Did Ninja culture really give birth to a brand of cake? Iga’s famous product “Katayaki” is said to have been the food carried by Ninja in the past. They contain no moisture so they keep well, are light and provide nutrition, so Ninja allegedly always carried them around with them.
I visited Kamada Confectionery that has been making “Katayaki” here for over 50 years, and watched them being produced.
As the Chinese characters used to write “Katayaki” suggest, they are “hard, baked, cakes”, and are famous as the hardest variety of “senbei” (rice crackers) in Japan.
As you cannot break them in the mouth, you place “Katayaki” on the palm of your hand, hit the middle of one “Katayaki” and put a piece that has broken off in your mouth.
Kamada Confectionery makes them in two types: one with green laver and another with black sesame in the center, both of which give a pleasant, fragrant accent.
“Katayaki made in different shops have their slight characteristics, and they are selective on how they bake them. For our stamp, we use cherry wood acquired from a sawmill”, the manager of Kamada told me while he skillfully prepared “Katayaki”.
With their delicate sweetness, Katayaki go well with green tea, and even coffee and black tea, making them the perfect souvenir for teatime.
While I was looking around, I was able to try “Katayaki” just out the oven, which were warm and soft – a precious experience I could not have savored with out coming here.