Seasonal wagashi you must try during your trip!


Japan has an extremely rich history of wagashi, which are traditional sweets and confectioneries that are often enjoyed together with green tea, or alone as a dessert. These confectioneries often have a more natural sweetness, and are tailored to suit the seasons. No matter when you'll be travelling, there will always be special seasonal wagashi you could try during your trip!

Summer

Kudzukiri 

image from http://www.kyojapan.com/gourmet/kuzu.html
This is a cold, sweet dessert perfect for summer. The transparent, slippery noodles are made from Kudzu, or arrowroot and has a jelly like texture. Originating from Kyoto, enjoying kuzukiri with a glass of iced matcha is considered a quintessential Kyoto summertime experience.

Mizu Manju

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Originating from Gifu, this popular Wagashi traditionally enjoyed with a cold glass of water; perfectly suited to summer! Also made with Kudzu, Mizu Manju usually comes with a filling made of red bean paste or matcha (green tea) paste.

Kingyoku

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Also called kohakukan (for coloured jelly), This summer confection is made from Kanten, or agar. Other ingredients such as white and red bean paste are used to create elaborate designs, with the goldfish pond being the most popular in summer (kingyo means goldfish in Japanese!)

Autumn

Kuri Manju

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This is a type of chestnut and sweet bean cake, which is both hearty and filling. Chestnuts, known as Kuri, are a popular Autumn foods. Whole chestnuts or chestnut paste is inserted   bean paste before baking to produce a sweet snack.

Tsukimi Dango

image from http://jpninfo.com/tag/tsukimi-dango
Literally meaning 'moon viewing' dango, this confectionery is popularly eaten during the mid autumn festival, where moon viewing is common practice. The round chewy dango, made from rice flour, represent the full moon and are offerings to show appreciation for a good harvest.

Momiji Manju

image from http://jpninfo.com/15894
A local specialty of Miyajima Island in Hiroshima, Momiji Manju is shaped like the Japanese maple leaves, which colour the whole country orange in Autumn. It is usually filled with red bean paste.

Winter 

Kagami Mochi

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This new year decoration and treat is easily recognisable due to the two round mochi- with the one on top being slightly smaller than the other. A daidai orange is then placed on top of the mochi. On kagami biraki, usually the 11th of January, the mochi is broken and cooked in ozenzai, a soup with mochi and azuki red beans.

Mame Daifuku

image from http://kyotofoodie.com/wagashi-kuromame-daifuku/
Kuromame are sweetened black beans that usually symbolize good health. During the new year, these beans are incorporated into mochi, instead of the usual azuki beans, creating the mame Daifuku. 

Zenzai

image from https://asia453.wordpress.com/culinary-capers/culinary2016/zenzai-shiruko/
Also known as Oshiruko, this sweet bean soup is served hot, perfect for winter! Grilled pieces of mochi are added into the soup. Depending on preference, the soup is either smooth or chunky, with bits of beans.  

Spring

Ichigo Daifuku

image from https://tokyobling.wordpress.com/2012/07/12/ichigo-daifuku-japanese-sweets/
Because peak strawberry season corresponds with springtime in Japan, these strawberry confectionery have become synonymous with spring. Usually, whole strawberries are encased in red bean paste and then stuffed in mochi.

Sakura Mochi

image from http://www.foodlibrarian.com/2010/03/sakura-mochi-for-japanese-girls-day.html
There is literally nothing in Japan that screams spring louder than sakura. red bean paste is stuffed within mochi coloured pink. Picked sakura leaves (which are edible!) are then wrapped around the mochi, creating the perfect Hanami (flower viewing) snack.

Hishimochi 

image from https://alchetron.com/Hishi-mochi
This symbolic wagashi is specially eaten during Hinamatsuri, or girl's day festival. The mochi is characteristically diamond-shaped and in three colours- pink, white and green, made from Jasmine fruits, water chestnut and mugwort respectively. 

Asha Mehta