Inoko mochi (a rice cake imitating a little wild boar) (亥の子餅)

Inoko mochi' is a rice cake cooked on inoko (the day of boar).
It is also called 'Gencho mochi.'
People eat it at inokoku (the hour of boar, or around 10:00 pm) on inoko (inohi of inotsuki) (the day of boar in the month of boar or October under the old calendar). It is used as kigo (a season word) of haiku (Japanese seventeen syllable poems) to represent the winter season.

Many confectioneries sell Inoko mochi in October under the old calendar (or November according to the solar calendar) rather than in October of the solar calendar.


Since its name includes a chinese character "亥" that means a wild boar, some Inoko mochi are colored like a bore's or marked with an image of wild boar seared on its surface by a hot branding iron. Beside a simply colored Inoko mochi cake in red or white and one covered with boiled azuki beans, there are many differently shaped and colored ones, using different materials such as soybeans, azuki beans, black-eyed peas, sesame seeds, chestnuts, persimmons, wheat glutens and so on, depending on the region. Thus, there is no specific shape, color or material for Inoko mochi.


According to an article in 'Kokon yoranko' (an illustrated encyclopedia) publihed in 1905-1907, there had already been a description of Inoko mochi as an item for one of annual events in the Imperial court in the book of 'Kuroudo-shiki' (rules of officials in charge of classified documents) compliled by TACHIBANA no Hiromi. Because TACHIBANA no Hiromi lived in the Jogan era (around 9th century) of the Heian period, it may be assumed that Inoko mochi cakes were cooked as an item for an Imperial ceremony in Jogan era at the latest though the time of their origin is unknown.

Annual Imperial events:

In the past, Inoko mochi cakes were delivered as an Imperial gift to a large number of retainers in the Imperial court on the first wild boar days in October under old calendar.

Inoko mochi were presented to the Emperor from Nose people, as well as cooked inside the Imperial court. Depending on a retainer's officiary title, the color of Inoko mochi (either black, red or white) to be given and the designs of its wrapping paper were strictly specified. For example, black Inoko mochi were given to Court nobles or other lower ranked retainers, and red ones to retainers of higher ranks than Court nobles but not higher than shihonno tenjobito (the fourth-ranked courtiers allowed into Imperial Court). Imperial grant of Inoko mochi was performed in three times, but colors were different each time. It is said that they changed colors of Inoko mochi (black, red and white) each time for appreciation purpose.

Annual Event of the Muromachi Shogunate:

The Muromachi Shogunate celebrated its annual event of Inoko-iwai or Gencho-shinjo (a celebration of little wild boars by presenting Gencho mochi) on the first day of boar in October under old calendar.

Annual Event of the Edo Shogunate:

As an annual event, the Edo Shogunate held Gencho-no-iwai (a celebration of wild boars) in honor of little wild boars..

Gencho-no-iwai was held on the first day of October, every year. People had a custom to put a light in irori (an open hearth), to heat a pot hung over it, and to put lighted charcoal in a brazier.
At five o'clock in the evening of the first day of October, every year, the Shogunate summoned daimyo (feudal lords) and other officials to Edo-jo Castle, where seii-taishogun (literally, a great general who subdues the barbarians) gave each of them a gift of Torinoko mochi (oval rice cakes) in white, red, yellow, dark brown and light green, with which they withdrew from the castle at the hour of dog (from 7 to 9p.m.)

The general, feudal lords and other officials who participated the Gencho-no-iwai at Edo-jo Castle were required to wear noshime-nagakamishimo (plaid long kamishimo, a kind of official wear of samurai class people). In the evening of the day of the Gencho-no-iwai, bucket-type bonfires were lit at Honmaru (a donjon), Ote-mon Gate (a main gate) of nishinomaru (a western citadel), Sakurada-mongai (outside of Sakurada-mon Gate) and Gejousho of Edo-jo Castle.


Until 1870, Inoko mochi cakes had been presented to the Imperial Court from Kishiro, Kirihata and Omaru villages of Nose district in Settsu Province (current Toyono-cho town, Osaka Prefecture) annually on the day of boar in October under old calendar. This based the following folklore about Inoko mochi, being carried down by the people of Nose district.


