Kurikinton is a Japanese sweets made from chestnut. There are two different kinds of food called kurikinton. One is a sweets from Gifu prefecture, made by using sugar and chestnut, and is spelled 栗金飩. The other is new years food which uses chestnut paste or sweet potato paste, mixed with boiled chestnut and is spelled 栗金団. However, in this article, sweets from Gifu will be explained.
To explain more specifically, kurikinton as a local sweets is made by taking the skin off the chestnut, and simmered with sugar. The simmered chestnut will be mashed and strained, and squeezed with a cloth used in a tea ceremony. The taste of the chestnut itself is rich and does not rely much on the sweetness of sugar, and the texture is rather flaky than sticky. It is considered namagashi meaning raw sweets.
It is believed that Nakatsugawa city, Gifu prefecture, is where kurikinton was first made and became popular. There are many sweets shops in Nakatsugawa city which sell kurikinton, but also shops in other prefectures now sell kurikinton. The production of chestnut is nationwide from Hokkaido to Okinawa. But Nakatsugawa city produces lots of chestnut, and chestnut are traditionally eaten by boiling or roasting.
The similar food to kurikinton, which squeezed boiled chestnut with cloth, existed from before Meiji period (1868-1912), and in the middle of Meiji period, the sweets kurikinton started to be sold as a product. The reason why it became a famous sweets is because Nakatsugawa used to be a post-town where haiku prospered, and many haiku poets who visited were fond of eating kurikinton.