5 Japanese Confections in Kyoto to Feel the Coming of Spring

Wagashi (traditional Japanese confectionery) is the delicate representation of the changing of seasons in Japan. When spring comes, shops in the country become filled with spring-like products such as items that symbolize sakura (cherry blossoms) and other flowers that bloom during the season. Here are five recommended Japanese confections that you can buy from shops in Kyoto, the home of wagashi.


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1. Sakuramochi from Chikujian

The first recommended shop on the list is Chikujian that is located in the Arashiyama area, a popular tourist spot in Kyoto. Out of the various kinds of products that it sells, the Domyoji Sakuramochi is the confection that people look forward to as a product that is only available in spring. Made by putting sakura-flavored anko (sweet red bean paste) inside the dough and then wrapping it in a salt-pickled sakura leaf, sakuramochi is a staple Japanese confection for spring among Japanese people. The dough used for this sweet varies depending on where the confection was made, such as in the Kanto or Kansai region. Kanto-style sakuramochi uses dough from lightly roasted flour with water, while the Kansai-style sakuramochi uses doumyojiko (course rice powder made from steamed glutinous rice). Chikujian sells the latter type. Sakuramochi is the kind of sweet that is perfect for the season as it will let you smell the faint aroma of sakura.

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2. Hana Dango from Demachi Futaba

The next shop on the list is Demachi Futaba, a popular store that always has a line of customers in front. This shop is particularly famous for its mamemochi (confection made by wrapping anko and red peas in mochi and then steaming it), winning fame all over Japan as a confectionery shop that best represents Kyoto.
Aside from the mamemochi, Demachi Futaba also sells a lot of other Japanese sweets. But when spring sets in, you have to try the hana dango (175 JPY (incl. tax) each). Generally called “hanami dango,, this sweet is sold in the form of pink, white and green sweet mochi dango dumplings on a skewer. There are various theories on why there are three colors of dumplings on the stick, including a theory about how it represents the cherry blossom, and another saying about how it symbolizes events in spring such as sunshine, lingering snow, and the opening of buds.
The Kamo River, a famous spot for cherry blossoms, flows right next to this shop, so how about tasting the hana dango while marveling the beauty of the cherry blossoms along the river?

※Photo is for illustration purposes

3. Uguisu Mochi from Nakamuraken

Nakamuraken has a history spanning more than 130 years. This shop sells many simple and delicious Japanese sweets that are made by chefs who spend a lot of time and effort by using tools from the old days, but the item that would most make you feel that spring has come is the Uguisu Mochi (230 JPY (incl. tax) each). This standard Japanese confection that starts to appear in the racks in front of the shop in early spring is said to represent the image of an uguisu (Japanese bush warbler), a green bird that symbolizes spring.
Nakamuraken’s famous product is made by wrapping anko from white soybeans and green peas in gyuhi (rice powder kneaded with sugar and other sweeteners then steamed) and then topped with sprinkles of aokinako (soybean flour made from roasted and ground green soybeans). It has a natural color that does not come from artificial food coloring, so this product looks a little delicate and beautiful, while its taste is also superb.

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4. Sakura Sakura from Shichijo Kanshundo

The next shop on the list is Shichijo Kanshundo, a well-established confectionery store that dates back to 1865. It is a famous shop that began in Kyoto and now operates branches all over Japan.
This shop’s recommended product that best fits spring is the Sakura Sakura (810 JPY (incl. tax) for a box of 13 pieces). Classified as a higashi (dried confectionery), this is a traditional Japanese confection that is made by spreading and roasting sticky mochi on an iron plate and grinding it into powder, adding sugar to the powder and then putting the mixture in a wooden form to make various shapes.
The Sakura Sakura shown here uses wasanbon (refined Japanese sugar) from the Shikoku region and as its name suggests, it takes the form of a cherry blossom flower. You will enjoy its melt-in-your-mouth goodness, refined sweetness and pretty appearance.

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5. Namagashi from Tsuruya Yoshinobu

The last shop on the list is the well-established Tsuruya Yoshinobu that is famous all over Japan. This shop opened in 1803, and has continued making wagashi since then. It is also known to constantly create innovative food products that meet the needs of the changing times, however.
Featured on this list is Tsuruya Yoshinobu’s Namagashi (432 JPY (incl. tax) each), a traditional dessert that comes in various flavors every season. This soft confectionery that contains a small amount of water is rolled to shape with red bean paste from azuki beans and gyuhi.
In the spring, this shop offers a wide array of beautiful namagashi items, such as those that resemble cherry blossoms and other flowers in season. With their subtle sweetness, they’re the perfect companion to matcha tea and green tea.

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Traditional Japanese sweets can make your day brighter just by looking at them. Try to taste these confections that will charm your eyes and your tongue with the flavors of spring!

Kansai Feature

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

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