In December in AD 200, Empress Jingu dispatched troops, headed by herself as a commander-in-chief, to conquest Sankan (three old Korean Kingdoms).
After her return to Tsukushi Province, she bore a prince (Emperor Ojin.)

In February in AD 201, she left Toyurano-miya Imperial Residence in Anato and took a sea route to Yamato with a troop of lords and officials under her command. On her triumphant return to Yamato, Kagosaka and Oshikuma, the older paternal half brothers of the newly born prince, felt envy at anticipated ascension of the new prince to the crown in future. The two princes, stepchildren of Empress Jingu, conspired together to kill their half brother, and headed a large army against him. While waiting for arrival and landing of their enemy, they entered into a mountain in Nose district (Osaka Prefecture) and held 'Ukeigari' (prayers for fortune-telling) to augur their victory or defeat in the coming battle.

If you are destined to win the battle, you may get a good animal,' they were told. After a short time, a big wild boar appeared in front of prince Kagosaka and jumped on him. In surprise, prince Kagosaka climbed on a nearby big tree, but the wild boar dug out the root of the tree and finally killed him. Being told of the boar that killed Prince Kosaka, Prince Oshikuma wondered about and feared of the boar so much that he retreated his army to Sumiyoshi.

Being informed of the story, Empress Jingu ordered TAKENOUCHI no Sukune to subdue Prince Oshikuma. Prince Oshikuma lost the battle, withdrew to Uji City of Yamashiro Province and further to Seta of Omi Province and finally died. After these events, Empress Jingu and her prince returned in glory to the capital city Yamato. Later, Empress Jingu deceased and her prince (Emperor Ojin) assumed the throne. Emperor Ojin, who remembered the boar that had saved him from danger when he was a prince, issued an imperial edict to make it a festive custom for the people of Kishiro, Kirihata and Omaru villages in Nose district to present kugo (emperor's meal) on the day of boar in October every year, which is now believed to be the origin of the custom to present Inoko mochi cakes of Nose district to Imperial court.

Cooking Process:

Cooking process of Inoko mochi cakes (also called Nose-mochi) to be presented to the Imperial Court from Nose district in the early modern times was then referred to in the description 'Kinri Kenjo Nose no Oinoko' (Nose's rice cakes presented to the Imperial Court).

At the beginning of October, inoko-yakunin (an official in charge of Inoko festival) on duty presented himself at a catering section of the Imperial Court and made a ritual 'Gosu-ukagai' to ask how many number of go (a unit of quantity) of Inoko mochi were required. Then, the catering section would make a ritual 'gosho sage' to render a description of order quoting the number of go (a unit of quantity) of Inoko mochi to be submitted, according to which Inoko mochi for the Imperial Court were prepared.

One go (a unit of quantity) meant one carton. The quantity of Inoko mochi to be presented to the Imperial Court annually was not fixed, but it stood in a range from about one hundred to one hundred and fifty goes (cartons).

On the day, seven days prior to the day of boar, each house preparing Inoko mochi cakes for the Imperial Court had invited monks of either Zenpuku-ji Temple of Shingon sect (also called Dondoro Taishi Zenpuku-ji) in Kishiro village or Hossho-ji Temple of Hokke sect in Kirihata village in order to hold an incantation to purify the places, instruments and wells for cooking of Inoko mochi, in advance of commencing their cooking process.

Wash, purify and souse glutinous rice in water.

Then, put the glutinous rice in seiro (a bamboo steamer) and steam it.

Prepare azuki beans separately, and mix them with the steamed rice.

Throw the steamed rice mixed with azuki beans into a tub called "nerioke" that is shaped like shitodaru (a barrel of four-to or about 72-liters), and knead them by two sticks calling out "Ei Ei." Then before long, sticky rice colored in boar's rose-pink is made.

Pack the rice cakes in a box of about 18cm length, about 12cm width and about 4.5cm depth, and pour onto the cakes the remnant paste of azuki beans that had been left in the kiln after boiling azuki beans.

Put six pieces of chestnut cut in a thin square shape on the rice cakes and azuki bean pastes, and further cover them all by two leaves of kumazasa (veitch's bamboo).

It is said that each rice cake is an imitation of boar meats, while chestnuts and kumazasa imitate boar's bones and fangs respectively.

[Original Japanese]