Hamadaya restaurant entrance.
Tofu Restaurant Hamadaya.
Sesame and fresh water
"Pure water and the pure heart of the cheese maker: without this, the tofu won't be good"
dixit the IMAI family in Japanese Seasons, Nicole-Lise Bernheim (1999)
In Buddhism, love of good food is not directly considered as forbidden. Certainly, the monks must content themselves with the bare minimum and eat the frugal yet delicate shojin Ryôri (monastic vegetarian cusine), however, the monks of Koyasan allow themselves a little something extra, gomadofu.
This tofu is different from the others in that it is not soy based but sesame seed based. The Imai family, proprietors of the Hamadaya store, produces the best samples in the sacred city. The secret of their reputation? Some say it is the virtues of the pure water source, which springs on their land and which each customer can taste. As for Nicole-Lise Bernheim, she examines the effects of repeated prayers of the family members before the brewing vats.
The fact remains that the home-made gomadofu of Hamadaya, which also makes soy based tofu, has an unforgettable taste, driven by production techniques dating back several centuries. Served swimming in a soy sauce base and decorated with a dab of wasabi (green Japanese horseradish) or with plenty of sugar as a dessert, gomadofu is a must of monastic cuisine.