Genkotsu-ame (literally translates to Fist Candy) is a specialty of the Hida (Takayama) region of Japan. It is one of the most popular sweets made in the area, and can be found in just about every souvenir shop in Takayama. They can even be found in supermarkets and convenience stores as well.
It is relatively easy to make. First, soybean powder is mixed with mizuame (literally translates to water candy). Mizuame, a starch syrup and Japanese sweetener, is usually made by converting rice or potato starch to sugars and looks and tastes much like corn syrup. Sometimes green powder tea, chocolate and other ingredients are also added to the genkotsu-ame for flavoring.
Once the main ingredients are mixed together, the mixture is kneaded and coated with soybean powder, green powder tea, sugar or other items. This is then rolled into 1 ½ centimeter thick rolls and finally cut into bite-size pieces about 2 centimeters long.
I recently took a tour group to Takayama, and ran across this stand in the Miyagawa Morning Market. I was immediately impressed with the enthusiasm the person showed while cutting the candy. I really like the genkotsuame, so I had to purchase a bag. It was certainly the freshest and tastiest genkotsu I had ever eaten before. It was easy to understand why there were a lot of Japanese people waiting in line.