What is Wagashi
Wagashi are Japanese traditional sweets generally enjoyed with Japanese tea. Comparing to western sweets, dairy products or fats, oils are not used but beans and sugar are the main ingredients for Wagashi. Azuki beans are boiled with sugar and mashed to make anko. (Smooth anko is called koshian and chunky one is tsubuan.) This anko is very significant and used for almost all the Wagashi. Wagashi also has a strong connection with season that Japanese emphasizes the visual of wagashi so people can feel the beauty of each season. Wagashi can be bought at depachika (underground food floor) at department stores, super markets, wagashi specialty stores, and convenience stores. If you would like to have the finest wagashi, department stores are recommendable. This page introduces the most common wagashi and modern snacks very popular in Japan.
Variety of Japanese sweets
Senbei (Rice cracker)
Senbei are casual wagashi that come in different shapes and flavors. Soy sauce flavor and miso flavor are typical one but sweet sugar flavored senbei are also recommendable.
Manju (Sweet bun)
Manju is known as one of the oldest Wagashi. It is a bun filled with anko of red beans or chestnut beans. Hot spring areas through out Japan usually have its own Manju. Match tea goes really well with Manju.
Daifuku (Soft rice cake)
Daifuku is a soft rice cake filled with anko (sweet bean paste.) Flavored daifuku such as shio-daifuku (salt flavored daifuku) and ichigo daifuku (daifuku with strawberry) is also very popular.
Dango (rice dumpling)
Dango is often called as Japanese sweets dumpling balls. It is typically flavored in a sweet soy sauce, anko, or roasted soy bean flour. Dango is my favorite wagashi that I would love you to try!
Dorayaki is Japanese red bean pancake. Two small pancakes hold the anko. The famous Japanese anime, Doraemon’s yummy bun is this dorayaki.
Taiyaki is fish shaped cake with typically anko inside. Taiyaki also has different flavors such as custard cream, cheese, chocolate, matcha cream, caramel and more.
Monaka is wafers filled with sweet bean paste. Various shapes of wafers are sold that you may find your favorite cute one. The flavor of anko is very important to make the best monaka.
Famous senbei snack! Loved by many foreigners as well.
Pocky is like a straight pretzel covered with flavors. Pocky’s chocolate flavor is main but strawberry, matcha taste is also popular.
Jagariko is salty snack loved by Japanese. The flavor variety is wide. You can easily find Jagariko at convenience stores.
Country ma’am is very famous soft cookie. There are two flavors, vanilla and cocoa. It goes really well with milk!
Kit Kat is not a snack made originally by Japan but the flavors in Japan are famous for its uniqueness. Matcha flavor, Japanese sake flavor, Aomori prefecture’s apple flavor… the number of selections are incredible.
Both wagashi and Japanese modern snacks have its own features. Wagashi is mainly made by sweet bean paste and the visual is rather important as well. Wagashi is typically made as a snack to have with Japanese matcha tea so it really goes well together. When you’re in Tokyo, Asakusa is recommendable to find local wagashi. Japanese modern snacks are wide in its variety and flavors which is enjoyable.