The hot spring town of Hakone has attracted visitors for centuries, serving as the entrance to Tokyo for those making their way from the cities of Kyoto or Nara. Naturally, Hakone once boasted many inns and teahouses, which thrived by catering to travelers.
The Amazake-chaya is one—and the last remaining—of such teahouses, established in the early 1620s. It has been damaged by fires and earthquakes several times over the course of its history, but each time the owners simply renovated and carried on. Most recently, the building was renovated in 2009 and restored to how it used to look in the Edo period (1603-1868), complete with a thatched roof.
The teahouse is named after its signature drink, amazake, a sweet, low-alcohol or non-alcoholic sake made from rice and kōji mold that has been enjoyed in Japan for over a thousand years. The Amazake-chaya’s recipe for its amazake dates back to the Edo period, and its sweetness comes from the fermented kōji mold instead of sugar. A hot cup of the teahouse’s amazake and a plate of mochi are all that’s needed to give visitors a tasty glimpse into the past.
Know Before You Go
The teahouse is open year-round from 7 am to 5:30 pm. It’s right in front of the Amazake-chaya bus stop, connected to Hakone-Yumoto and Moto-Hakone; the bus usually comes every thirty minutes.
The signature amazake is 400 yen, and, since it's non-alcoholic, children may drink it too. You can also take out the drink as a souvenir for 750 yen.