A Look at Japan’s Sweeter Side: 10 of the Nation’s Best Traditional Snacks

A Look at Japan’s Sweeter Side: 10 of the Nation’s Best Traditional Snacks


2019.01.09

NAVITIME TRAVEL EDITOR

A Look at Japan’s Sweeter Side: 10 of the Nation’s Best Traditional Snacks

Every year countless visitors flock to Japan to eat incredible local food. From the meticulous art of sushi to the hard-working ramen chefs pumping out bowl after bowl of noodles, there’s no argument, Japan does food better than most. One overlooked aspect of the Japanese culinary scene, however, are traditional sweets. Each unique to the area from which they hail, the legacy of Japanese sweets goes far deeper than its western contemporaries, to prove it, here’s a guide to some of the best.

  • 01

    Isuzu Chaya, Ise, Mie

    Isuzu Chaya, Ise, Mie

    Isuzu Chaya, Ise, Mie

    Isuzu Chaya is home to some of the best sweets in all of Mie. This traditional style tea shop not far from the iconic Ise-jingu Shrine serves up matcha tea, classic Japanese treats, and some western influenced snacks too. When it comes to choosing, mochi (rice cakes) are the best bet. You’ll find plenty of different options including sweet potato filled daifuku, mochi strawberries, and arguably the most impressive, whole oranges covered in mochi.

    Isuzuchaya Main Branch
    rating

    4.5

    40 Reviews
    place
    Mie Pref. Iseshi Ujinakanokirichou 30
    phone
    0596223012
    opening-hour
    8:00-17:00[Cafe] 9:30-16:30
  • 02

    Kuri Kinton, Kiso Valley, Nagano

    Kuri Kinton, Kiso Valley, Nagano

    Kuri Kinton, Kiso Valley, Nagano

    In English ‘kuri kinton’ translates to ‘chestnut gold mash’ made from sweet potato and chestnuts it’s sweet and symbolic dessert said to bring good economic fortune to those who eat it. Typically eaten during new year celebrations, it’s a cozy wintery dessert; however, you can enjoy it all year round. The Kiso Valley in Nagano Prefecture is famous for its obsession with chestnuts especially from the end of September onwards. If you’re in the area and want to pick up a local specialty sweet, make it this.

    Okashi Sawada Ya
    place
    Nagano Kiso-gun Nagisomachi Yomikaki 3592-9
    phone
    0264572272
  • 03

    Miso Soft Cream, Suyakame, Nagano

    Miso Soft Cream, Suyakame, Nagano

    Miso Soft Cream, Suyakame, Nagano

    Miso is typically a paste saved for hot soups, so mixing it with sweet, creamy soft serve sounds about as unlikely a combination as you can get. A cafe-restaurant called Suyakame shop in Nagano City came up with the unique ice cream flavor sometime during in their 100-year miso making history, and although it may sound questionable, it’s a match made in heaven, like a Japanese version of salty caramel.

    Suyakame
    place
    Nagano, Nagano Prefecture Nishi-go-cho, 625
    phone
    0262354022
  • 04

    Hirado Tsutaya, Nagasaki

    Hirado Tsutaya, Nagasaki

    Hirado Tsutaya, Nagasaki

    Originally a Portuguese dessert, the Casdoce cake is as rich in history as it is delicious. It’s made by dipping pieces of Castella (Japanese sponge cake) in egg yolk and boiling in syrup to create a crisp outer shell. Hirado, a city in Nagasaki, was one of the first points where Japan traded Europe with and it said to be the point where Portuguese missionaries who made their way to Japan first shared the cake. If you are on this side of the country, head to Hirado Tsutaya’s four Nagasaki outposts to try it for yourself.

    Hirado Tsutaya
    place
    Nagasaki Hirado-shi Kihikidacho
    phone
    0950238000
  • 05

    Nakatanido Mochi, Sanjo Dori Street, Nara

    Nakatanido Mochi, Sanjo Dori Street, Nara

    Nakatanido Mochi, Sanjo Dori Street, Nara

    Sitting at the top of Nara’s famous tourist street, Sanjo Dori Street is where you’ll find Nakatanido Mochi, one of the most popular sweet stores in the city. The team at Nakatanido are some of the fastest mochi pounders in Japan. Multiple times every single day visitors flock to the store to watch mochi makers perform 'mochitsuki,' the process of pounding rice to make mochi cakes. The only thing that could outdo the show the Nakatanido workers put on is the mochi itself, sweet, chewy, and delicately flavored, once you’ve tried Nakatanido mochi, nothing compares.

