【Tokyo】Three Souvenir Sweets that Express Japan
Winter vacation is just around the corner! If you're coming to Tokyo or going home from Tokyo, have you decided on souvenirs yet? Below are three carefully selected shops that sell Japanese sweets that are perfect to take home as gifts. Of course, you can include them in your going out plans, or enjoy eating at these shops, too!
This is a shop in Tokyo where you can enjoy the traditional sweet, zunda mochi, which people in the Sendai region have loved for ages. Edamame beans are known as a healthy, nutritional food with plenty of protein, vitamins, and minerals. The edamame used in zunda mochi are young beans, harvested before they ripen and turn yellow. They can only be harvested for three or four days in the summer. They have a stronger taste and scent than most edamame, and only those with particularly strong aromas are selected. Professionals blend these beans themselves to create a refined flavor.
Zunda mochi is made by smashing boiled edamame into a paste, and then mixing it with freshly made mochi (rice cake).
To preserve the fleeting flavor that can only be tasted for a short period of time during the summer, the zunda mochi are flash frozen. In addition to standard zunda mochi, you can also find: Fukimame Dorayaki, which consists of fukimame bean paste sandwiched in-between pancakes; Zunda Shake, which was introduced on television as a shake made with carefully chosen milk that’ll let you enjoy the grainy texture of zunda; and Zunda Manju, which wrap up zunda filling in a yam dough.
There are also Western-style sweets, such as roll cakes and cheese cakes, with zunda in them. Shops with cafes on-site, such as in Sendai, also serve zunda anmitsu and bavarois sets. There are many items that are sold only in specific areas or shops, including the Zunda Daifuku in the Daimaru Tokyo branch, and the Kintoki-imo Soft Serve Ice Cream at the Pasar Hanyu branch’s cafe. Some items can be purchased online. There is a shop in Daimaru Tokyo, which is close to Tokyo Station, so it is convenient for souvenir shopping or for a little break.
Address: Daimaru Tokyo Branch 1F, 1-9-1 Marunouchi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
Hours: Weekdays: 10:00 am - 9:00 pm; Weekends and Holidays: 10:00 am - 8:00 pm
Access: Connected to the Yaesu North Exit of JR Tokyo Station
This is an obanyaki specialty shop run by Tokyo Hiyoko, which is famous for their Hiyoko sweets. It is located in ecute Ueno, within the gates of JR Ueno Station. Obanyaki is a sweet that’s traditionally made with a filling of azuki bean paste that’s cooked in a batter. The obanyaki at this store is distinguished by its batter, which is made with ingredients that have been carefully selected for their aroma, as well as by a fluffy texture that stays soft, even when it is cold. There are two flavors: the Azuki (dark) with a filling made of azuki beans from Hokkaido, and the Baby Panda Custard that’s filled with a custard made of plenty of vanilla beans (124 JPY each, 496 JPY for a pack of four, 744 JPY for a pack of six).
The Matcha Azuki (145 JPY each, 580 JPY for a pack of four, 870 JPY for a pack of six) flavor was introduced in April 2017. The Azuki and Matcha Azuki are branded with the hiyoko (chick) brand that Hiyoko is known for, and the Baby Panda Custard is branded with a cute image of a panda mother and child.
Address: ecute Ueno, 7-1-1 Ueno, Taito-ku, Tokyo
Hours: Monday – Thursday: 8:00 am - 10:00 pm *Friday: 8:00 am - 10:30 pm, Sunday and Holidays: 8:00 am - 9:00 pm
Access: In JR Ueno Station
This is Japan's first – as well as the world's first – shop that’s dedicated to the Japanese traditional craft of "amezaiku" (candy art). Since its opening in 2008, it has appeared on many TV, magazine, and radio programs to spread the word about the wonderful world of amezaiku.
Amezaiku is a traditional craft that was once popular throughout the country. Amezaiku Yoshihara has taken it to a new level by adding modern design elements. Yoshihara's new amezaiku that retains a sense of nostalgia without feeling dated continues to surprise and amaze its customers.
In Japan, Amezaiku Yoshihara primarily creates amezaiku for small festivals, international cultural exchange events, wedding receptions, corporate parties and receptions, and as novelty goods.
Amezaiku Yoshihara is also active abroad, and participates in international cultural exchange events that introduce Japanese culture, cultural seminars at local schools, and receptions by Japanese corporations. Currently, cute and cheerful postcards by the color pencil artist, Hitomi Kawai, of the adorable Amepyon (amezaiku rabbit that acts as the mascot of the store), are also available (10 different designs available, each at 150 JPY). These popular postcards are perfect to use as postcards or as a message card for special days. They also make wonderful decorations. Handmade silver jewelry, made in the image of Amepyon, are also available.
The store also gives demonstrations, so you can see the amezaiku that are sold transform from "ame" (candy) into "amezaiku".
Each item has a unique Japanese feel to it, and is appropriate to send as gifts to friends living abroad. Enjoy selecting the perfect item for your friend while imagining the joy on their face.
■Amezaiku Yoshihara Sendagi Main Store
Address: Tomoe Bldg. 1F, 1-23-5 Sendagi, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo
Hours: 12:00 pm - 7:00 pm (registration for demonstrations end at 6:00 pm)
Access: 3 minutes on foot from Tokyo Metro Sendagi Station
Amezaiku Yoshihara Sendagi Main Store
[This article was originally published in Walkerplus on 12.08.2017]
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.