With the growing popularity of Instagram in Japan, pictures of cute and colorful desserts and mouth-watering dishes seem to be everywhere in social media. Photogenic sweets are all the rage.

Toteyaki: Nasushiobara's local specialty dessert

Nasushiobara (alternatively spelled Nasu-Shiobara, 那須塩原 in Japanese) in Tochigi Prefecture is one of Japan's most famous hot springs towns. While you may have heard about its soothing hot baths, did you know it also boasts a tasty specialty which you can only enjoy there?

Perfect for those times when you're feeling a bit peckish but don't want to stop your stroll through town, "Toteyaki" (とて焼き in Japanese) really hits the spot. Made with milk and eggs locally sourced from Nasushiobara farms, they're not crepes or even dorayaki pancakes but an altogether new and different kind of snack!

When you visit Nasushiobara, you might enjoy a ride on one of these horse-drawn tour carriages which take tourists around town. Apparently, Toteyaki got its name from the "to-teh to-teh" sound when they honk their old-fashioned horns!

Wrap yourself up in the world of Toteyaki

Since Toteyaki is a treat which you can't find anywhere else, it's really worth trying it out for yourself!

Once you arrive at this famous hot springs town and make your way to the main street, you'll be greeted by the sight of traditional restaurants unchanged for generations. At every corner, you'll find shops offering mouth-watering Toteyaki, each one more original than the next.

One thing you'll notice about Toteyaki is that they come in an incredible variety of flavors. If you've got a sweet tooth, then there's a Toteyaki for you! Everything from parfait-like creations filled with fruits and cream, to Japanese style Toteyaki containing anko (sweet red bean paste) and kuromitsu (Japanese molasses), it's a dessert-lover's paradise.

(Left to right. Top row: Shiobara Monogatarikan "Veggie Soft Tote," Eitaro "Kimagurena Tote," Kameya Honpo "Wa-Sweets Tote," Imaiya Seika "Kuromitsu Kinako Tote." Bottom row: Wakamatsudo "Wafu Tote," Fujiya "Fruits Parfait Tote," Miyudo "Wa-Kohi Cool Tote," Suzukiya "Tochiotome Yogurt Tote.")

But what really makes Toteyaki one of Tochigi Prefecture's best kept secrets is that they're not only limited to desserts. In fact, you'll also find savory Toteyaki of all kinds! Versions crammed with braised pork belly, chicken meatballs or cream croquettes, even soba noodles and tempura. If you can think of it, there's a good chance you'll find it under wraps in a Toteyaki just for you.

(Left to right. Top row: Hanamizuki "Kurikoro Tote," Choshiya "Kakuni Tote." Bottom row: Yunohana-sou "Yunohana Jidori Tote," Yuzukamiya "Soba Mai Curry Tote.")

Each one of these delectable wraps is an original dish created by the local restaurants and inns of Nasushiobara. They're perfect for a light lunch!

Totally Mind-Blowing Toteyaki

After enjoying some interesting and original Toteyaki, you might be ready to head for the hot springs. But wait! There's one Toteyaki in town which is so astonishing, so rule-bending and innovative, it's worth taking one more detour.

As soon as you arrive, you might be surprised when you see the sign "Koraku Sushi" 幸楽寿司. When you order a Toteyaki, this is what the chef will serve you:

Inside the wrapper, which already looks different than other Toteyaki you've ever seen, you'll discover soy-marinated tuna, salmon roe, egg, pickled gourd and cucumber! It's a sushi roll in Toteyaki form!!

Now, we know that the word "sushi" is inside "Nasushiobara," but this is ridiculous!

According to the chef, this original take on the Toteyaki tradition is called "Sushi-Tote".

In order to make it go well with rice, he prepares the wrapping in the same style as the tamagoyaki egg used in sushi, and adds salmon roe to keep it moist. Not only is it visually surprising (especially if you've only seen sweet Toteyaki versions), but the wrapper is soft like tamagoyaki and perfectly matches the sweet and salty ingredients. There's no mistaking it, "Sushi-Tote" is a one-of-a-kind taste sensation which could only have come from a sushi shop.

And there you have it! 13 different Toteyaki in Nasushiobara. Which one will you try?

Seven baths in seven colors?! Hot spring baths are unique too!

When it comes to having to choose from a dizzying range of possibilities in Nasushiobara, Toteyaki doesn't have the market cornered. It's the same with their hot springs!

Surrounded by natural beauty, the baths of the Shiobara Hot Springs Village (塩原温泉郷 in Japanese) have enticed many greats of Japanese literature who found that their beneficial waters soothed them heart and soul.

(Left to right. Top row: Milky-white "Keiunkaku," green-white "Gensenkan," gold "Wanpo no Yado," brown "Myogaya (outdoor). Bottom row: Black "Ooidekan," grey "Meikaya (indoor), clear "Sakamoto.")

As it turns out, Shiobara Hot Springs Village is very unusual in the world of hot springs, being a literal treasure box of baths in seven different colors: milky white, green-white, gold, brown, black, grey and clear; each with different properties and beneficial effects. You can choose to soak in each one in turn or find the one with the effects you consider most beneficial to you.

Nasushiobara can both satisfy your hunger and relax your body. You're sure to find your own special way of enjoying this unique destination.


Official Website of the Nasushiobara Office of Tourism


Koraku Sushi 幸楽寿司
725 Shiobara, Nasushiobara-shi, Tochigi-ken 329-2921 栃木県那須塩原市塩原725-1
Open from 11 am to 3 pm and 5 pm to 10 pm (closed Mondays)
Tel: 0287-32-2061

By - Ben K.