    Nakatanido
    rating

    4.0

    355 Reviews
    place
    Nara Pref. Narashi Hashimotochou 29
    phone
    0742230141
    opening-hour
    10:00-19:00
  • 06

    Fugetsudo Manju Confectionary Shop, Ibaraki

    Fugetsudo Manju Confectionary Shop, Japan

    Fugetsudo Manju Confectionary Shop, Japan

    If you’re a fan of mochi, but want to try something a little different, manju could be the Japanese sweet for you. It’s a more classic cake-like version of mochi made from flour, rice powder, and buckwheat and typically filled with a sweet red bean paste known as anko. Originally from China where it’s known as mantou, it’s been enjoyed by Japanese people for almost 700 years. One of the most highly recommended places to try manju is at Fugetsudo in Hitachi City in Ibaraki Prefecture. This traditional style sweet shop has been making classic Japanese sweets for over 70 years, and their manju is perfection.

    Fugetsudo
    place
    Ibaraki Hitachi-shi Juocho Yamabe 1773-1
    phone
    0294393015
  • 07

    Sakura Mochi, Japan

    Sakura Mochi, Japan

    Sakura Mochi, Japan

    As the icy winter begins to melt, the anticipation for the arrival of the famous cherry blossoms begins to set it. You’ll know it’s the beginning of spring once you see the soft pink balls of sakura (cherry blossom) mochi appearing on supermarket shelves, in sweet stores and tea shops across the country. Different regions have their unique styles of sakura mochi, but a highlight is the Kansai-style sakura mochi, small round balls of glutinous rice flour filled with sweet red bean paste.

  • 08

    Ameshin, Asakusa, Tokyo

    Ameshin, Asakusa, Tokyo

    Ameshin, Asakusa, Tokyo

    Amezaiku is a type of traditional Japanese sweet that’s so beautiful you won’t want to eat it. Equal parts candy and artisinal mastery, amezaiku originated in the 8th century, and it’s a technique used to create small edible artworks by heating sugar into a soft, malleable form to create mini sculptures that look like they should be on display in a gallery. One of the best places to see it up close is at Ameshin in the traditional Tokyo neighborhood of Asakusa. If you want to try making some for yourself, the shop also runs workshops at their Hanakawado Studio, but be sure to book in advance.

  • 09

    Momijiya, Shionomisaki, Wakayama

    Momijiya, Shionomisaki, Wakayama

    Momijiya, Shionomisaki, Wakayama

    Nestled among the natural beauty that fills Wakayama’s Shionomisaki Peninsula is where you’ll find a piece of Japanese culinary history, the 100-year-old Momijiya sweet shop which has remained with the same family since its inception. Famous for its natural approach to making wagashi (Japanese sweets) the store’s most famous product is an adzuki bean-based sweet known as yokan, a thick jelly-like treat made from an old family recipe.

    Momijiya Honpo
    rating

    4.5

    7 Reviews
    place
    Wakayama Pref. Higashimurogunkushimotochou Shionomisaki 470
    phone
    0735623960
    opening-hour
    9:00-17:00
  • 10

    Suzushi Toushirou, Yamaguchi

    Suzushi Toushirou, Yamaguchi Prefecture

    Suzushi Toushirou, Yamaguchi Prefecture

    If you’re in Yamaguchi Prefecture, you can’t leave without paying a visit to Suzushi Toshiro. The popular candy store sells a variety of traditional Japanese sweets, including mochi, and baked cakes, all using iconic Japanese flavors like matcha and anko (sweet azuki beans). The perfect place to pick up something special to take home, Suzushi Toshiro have stores in Tokyo too so keep an eye out.

    Toshiro no Sato Sakura-an
    rating

    4.0

    34 Reviews
    place
    Yamaguchi Yamaguchi-shi Ouchimihori 1-1-3
    phone
    0839252882
    opening-hour
    7:00-19:00 (9:00-18:00 for N…

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