To see, eat, and photograph! Carefully selected Wagashi 4 - Early Summer
Do you know an anime where a cat-type robot loves eating “dorayaki”? The anime is popular around the world, so a lot of people besides Japanese must know the title. This dorayaki is a representative wagashi (Japanese confectionary) made from anko in between two round buns, and because of the anime, the dorayaki has become known worldwide. I have heard that at Japanese confectionary shops, you can have a lively conversation if you mention “dorayaki” as an example when explaining to foreigners what wagashi is. The anko (*) is essential to “dorayaki” as it is for all wagashi. It's no exaggeration to say that a popular wagashi shop always makes great tasting anko. I would like to show you the charm of wagashi while introducing you to some popular shops that have an established reputation for delicious anko.
(*) Boiled beans such as red beans kneaded with sugar. In some cases, sweet potatoes, chestnuts, etc. are used besides beans.
The talent and skill of the craftsmen shine in wagashi of the four seasons
Japan has four seasons, and you can enjoy tasting and seeing those seasons in the food. You can enjoy them in wagashi as well, and I especially would like you to enjoy the skills of the wagashi craftsmen depicting the seasons. In early summer, they make confectionaries designed and crafted to make them look like fresh green, hydrangea, green plum, and more. Because the temperature is rising at this time of year, the wagashi become juicier and refreshing. I also recommend wagashi that have a fragrant green tea flavor during the newly-picked tea season.
Wagashi artisans pass tradition on to the next generation
Japanese “kashi (confectionary)” is said to have its roots in fruits and nuts. “ka” means fruits and “shi” means seeds, and confectionaries were called “kashi.” It is said that modern day wagashi was created during the Edo period, before Japan opened the country to the world in 1854, inspired by Chinese tea ceremony culture and western confectionaries. During the 200 years of national isolation, wagashi went through unique developments. Now that many foreign tourists visit Japan, some wagashi artisans have been creating wagashi for the world. At well-established wagashi shops, you can taste new wagashi inspired by modern times as well as the traditional types. You may enjoy eating and comparing the two types.
Four wagashi shops where you can find the elegance and taste of early summer
A long-established shop that owns the signboard that reads “Japan's first manju shop” - “Shiose Sohonke”
It has been more than 660 years since they started business. This long-established wagashi shop is the first in Japan to make manju with red bean anko inside. It is said that that their manju were presented to military commanders during the civil war period, such as Nobunaga Oda, Hideyoshi Toyotomi, and Ieyasu Tokugawa, and the warriors loved the manju. All their manju are hand-made. They are particular about the ingredients, and have never changed the recipe, tradition, and taste of old times.
I recommend these manju that depict the four seasons, sold only from mid-May to mid-August. Best for 10 days (unopened).
On the first floor, yokan (sweet jelly), yakigashi (baked confectionary), jonamagashi (high-grade fresh confectionary) and more as well as their famous manju are sold.
“Shiose Sohonke Honten”
●7-14, Akashicho, Chuo-ku, Tokyo
●03-3541-0776 (main number)
●Closed on Sundays and national holidays
*other stores are located at Matsuya Ginza, Daimaru Tokyo, and Takashimaya departments stores.
Depicting the beautiful four seasons with their Kyogashi - “Kyo Kasho Tsuruya Yoshinobu”
Established in 1803, they are a long-established Kyogashi (Kyoto confectionary) store. They have many shops throughout Japan. The ones in Nihonbashi, called Tokyo Mise, Tokyo and Kyoto Honten (main store) have spacious selling areas and also counter seats called “KayuJyaya,” where you can see the artisans make wagashi right in front of your eyes. They also have a teahouse where they serve unbaked sweets, at their Tokyo store, bread toast topped with bean jam and mascarpone, and Japanese-style parfait. How about trying some freshly made wagashi?
At the Tokyo store's “KayuJyaya,” they always have three types of unbaked sweets of the season, and at the teahouse, you can enjoy a set of unbaked confectionary of the season with matcha tea.
“Mizorekan” that is cool to the eyes are sold during early-June to mid-August. They have a long shelf life (35 days after production). Along with “Kogata yokan,” (180 days after production) they make great souvenirs.
"Kyo Kasho Tsuruya Yoshinobu Tokyo Mise"
●COREDO Muromachi 3 1F, 1-5-5, Muromachi, Nihonbashi, Chuo-ku, Tokyo
●Store: 10:00-21:00, Teahouse / KayuJyaya 10:30-20:00 (L.O. 19:30)
●Closed on New Year's Day
A well-established wagashi shop that keeps using their original recipe – “Onkashitsukasa Nakamura-ken”
They started business in 1883. When making tsubuan (coarse anko), they still use the old method of gradually warming up the ingredients by burning split oak. The not-so-sweet tsubuan is popular because you can taste the ingredients. Along with the shop building, this is a place you can see Japan of old.
Some wagashi will give you a cool feeling. The wagashi sold from early summer to summer depicting hydrangeas is popular among foreigners, too.
The manju with a delicate sweetness made from strained white bean paste covered with a bun that has a strong matcha taste is sold only during the season of fresh tea.
●61, Katsuraasaharacho, Nishikyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto Prefecture
●Shop: 7:30-18:00 Café: 9:30-18:00 (L.O. 17:45)
●Closed on Wednesdays (except when it is a national holiday)
Creates innovative wagashi – “Kasho Hanakikyo”
This wagashi shop in Nagaoya has valid skills passed down from the older generation, and a modern sense of making wagashi. Hanakikyo's roots come from “Kikyoya,” a shop that was appointed to provide confectionaries to the feudal lord Yoshinao Tokugawa, founder of the Owari-Tokugawa family, which was the subsidiary line of the shogun family during the Edo period. Hanakikyo creates wagashi under the theme of “tradition passed down and innovation.” Baked confectionaries such as the dorayaki and yokan that are traditional wagashi, have a stable reputation, but their beautiful innovative fruit confectionaries are also popular.
Daifuku-like mochi with Shine Muscat inside, and Namamizu Yokan with fruit
They have a space where you can buy wagashi that you like and have matcha along with it
“Kasho Hanakikyo Honten”
●1-20, Shiojicho, Mizuho-ku, Nagoya-shi, Aichi Prefecture
●Closed on New Year's Day
*Other stores are located at Nagoya Sakae Mitsukoshi and JR Nagoya Takashimaya department stores
*The above information was last updated April 19, 2018. For further information, please contact the facilities directly.
"Like" if you think this article is interesting