Near the Kamogawa River, the candy store Minatoya boasts being Kyoto’s oldest candy store, having opened in 1599. They only sell one item in their store. Their unique Ghost Child Care Candy that they have made exactly the same way for hundreds of years ever since a special visitor made it a point to buy the candy for her child.
The Candy Shop and the Graveyard
You will find Minatoya near Rokudochino-ji and Rokuharamitsu-ji Temple. This area, known as “Rokudo no Tsuji”, would once lead you to Toribeno, a large open-air grave in Kyoto. The nearby Rokujo Riverside was also a frequent execution site. For many years, the dead bodies of the unknown and the executed were left here. Scavengers, namely birds (the tori in Toribeno) would come and consume the decaying corpses.
Minatoya is some 500 meters away from the original site of Toribeno.
Today, it is hard to imagine this peaceful neighborhood as such a gruesome place.
The Minatoya’s Ghost Story: The Origin of Ghost Child Care Candy
The spooky tale of Minatoya and its mysterious candy goes as follows:
The Ghost and the Candyman
Once on a long-ago summer, the owner of a candy shop went to lock up at the end of a very dull day. Just as he was about to head upstairs for the night, he heard a knock on the door. When he opened the door there was a young woman standing before him. She apologized for the late hour, but she really needed to buy some candy. A little perplexed but not particularly alarmed, the man sold her the candy. After the woman left the candyman discovered that the money the woman used to purchase the candy become a leaf!
Every night, the same woman visited the shop. She would arrive at exactly the same time.
One day, the owner’s curiosity got the better of him and he decided to follow her. Alone in the deep night, he paid little mind to where he was going. Suddenly, the woman disappeared at the top of a hill in Toribeno.
The following day the owner went to a nearby temple and told a monk there about his encounter. The monk and the owner went to the hill where the mysterious woman vanished. There they found the fresh grave of a pregnant woman who’d died just several days before. As the two began to pray for the dead woman they heard— a crying baby?
The monk and the candyman dug at the soft grave soil. They opened the coffin and discovered the baby out of the grave, he found the baby suckling on the candy. The two realized the poor woman had indeed given birth after death, unable to feed him, she’d sought out the candy. Moved by the mother’s love for her child the monk took in the child and ever after the candy shop was known as “The Ghost Candy Store”.
Sampling Ghost Child Care Candy
The candy itself is made from maltose, so it tastes quite simple.
The amber color of the candy is so pretty that you might be tempted to decorate your room with it, instead of eating it.