HOME Tohoku Yamagata Surrounding Areas Of Yamagata Must-Try! Creative Konnyaku/Konjac Desserts from Japan's Yamagata Prefecture
Must-Try! Creative Konnyaku/Konjac Desserts from Japan's Yamagata Prefecture

Must-Try! Creative Konnyaku/Konjac Desserts from Japan's Yamagata Prefecture

Date published: 12 November 2019
Last updated: 8 November 2020

Konjac (konnyaku) is known by many creative phrases: devil's tongue, voodoo lily, snake palm or elephant yam. Its starchy root (called a corm) contains a high amount of fiber and is used in a variety of Japanese dishes.

Yamagata Prefecture has the highest consumption of konjac in Japan. Here it is used in different dishes such as the specialty dish “Tama Konnyaku” and special autumn dish “Imoni Jiru (potato stew).”

Here we will focus on new dishes using konjac. We visited Narageshuku Tanno Konnyaku, a facility that has focused on konjac dishes since they opened their doors in Kaminoyama City. With new types of konjac dishes and sweets, the way you look at konjac will be sure to change!

Table of Contents
  1. Konjac Desserts & More?! These New Konnyaku Dishes Will Impress!
  2. “We Want People to Visit Yamagata to Eat Konnyaku”
  3. New Konjac Desserts at a Cafe
  4. How to Make Konjac: Use Calcium-Rich Natural Water
  5. Alkaline Konjac Cleans the Body
  6. Narage Region Retains a 'Shukuba-Cho' Feel
▲The shop curtain for “Konnyaku Bansho” greets visitors

Konjac Desserts & More?! These New Konnyaku Dishes Will Impress!

What comes to mind when you hear of konjac dishes? Oden, nikomi, and so on.

At Narageshuku Tanno Konnyaku, they produce and sell konjac, offer new food products and suggest creative konjac cosine. At Konnyaku Bansho you can enjoy popular dishes such as kaiseki cooking using konjac and Tama Konnyaku. At Hibi Konnyaku you can try unique konjac sweets. We heard that Hibi Konnyaku has unique sweets, so we decided to visit the place.

▲The entrance of Ban Cafe with a modern Japanese style. *Hibi Konnyaku changed their name from Ban Cafe in April 2018.

“We Want People to Visit Yamagata to Eat Konnyaku”

They started selling konjac at Tannko Konnyaku in 1959, during the previous owner’s era. From the current chairman Mr. Masuo Tanno’s age, they started selling “Yamagata Prefecture Specialty Tama Konnyaku” nationwide around 1970. While going around the nation, the thought of “wanting people to visit Yamagata to eat konjac” became more vigorous, and in 1986 they opened up their current store.

▲Konnyaku Bansho that opened in 1986 has a place to eat and a shop
▲Customers visiting from all over the nation, will try samples and purchase what they like
▲Yamagata Prefecture specialty “Tama Konnyaku,” 100 yen for one (excluding tax), is available at Konnyaku Bansho

Also, Chairman Tanno came up with an amazing performance so visitors can enjoy their meals. He combined various ingredients with konjac to make dishes that look like other dishes such as tuna sashimi, tempura, and yakitori.

These konjac foods made with skillful technique has the texture and flavor of the real dishes. Anyone who tries these dishes are surprised that it is made with konnyaku.

▲From the top, Tama Konnyaku with a plump texture, Mochi Konnyaku with a chewy texture and the Yakitori Style Konnyaku that looks like real yakitori, 100 yen (excluding tax) for each
▲From March 2019 they have started offering the new meal “Konnyaku Gozen” 2,800 yen (excluding tax). A creative dish mainly using konjac

“This is possible because konjac is flavorless, it matches various ingredients, and we can come up with infinite amounts of new ideas.” Chairman Tanno continues to look for ways to surprise his customers.

  • Konnyaku Bansho
    • Address 608-1 Minazawa Suwamae, Kaimonyama-shi, Yamagata
    • Hours: Shopping 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m., dininig 11:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
      Closed: Tuesday (open if it is a holiday), January 1st.

