25 Delicious Must-Try "Wagashi", Or Japanese Desserts

While most, if not all, travelers sightseeing through Japan surely have Japanese food like sushi, tempura, and okonomiyaki on their list of things to eat, surely they need sweet items to cleanse their palettes! Through its history, Japan has developed a distinct culture of sweets and desserts, spanning from sweet dumplings, cakes, and jellies, to drier crackers and fried items. "Wagashi" is the term for these traditional Japanese confections, and its many different types are suitable for different seasons and occasions. This article will help you get to know all the different Japanese delicacies, so you will know what to order the next time you visit a Japanese tea shop!

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Nama-gashi

Nama-gashi comes in a wide selection of sweet cakes. They are usually made from sticky rice flour (mocha-gome), kanten (agar-agar), an (sugar and bean paste), and wheat flour.

1. Nerikiri

Made from sticky rice flour, sugar and white bean, Nerikiri is usually molded into shapes such as flowers, fruits or birds to represent the seasons.

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2. Mizu-yokan

Famous during the summer, Mizu-yokan is made from azuki beans, sugar, and kanten.

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3. Mushi-yokan

Mushi-yokan is made by steaming the mixture of an and wheat flour. This confectionary usually comes with chestnuts.

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4. Neri-yokan

Similar with Mizu-yokan, neri-yokan is made from azuki beans, sugar and kanten but with less water.

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There are many special seasonal varieties of the Japanese desserts described here, for special holidays or reflecting the changes of the seasons. Read this article for a few examples!

5. Manju

One of the most famous wagashi, Manju is made from wheat flour filled with an. It comes in dumpling-like shape.

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6. Monaka

Round or square shaped wafer filled with an, Monaka is usually big and quite filling.

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7. Ohagi

Ohagi, or botamochi, are sweet rice balls which are usually made with glutinous rice. They are commonly eaten during the higan periods in spring and autumn. 

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Ohagi is a broad category of sweets, with varieties coated with red bean paste, soybean flour, and walnut flour, among others. For a fuller introduction to this delicacy, its history, and how to best enjoy it, check out this article below!

8. Sakura-mochi

A small pink mochi, Sakura-mochi usually filled with azuki beans paste and wrapped with a sakura leaf.

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9. Kuzu-zakura

Filled with azuki bean paste, kizi-zakura is made from transparent jelly of kuzu (arrowroot). It is usually served chilled during the summer.

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10. Kusa-mochi

Another mochi filled with azuki beans, kusa-mochi is a dumpling shaped made from rice flour with yomogi leaves.

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11. Chimaki

Wrapped in bamboo leaves, chimaki is a sweet rice dumpling.

12. Kashiwa-mochi

Kashiwa-mochi is a rice-flour dumpling filled with an. Unlike Chimaki, Kashiwa-mochi is wrapped with oak tree leaves.

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These desserts are all traditional Japanese desserts with long histories and general prominence, but there are also dessert-makers throughout the country that are constantly innovating new sweets. Some of them have been extremely popular, to the extent that they have become well-known specialties of their prefecture! Read this article for ideas on what to try as you visit the different regions of Japan:

13. Daifuku

Daifuku is a large amount of an wrapped in a very thin layer of mochi.

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14. Kushi-dango

Kushi-dango is small rice-flour balls held on a stick. They are usually coated with sticky sauce made from soy sauce and sugar.

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Hi-gashi

Hi-gashi is basically the dried form of wagashi.

15. Rakugan

Rakugan is made from glutinous rice and sugar. The dough is shaped using a wooden mold.

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16. Sembei

Sembei are rice crackers.

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17. Okoshi

Made from rice and wheat, okoshi is a toasted cake where it is coated with syrup before it is dried.

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If you're interested in any of the wagashi sweets listed here, and would like to try them out, what better place to do so than Kyoto, the beating heart of traditional Japan? Here is a list of sweets that you can get in Kyoto, including where you can get them.

Namban-gashi

Namban-gashi are cakes brought to Japan by the Spanish and Portuguese during the 16th century.

18. Kasutera (Castella)

A sponge cake made of wheat flour, sugar, and eggs.

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19. Boro

A type of cookie, boro is made from wheat flour, sugar, and eggs.

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20. Kompeito

These are a little sugar balls made from syrup and corn starch.

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Zatsu-gashi

A cheaper kind of Japanese confectionary, Zatsu-gashi are simple snacks suitable for daily tea sessions.

21. Tai-yaki

Tai-yaki is a kind of pancake filled with red bean paste.

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If you'd like to try these desserts but you're closer to Tokyo, then Asakusa is a great place to taste these sweets! Read this article for descriptions of what to get and where:

22. Ama-natto

Different kind of beans such as azuki or kidney beans are boiled then sprinkled with sugar.

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23. Karinto

Karinto is fried strips of dough made from wheat flour, sugar, and eggs. This crunchy finger food is then sprinkled with sugar.

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24. Chitose-ame

Also known as the “thousand year candy”, Chitose-ame is boiled mizu-ame (glucose).

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25. Daigaku-imo

Daigaku-imo is basically fried sweet potatoes coated with sticky syrup and kuro-goma (black sesame seeds).

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The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.

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