“Imo-kenpi” is Kochi prefecture’s go-to sweet snack.
While the word “imo” simply translates to “potato” in Japanese, the origin of the word “kenpi” is a bit more difficult to pinpoint. There are various theories ranging from the fact that it’s a shortened version of the word “katai higashi” (hardened dried sweets) to the fact that it’s called “kenpi” because of its shape (similar to a “ken,” or “sword” in Japanese). No matter the origin, “Imo-kenpi” has been a simple staple snack since the Edo period requiring only sweet potatoes, sugar and oil to make.
This time, we’ll be introducing the famous “freshly-fried imo-kenpi” at a popular store which specializes in imo-kenpi, “Imoya Kinjiro” in Oroshidanchi.
The entrance of “Imoya Kinjiro.”
In addition to the spacious parking lot, the exterior is also gives off a stylish atmosphere. Heading inside, store visitors are immediately greeted with an array of imo-kenpi galore.
Apparently, there’s a strict rule here that all of the “freshly-fried imo-kenpi” sent from the main store in Hidaka must be made within the last 12 hours–no wonder the imo-kenpi are super soft and warm! It’s on a completely different level from store-bought imo-kenpi: this is a definite must-try for sweet potato fans.
There were also freshly-baked sweet potatoes next to the imo-kenpi!! If you’re not quite a fan of the fried stuff, why not go for the classic baked-potato?
In addition to the classic, other types of imo-kenpi such as salted and fine-cut are also available, making this a great stop for souvenirs to bring back home. Imo-kenpi made at “Imoya Kinjiro” are truly amazing: not only are they made using natural ingredients, but they are also carefully managed during production. From the temperature of the oil and amount of honey to the selection of the types of sweet potatoes depending on the kinds of sweets being made, the processes is quite minutely-managed.
For those who are not much of a fan of sweets, sweet potato shochu (traditional Japanese hard liquor) from the “Wakamatsu Shuzo,” a sake brewery in Kagoshima with a long history of making this specific type of shochu, is also available for purchase.
Lastly, this facility also happens to come attached with a cafe which offers visitors cafe-only limited sweets as well as original coffee made to go especially well with imo-kenpi. Whether you’re looking for a place to get souvenirs from Kochi, or just a place to relax, “Imoya Kinjiro” is a good place to start!
「芋屋金次郎」”Imoya Kinjiro” Oroshidanchi Branch
Address: 14-25 Minamikubo, Kochi-shi, Kochi 780-0087
Hours of Operation: 10:00 AM ～ 7:00 PM (Cafe last order: 6:30 PM)
Holidays: None (closed during end and beginning of the year)
Access: Take the bus from Harimaya Bridge stop towards 「医大病院」or “Idaibyoin.” Then, get off at 「卸商団地前」“Oroshidanchi-mae” and walk 4 minutes.