New Konjac Desserts at a Cafe

President Tanno Masahiro told us, “after we opened up a cafe in 2013, we were able to change younger customer’s perception towards konjac. It is disheartening when people dislike konjac even though they haven’t tried it. We have started to offer enjoyable cafe menus using the unique feature of konjac.”

The konjac sweets at the cafe all include specially made konjac by President Tanno. This includes konjac that has texture like jelly, texture like fruits pulp and mellow taste, to replicate the original flavor. You can enjoy authentic sweets without worrying about calories.

▲The Ladies Set (drink included) 800 yen (excluding tax) comes with the delicious Konnyaku Pie Cake

The Konnyaku Pie Cake not only looks but tastes like a normal pie cake. You can’t notice the konjac texture at all. The Konnyaku Pie Cake that has the crisp pie crust and mellow sweetness is the most popular sweet on the cafe menu.

▲It’s unbelievable that there is konjac in the crisp pie crust!

The “Kuromame-fu Konnyaku” is like eating sweetly boiled black beans. It’s a sweets that has the soft konjac texture, and once you start you can’t stop.

▲Soft cream with Kurmame-fu Konnyaku toppings

Another popular dish is the “Konnyaku Mizore - Assorted Fruits,” which includes the “Konnyaku Mizore” with a jelly-like texture. The konjac and ripe pear is very juicy.

▲“Konnyaku Mizore - Assorted Fruits” drink set 650 yen (excluding tax)
▲Left “Koremo Konnyaku da Soda (blueberry)” 450 yen (excluding tax), right “Konnyaku Crush Juice (apple)” 450 yen (excluding tax), uses chilled konjac instead of ice cubes!

“Even though we create various dishes, we continue to provide the original flavor. To preserve and pass down Tama Konnyaku what my father and grandfather have protected, I believe we have to keep innovating new things.” Mr. Masahiro keeps challenging every day with his staff to pass on the legacy.

How to Make Konjac: Use Calcium-Rich Natural Water

To make konjac one thing you need is clean water; it is a major factor that determines the taste. They use spring water that comes from 283 meters under the property. Alkaline natural water is rich in calcium, and it is 18 degrees Celsius throughout the year.

▲The spring water from 283m underground is called “Ekiei no Mizu (Water of Profit)”

Alkaline Konjac Cleans the Body

Chairman Tanno said “from long ago konjac was called ‘Suna otoshi (sand remover)’ because it helps cleanse your body. Konjac doesn’t have calories and also removes toxins from your body, which has been told in ancient Buddhist teachings around the world. Japanese people eat many grains and have a longer intestine. Since konjac doesn’t digest, when it goes through the body, it cleans the walls of the intestines. It is a necessary food for us.”

▲Chairman Tanno who loves konjac

With it being so easy to have poor eating habits in modern times, alkaline konjac is a necessity for us.

▲Konjac potatoes that are harvested in autumn

They suggest fun and enjoyable eating experience while thinking about your health.

  • Hibi Konnyaku
    • Address 608-1 Minazawa Suwamae, Kaimonyama-shi, Yamagata
    • Hours: 9:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. (L.O. 3:30 p.m.)
      Closed: Tuesday (open if it is a holiday), January 1st.

Narage Region Retains a 'Shukuba-Cho' Feel

The Kaminoyama Narage Region where Tanno Konnyaku is located was a shukuba-cho (post town) along the Ushu Kaido (Ushu Route) that lead from Shichikashuku Miyagi Prefecture through Kanayama Touge to Kaminoyama. It was designated as a historical national route in 1995, top 100 historical roads in 1996 and a national historic site as Ushu Kaido Naragejuku.

The Daimyo’s procession for alternate attendance, workers, horse, and palanquin would go through Naragejuku. This area had plenty of water suited for oak trees and making konjac, so people traveling thought the area passed on how to harvest konjac.

▲Former Tanno Family House (Takizawaya) which was used as a sub-inn for government officials.
▲A building that retains the original atmosphere

We strongly recommend enjoying konjac desserts and dishes in the Narage Region where you can still feel the shukuba-cho atmosphere.

*This information is from the time of this article's publication.
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.

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