Kiku-ya: A traditional Yokohama cake shop

By Etsuko Yamada    - 3 min read

Do you have any sweet memories from your childhood? My sweetest memory is of a cake named “Rum Ball” from the cake shop and tea room, “Kiku-ya (喜久屋)”, at Motomachi, Yokohama. The shop, established in 1924, is very close to the Motomachi-Chukagai Station of the Minatomirai-line. The building, which sits among many globally well-known brand stores like Brooks brothers and Godiva, has never been affected by trends: As far as I know Kiku-ya has sold exactly the same cakes for the last few decades!

Their most famous cake (and my favorite as I mentioned above) is “Rum Ball”, a ball-shaped chocolate cake. The shop says, “It is a rum-flavored sponge-type cake, filled with raisins and  covered in chocolate.” However, my mom says, “It is a chocolate-coated round-shaped cake made of cake crumbs.”

This is a very Yokohama-esque taste for me because on special occasions like my birthday in my childhood, my mother always used to buy some cakes from this shop after my piano lesson. But for children, “Rum Ball” is a taste for adults. Therefore, she allowed me to choose my favorite from among their three cheapest cakes: Chocolate, Mocha roll, and Lemon. The Chocolate cake is different from the “Rum Ball”, which is a rectangle-shaped cake with dark chocolate flavor. For a child, it is a bit bitter. The Mocha roll is a coffee-flavored cake roll. I liked the soft texture of the sponge-type cake. The Lemon cake is the sweetest one of them all, covered by lemon icing. I loved this lemon cake because of the sweet taste and the lemon color. However, in those days, I longed to eat “Bavarois” whose surface was beautifully decorated by fruits. I ate it just once as far as I can remember although I hardly remember the taste. I might have just been attracted by the beautiful decoration. Those three cakes still exist in the showcase of this shop and they are still the cheapest. Of course, “Bavarois” is still more expensive than the three others.

Because of such memories, whenever I eat any Kiku-ya cakes I have a very different type of special feeling than when I eat expensive cakes from globally famous cake shops like Fauchon in Paris and Demel in Vienna. Now, as an adult living in Yokohama, the best one for me is the liquor-flavored cake, “Rum Ball”. Even though the piano in my house was sold years ago and I almost forget how to read music, my sweet memory is still vivid.

I highly recommend you try Kiku-ya’s “Rum Ball” and create your own special memory of your visit to Yokohama!

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Etsuko Yamada

Etsuko Yamada @etsuko.yamada

One of my hobbies is taking a walk in historical towns becasue it is an easier way to feel relaxed and enjoy atmosphere than hiking.Luckily, I live in a conveninet place, able to access Yokohama, Kamakura, and Tokyo.Yokohama is my hometown. So, I am happy if my view point and tips can help you on your visit to Japan.

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wings 7 years ago
Motomachi is such a delightful place. There seems to be so much to do there, and lots of restaurants to go along with the history. Kikuya has been around almost 100 years? Amazing!