In this article, we will introduce five regional sweets carefully selected from around Japan. Each one is a special treat beloved by locals. From innovative ingredients to interesting designs, we're sure you'll want to try all of these sweets when you're in Japan!
1. Zunda Mochi (Miyagi)
Zunda mochi is one of Miyagi Prefecture's local sweets, known for its bright green color. The main ingredient is, in fact, edamame! This unique Japanese sweet is made by mashing edamame into a paste and using it to top mochi (rice cakes). The slightly sweet mochi and the rich aroma of the edamame work together to make a really delicious sweet. Zunda mochi is available to purchase in Sendai Station, Sendai Airport, around Tokyo Station, and Haneda Airport, among other places. At Zunda Saryo in Sendai Station, you can enjoy zunda mochi with green tea and salted kelp for 630 JPY (incl. tax).
2. Agemanju (Tokyo)
Manju is a treat made with sweet bean paste wrapped in a thin flour dough wrap, and is one of Japan's most common traditional sweets. A type of deep-fried manju called "agemanju" is popular all across Japan. Deep frying the manju enhances its flavor by adding an accent to the texture and bringing out the sweetness of the bean paste. Agemanju is said to originate in Fukushima Prefecture, but it is available in Tokyo as well. Asakusa Kokonoe in Asakusa, an area that is always busy with tourists, specializes in agemanju. Here you can choose your favorite agemanju from a selection of 11, including the standard flavor (130 JPY) and matcha (130 JPY).
3. Izumo Zenzai (Shimane)
Izumo zenzai is a Japanese sweet that originates in Shimane Prefecture. Made by cooking adzuki beans with sugar and adding mochi or shiratama (rice flour dumpling), this is a dessert with a gentle sweetness. Shimane is famous for Izumo Taisha, a Shinto shrine that is said to grant good luck in matchmaking. In front of Izumo Taisha, there is a street called Goen Yokocho that is filled with souvenir shops and places to enjoy local Shimane foods. Izumo Zenzai Mochi, located on this street, serves izumo zenzai to eat in store as well as special varieties to take away as souvenirs, too.
4. Karukan (Kagoshima)
Karukan is a famous sweet from Kagoshima Prefecture characterized by its fluffy and chewy texture. Its main ingredient is jinenjo, a type of mountain yam, that gives this sweet its unique texture. Karukan manju, which is filled with sweet bean paste, is also well worth trying. A famous shop selling karukan is Akashiya. At the main store, you can purchase items such as the standard Karukan No. 8 (1,296 JPY (incl. tax)) and Karukan Manju Pack of 8 (1,512 JPY (incl. tax)). There is also an eat-in area to try the karukan in store, so be sure to stop by.
5. Ikinari Dango (Kumamoto)
Ikinari Dango is a local confection from Kumamoto Prefecture. This flour based steamed dumpling is filled with a pretty two-layered filling of sweet potato and sweet azuki bean paste. This simple but lovely confection has a slightly salty flavor to the dumpling that goes perfectly with the sweet potato and azuki filling. You can find this sweet at Kumamoto Airport and Kumamoto Station.
Did one of these Japanese sweets pique your interest? We hope you'll take the chance to enjoy local Japanese sweets during your travels!
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.
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