An innately cultural product that’s strongly associated with tea ceremonies, wagashi covers the umbrella term for delicate Japanese sweets, traditionally crafted using plant-based ingredients. This means that more often than not wagashi are vegetarian and vegan-friendly, made from sweet ingredients like mochi rice cakes, azuki red bean paste, rice flour, and sesame paste. Enjoyed at cafes and tea houses, wagashi are the perfect accompaniment to balance out the bitterness of matcha. Gorgeous to look at and delicious too, production and demand for wagashi surged during the Edo era, although the term came later during the Meiji period to preserve the legacy of beautiful Japanese sweets against the rise of modernization and Western influences.
Minimal and unique with regional and seasonal varieties, Japan’s prefectures have each developed their own signature wagashi using local ingredients and specially adapted preparation methods. While Kanazawa takes ultimate pride in producing colorful sweets, wagashi shops line the streets in Kyoto selling cinnamon flavored yatsuhashi, and street stalls in Hiroshima sell momiji-manju shaped like autumn leaves. From to steamed manju buns to red bean dorayaki pancakes, or tri-colored dango in spring, discover local wagashi during a traditional sweets tour or learn how to create your own handmade nerikiri at a beautiful wagashi making class. Intrinsically ingrained in Japanese culture, appreciate wagashi first hand during one of our unforgettable wagashi experiences.