Oyaki, sometimes called hodoyaki in Daigo, is a type of Japanese dumpling made from buckwheat traditionally filled with bean paste or wild vegetables. Oyaki has been made in farming households in Daigo since long ago, and is firmly established as a local specialty. However, due to the way that food culture and dietary habits have changed in recent years, opportunities to eat oyaki in Daigo decreased. Realising the importance of preserving this piece of Daigo’s history, in 1996 the local government decided to do something about it and began to research local oyaki. A decision was made to remodel Yokonoji Elementary School, which had closed down, into a facility dedicated to making oyaki. Thus, the Daigo Oyaki Gakkō was born, opening its doors on July 11, 1998. It is managed as a public-private partnership.
There are currently 10 varieties of oyaki made at the Daigo Oyaki Gakkō, each containing local fresh ingredients and designed to complement modern tastes. You can also purchase tsukemono (pickled vegetables) made from fresh local vegetables and wild plants, and woodwork made from trees grown on Mt. Yamizo.
On weekends the cafeteria is open from 11am to 3pm, serving soba and udon made from local ingredients. On sunny days, you can sit on the terrace and enjoy the breeze and beautiful view of the mountains while you eat.
The highlight of the Daigo Oyaki Gakkō is the Oyaki Workshop, where you can try your hand at making your own oyaki. We were allowed to make two apple and three pumpkin oyaki. The kind staff make the dough and prepare the filling for you in advance, so you get to do the fun part.
First we were instructed to roll the dough into a ball, then flatten it out and put the filling inside. Then, to our delight, we were told we could make it into any shape we wanted. Our instructor gestured to a picture on the wall of some Hello Kitty oyaki that somebody had made. Basically as long as the filling is completely covered, you can do anything you want!
Once your oyaki has been shaped, you can draw on it using brushes and some kind of liquid (I forgot to ask what it was made of. It kind of looked like soy sauce but it didn’t taste like anything). Again, you are free to draw whatever you like. Many people draw kanji.
After we had finished drawing on them, the instructor took our oyaki to the next room and put them on a hot plate for about 30 seconds each side. They were then transferred to a large steam oven to be cooked. When they were finished, the instructed stamped them with the Japanese word for pass as a souvenir for taking part in the workshop. The best part is you get to take home what you make, and they are delicious!
Times: 9:30am to 3pm
Adults: 800 yen
Children 12 and under: 500 yen