Sweet treats to beat the Japanese summer heat!

Summer in Japan can get pretty hot and humid, but it's also a great excuse to stuff your face with cold, sweet Japanese desserts! If you're travelling to Japan during this time, here is a list of desserts to look out for to keep cool as you explore.
Image from http://greencilantro.blogspot.sg/2011/07/anmitsu-japanese-dessert.html?m=1
This is a traditional Japanese dessert made from agar agar, sugar syrup, gyuhi, fruits and red bean paste. It can be found in many restaurants all across Japan, and is actually also pretty easy to make yourself (For the recipe, visit the website the image is from). The combination of the jelly with the fruits is definitely one of my favourites. For summer, try out cream Anmitsu which is served with ice cream!
Here's a borrowed dessert that Japan has perfected. The pastry, which is topped with cream and various fruits has become incredibly popular throughout Japan and can easily be found in street-side shops (including several shops in the very famous Takeshita street in Harajuku). They come in a variety of different flavours, and are a real delight on a hot day! Occasionally you can also find mobile vendors selling them near parks, or in my case, outside my university.

Like crepes, parfaits are not native to Japan. Even so, this 50% cream, 50% cake and 100% delicious dessert has become hugely popular there. They have also been modified to include more Japanese flavours, including matcha and red bean, but if you don't like those flavours, you can always get classics like chocolate and strawberry. These tend to be a bit expensive, but hey, there's nothing wrong in treating yourself once in a while!
Image from http://kirbiecravings.com/2016/09/mochi-ice-cream.html
Mochi is a Japanese rice cake that can be eaten plain or filled with everything from fruits to red bean paste. This means that the chewy treats can also be found with cream and ice cream fillings which are great for hot days! Mochi are also really easy to make, and this gives you all the freedom to customise them as you like. But if you don't have the time, you can always buy them ready made in supermarkets or shops selling Japanese confectionery.

Soft serve ice cream
I've said it before and I'll say it again- Matcha soft serve ice cream should be a national treasure. Sweet and creamy, this is the ultimate indulgence on a hot summer's day. If matcha isn't your thing, don't fret- these ice creams come in other more typical flavours such as vanilla, and some outlandish flavours such as black sesame and even gold leaf. Stalls selling soft serve ice cream can be found near many tourist attractions (for Kyoto at least).

Image from http://www.vncs.ca/wordpress/category/summer-social-tanabata/
Finally we have Japan's version of shaved ice, Kakigori. This is a popular street food that is practically synonymous with summer festivals but can also be found in some cafes and street-side shops. The shaved ice is topped with sweet sugar syrup of all flavours and colours, making this a favourite among children. This is one of those foods that really scream 'summer is here'!
There are plenty of ways to keep cool during summer, but desserts are definitely my favourite! So have fun trying new things as you explore around, as the types of desserts found in Japan are definitely not limited to this list.

Asha Mehta