Best paired with a hot cup of tea, wagashi are traditional Japanese sweets for special occasions. There are so many varieties of wagashi, but most are made with simple components such as mochi (rice cakes) and anko (sweet red bean paste). The craft of wagashi adheres to the simplicity and beauty of the seasons, and in the hands of a skilled wagashi master, these traditional Japanese treats can become stunning works of art.
If you're wondering where to find wagashi in Tokyo, read on for a list of seven popular wagashi shops!
General Types of Wagashi
When you think of wagashi, the very first type that comes to mind might be nerikiri wagashi, which is used in tea ceremonies and comes in a variety of beautiful seasonal designs. However, there are several other different types of wagashi.
Some popular wagashi include monaka (two rice wafers with red bean paste filling), dorayaki (two pancakes with bean paste filling), daifuku (mochi with red bean paste filling), yokan (traditional red bean jelly), higashi (dry confectionery), ohagi (like an inverted daifuku mochi), dango (rice dumplings on a skewer), and manju (steamed bun, usually filled with red bean paste). These wagashi can be found beautifully displayed at specialty Japanese dessert shops.
Learn How to Make Traditional Japanese Sweets
Learn how to make traditional Japanese desserts at home! Join byFood's Intensive Wagashi & Mochi Making Course, which includes 24 video tutorials and a handy recipe book. In the videos, Mai-san will teach you how to make daifuku mochi, Japanese raindrop cake, and 4 nerikiri designs, as well as how to prepare matcha tea. The ingredients are simple and easy to find wherever you are in the world, and the final designs are tiny works of art!
7 Wagashi Shops in Tokyo for Traditional Japanese Desserts
To satisfy your sweet tooth, here are a few wagashi shops in Tokyo where you can try these edible masterpieces.
- Kuromatsu Sogetsu Main Branch
- Akasaka Aono
- Kototoi Dango
- Chomeiji Sakura Mochi
Gunrindo is one of the best wagashi shops in Tokyo to get your daifuku fix, thanks to its popular mame-daifuku ("bean daifuku"). There are two categories of anko, or sweet red bean paste, frequently used in Japanese desserts. Koshi-an is a smooth-textured red bean paste, while tsubu-an has a chunkier texture. You can think of it like smooth or chunky peanut butter!
Gunrindo's mame-daifuku uses tsubu-an filling and a mochi exterior. Even the mochi has whole red beans in it, making for an interesting texture variation. It also has the right balance of sweetness and slight saltiness, just perfect to accompany a cup of tea. People line up for this special treat; come early so you won't miss out on this gem of a wagashi shop in Tokyo.
2. Kuromatsu Sogetsu Main Branch
If you like dorayaki, a Japanese dessert made of red bean paste sandwiched between two sweet pancakes, then Kuromatsu Sogetsu Main Branch is the wagashi shop for you. This special Japanese dessert shop has been around for over 80 years and attracts patrons, both local and foreign customers alike, just for their dorayaki.
Kuromatsu Sogetsu's dorayaki consists of tsubu-an (chunky red bean paste) and fluffy, soft pancakes with a strong brown sugar flavor and just a hint of honey. For only about 100 yen, you can satisfy your sweet tooth without leaving a dent in your wallet.
3. Akasaka Aono
Akasaka Aono is a wagashi shop in Tokyo that has been making some of the most delicious Japanese desserts for over a century. They have a variety of many treats ranging from the simple-looking yet delicious mochi to their delectable yokan (red bean jelly) and their bestselling Akasaka mochi, made with walnuts and brown sugar. You can have them all gift-wrapped in a furoshiki (a beautiful Japanese cloth used as wrapping), to present to loved ones.
Akasaka Aono also serves namagashi (literally "fresh confections") which you can enjoy in their dining area. Though this wagashi shop is a tad more expensive than the others, Akasaka Aono has been honing the craft of wagashi-making for over 100 years and is undeniably one of the best wagashi shops in Tokyo for high-quality Japanese desserts.
Using traditional, handmade methods with no preservatives or additives, Shiono, established in 1883, is one of the best wagashi shops in Tokyo. Shiono is known for gorgeous seasonal designs, making nerikiri that are inspired by the changing seasons. Nerikiri wagashi is a type of sweet made by a mix of shiro-an (sweet bean paste) and gyuhi (rice paste), which, much like marzipan, is sculptable. Their prices reflect the high quality of their products, made with carefully selected ingredients. While their wagashi are on the pricier end, these edible little works of art are worth it. Indulging in Shiono's wagashi is the perfect way to celebrate the changing of the seasons, or even just to treat yourself!
Ikkouan uses only the finest ingredients for their wagashi treats. Their bestselling warabi mochi, a jelly-like Japanese dessert covered in kinako (soybean) powder and drizzled with kuromitsu (black sugar syrup), is a favorite among the crowd. The shop only uses 100% bracken starch for its warabi mochi and the result is always exquisite and delectable. While it's a popular dessert in the summer, at this wagashi shop you can have it all year round. Come with your family and friends and enjoy a delicious afternoon tasting Japanese desserts at one of the best wagashi shops in Tokyo.
6. Kototoi Dango
Located near Sumida River, a famous spot for cherry blossom viewing, Kototoi Dango has been making kototoi dango since the late Edo period. In fact, this wagashi shop in Tokyo is the birthplace of this type of wagashi. Their tri-colored dango come in three flavors: white anko, red anko, and miso. The outside of the dango is made with silky smooth sweet bean paste, while the inside contains chewy mochi, and unlike other types of dango, kototoi dango are not covered in sweet sauce or skewered on a stick. The shop is extremely popular during cherry blossom season in Tokyo. During full bloom, many customers buy their dango to take to the nearby Sumida Park, home to over 500 cherry blossom trees.
Aside from their famous dango, Kototoi Dango also makes monaka, a type of rice wafer with red or white miso paste inside, shaped like the store's icon, the oystercatcher fish. Their tri-colored dango and bird-shaped monaka are often bought as gifts (omiyage).
7. Chomeiji Sakura Mochi
In the spring, Japan is crazy for sakura-inspired snacks, which are often popular treats like Kit Kats and Pocky in new, limited-edition flavors. But the traditional springtime dessert in Japan is sakura mochi, which comes in two types: Kanto-style mochi which is a flat piece of smooth mochi wrapped around anko (red bean paste), and Kansai-style mochi which has a chunkier texture of mochi than the Kanto-style. Both are served wrapped in a cherry blossom leaf.
Chomeiji Sakura Mochi is the birthplace of the former Kanto-style mochi, and has been making it since 1717. The store’s founder got the idea when he was pickling cherry blossom leaves with salt. Chomeiji's sakura mochi is served wrapped in two pickled cherry blossom leaves. Some customers remove the leaves before eating, while others enjoy the pleasant balance of salty sourness from the pickled leaves and sweetness from the red bean paste.