Enjoying Japanese wagashi, or traditional Japanese sweets usually made of bean paste and mochi, is a delicious way to celebrate the cherry blossom season in Japan. The tiny confections are known for being meticulously handcrafted by true experts, their aesthetics elevated by a breathtaking beauty and fragility not found in your typical dessert-eating experience. In this enticing video tour, byFood host Shizuka Anderson samples sweets at three different historic wagashi shops near Tokyo's Sumida River in a search of special sakura-themed sweets. Which unique seasonal wagashi styles will Shizuka discover?
The area Shizuka explores is called Asakusa, a district renowned by tourists for its historic Japanese shops, temples, and architecture. Asakusa's famous Sensoji Temple is a must-visit on any first trip to Tokyo. So while you're there, be sure to try the wide variety of traditional Japanese sweets and treats Shizuka introduces at these shops along the nearby Sumida River!
The first stop on Shizuka's wagashi tour is Kototoi Dango in Mukoujima, Sumida-ku, Tokyo. Here at this 130 year-old restaurant, Shizuka samples three different flavors of dango, or soft rice cakes: red bean paste, yellow miso-flavored bean paste, and white bean paste. Which flavor would you enjoy most?
Then she ventures to Chomeiji Sakuramochi, a shop famous for their highly traditional sakura mochi, or cherry blossom-flavored mochi wrapped in pickled sakura leaves. According to rumor, this shop founded in 1717 may be the origin of sakura mochi itself! Learn the differences between the typical sakura mochi and Chomeiji's version in the video.
Last but certainly not least, Shizuka visits Shiono, known for their nerikiri wagashi made with malleable white bean paste and molded into beautiful nature-inspired shapes. At Shiono, wagashi artisans handcraft delicate flowers and animals that change based on season. Visit in cherry blossom season for pink sakura and yellow canola flower wagashi, and come back in the fall for orange momiji wagashi that mirror the changing autumn leaves!
As Shizuka discovers, all of these wagashi go great with green tea, complementing the mild sweetness of the mochi and bean paste with the satisfying bitterness of Japanese matcha.
Watch to find out which seasonal wagashi offerings Shizuka recommends most!
Curious about learning to make handmade wagashi for yourself? Join this Nerikiri Wagashi Class in Tokyo with Matcha Green Tea to create adorably unique sweets like the ones Sumika sampled at Shiono! Mai will walk you through the wagashi-making process step by step in her own Tokyo residence until you're confident in your Japanese confectionery prowess.
You can also browse these wagashi experiences in Tokyo for anything from vegan food tours that include wagashi to traditional wagashi courses for any skill level, from beginner to expert-in-the-making.
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