi stuffed with sweetened red bean paste in flavors like kuri (chestnut) and mame (soybean).
We may have hopped into Minamoto Kitchoan because of the rabbits, but we’re sure we’ll be back for more of their delightful treats. While Americans are becoming more in tune with legendary Japanese traditions like Hanami (cherry blossom and flower blooming viewing which typically happens across Japan in April) and the Japanese Floating Lantern Festival (July 19), we hope more people around the world will begin appreciating the beauty that’s all around them… even up in the sky.
Address: 180 El Camino Real Suite 1160
Palo Alto California 94304
Hours: Monday Through Friday 10:00am to 9:00pm, Saturday 10:00am to 7:00pm, Sunday 11;00pm to 6:00pm
Phone: (650) 328-1830
Pricing (All in USD): Tsuya From $18.90, Ayashirabe From $27.30, Kasutera From $25.20,
Fukuwatashi Senbei From $16.20, Usagi From $34.00