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Eat them in spring when the cherry blossoms bloom! 5 Recommended Wagashi in Tokyo

Wagashi are traditional Japanese confectionery with detailed appearances that reflect the changing seasons. In the spring, the stores like up products that look like flowers or use seasonal fruits so you'll be able to feel the season both with your vision and your sense of taste. Here are 5 recommended wagashi to buy while in Tokyo!

1. Onkashi Tsukasa Shiono's Namagashi

This is a well-established wagashi shop that opened in 1947. They offer a large variety of products throughout all four seasons, but something that's particularly recommended is the cute Namagashi (starting at 370 JPY each). Namagashi is a generic name for wagashi that are made with a high water content so they're moist and soft. There are various types of namagashi, including some made of azuki anko (a paste made of boiled red azuki beans and sugar) or gyuhi (glutinous mochi rice flour boiled with sugar and other ingredients to make a paste) molded into shapes. There are many sweets made with detailed craftsmanship, and in the spring many wagashi with cherry blossom motifs make their appearance! About ten different types are released monthly (the number may also vary) and the lovely appearances as well as refined sweetness are the reasons behind this shop's popularity.

*Photo is for illustration purposes

1. Onkashi Tsukasa Shiono's Namagashi

2-13-2 Akasaka, Minato-ku, Tokyo

2. Ginza Kanra's Ichigo Daifuku

This popular shop has various branches outside of the main branch in Ginza. It's a shop famous for their mame daifuku (azuki anko and green peas wrapped in mochi and steamed), but in the spring the recommendation is definitely the ichigo daifuku (237 JPY (incl. tax) each), in which a strawberry is wrapped in anko and mochi. Usually, ichigo daifuku are made using brown azuki anko, but this shop uses white shiro anko made with common beans for a cute, spring-like appearance. The fresh strawberry is sweet and sour, and the shiro anko has a gentle sweetness, so this is a treat that will make you feel like spring has arrived the moment you take a bite.

*Photo is for illustration purposes

2. Ginza Kanra's Ichigo Daifuku

Saki 6-2 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo

3. Akasaka Aono's Sakuramochi

This wagashi shop is famous for having been loved by Steve Jobs. Among their wide variety of products, their recommended spring-limited product is the sakuramochi. Azuki anko is wrapped in thinly grilled dough made from wheat flour, then that's wrapped in a salt-pickled cherry leaf. It's a standard spring treat for Japanese people that has the lovely smell of cherry blossoms. Sakuramochi is made differently depending on the region such as Kansai and Kanto, and this shop sells Kanto-style sakuramochi. Kansai-style sakuramochi makes the dough from domyojiko, a type of coarse rice powder made from steamed glutinous rice. There are shops in Tokyo that also sell the Kansai-style sakuramochi, so it might be interesting to try them both and compare.

*Photo is for illustration purposes



*Photo is to illustrate Kansai-style sakuramochi

3. Akasaka Aono's Sakuramochi

7-11-9 Akasaka, Minato-ku, Tokyo

4. Takagiya Shinise's Kusadango

This is a popular shop in the working class area of Tokyo. There are two branches on the road leading to Shibamata Taishakuten, a Nichiren Buddhist temple with one offering take-out and souvenirs and the other one a cafe. They're famous for their kusadango (350 JPY for 5, starting at 650 JPY for 12 pieces for take-out). It's made by taking the new buds of Japanese mugwort and kneading them into mochi, then topping that with azuki anko. It's characterized by a refreshing flavor. Also, depending on the shop, there are various ways this wagashi is made. The mochi may be filled with anko, and it is also called kusamochi or yomogimochi. The flavor and aroma are both very spring-like, and it's a very refreshing treat.

*Photo is for illustration purposes

4. Takagiya Shinise's Kusadango

7-7-4 Shibamata, Katsushika-ku, Tokyo

5. Awaya Soubei's Sakura Monaka

This popular shop has various branches around Tokyo. They sell many different kinds of products, but their spring-limited recommended item is the sakura monaka (216 JPY (incl. tax) each). It's a cute product shaped like a cherry blossom. Monaka is a traditional wagashi made of azuki anko sandwiched between two thin skins made from steamed then baked mochi flour. Most monaka are usually crunchy, but this monaka is known for its moistness. The filling is sakura anko (shiro anko made with cherry blossom liqueur), and wonderfully chewy gyuhi mochi. The sweet cherry blossom aroma is perfect for spring.

*Photo is for illustration purposes

5. Awaya Soubei's Sakura Monaka

7-2-25 Oizumi Gakuencho, Nerima-ku, Tokyo

There are many wagashi shops in Tokyo selling limited-edition spring products, not just the ones listed. Please enjoy Japanese spring by going around different shops!

*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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