Wagashi (和菓子) are traditional Japanese sweets that are typically enjoyed in combination with a cup of green tea. They are made in a wide variety of shapes and consistencies and with diverse ingredients and preparation methods. Some are popular across the country and around the year while others are only available regionally or seasonally.
Sweet azuki bean paste (anko) is a central ingredient in a large number of Japanese sweets. Boiled azuki beans are sweetened with sugar and mashed to create either smooth anko (koshian) or chunky anko (tsubuan). Other common ingredients for wagashi include rice cakes (mochi), rice flour, Japanese agar (kanten), sesame paste and chestnuts.
Momiji-manju making machine
Wagashi can be enjoyed at selected cafes, restaurants, temples and gardens where green tea is served. They can also be purchased at specialty sweet shops, department stores, supermarkets, convenience stores and food stands. Kyoto has particularly many sweets shops, while the Nakamise shopping street in Asakusa is a good place to sample Japanese traditional sweets in Tokyo.
Below are some of the most common wagashi types that tourists are likely to encounter: