Author: Kumi

Wagashi-holic who lives in Tokyo. Favorite Wagashi is Daifuku (Anko Mochi).
What is Senbei? Super crunchy Japanese rice cracker

What is Senbei? Super crunchy Japanese rice cracker

Do you know Senbei, Japanese rice cracker? It is very crunchy, crispy and everyone’s favorite! (⌒¬⌒*)

Senbei is a little different from other Wagashi that I am introducing as usually tastes salty, but I am sure you will love it too!


What is Senbei?

Senbei is popular Japanese type of rice cracker that is crunchy and crispy. Usually it is round shaped,flat and made from rice. To make Senbei, you knead rice dough, shape it flat and thin, grill it on an iron pan until it gets nice and toasty, and finally season it with soy sauce or salt.

Related post: top 10 popular japanese sweets (wagashi) that japanese like the most!

There are various of Senbei in terms of texture, shape and taste. Its texture can be hard and crunchy, or light and fluffy. Typical taste of Senbei is soy sauce or salt, but it also can be seasoned with sugar. In addition, some Senbei have rich flavors of multiple ingredients such as plum, shrimp, seaweed and many others.



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You can buy Senbei almost everywhere in Japan. If you step into a convenience store, you will find many kinds and types of Senbei just like potate chips. You can enjoy Senbei with Japanese tea of course but many Japanese people love Senbei together with beer!



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The history of Senbei

Senbei has a long history, and apparently, have existed since the former Han dynasty in China (3B.C.~ 1A.C). After that, Senbei said to have been passed on to Japan from China sometime between 6-8th centuries. At that time, they were made by mixing water with wheat flour and frying with oil. They were different from the rice crackers today that are mostly made with rice.

As for the birthplace of Senbei made with rice in Japan, it is thought to be Soka city in Saitama Prefecture. Soka city has had abundant rice crops since a long time ago and was visited by many tourists as a sightseeing spot.

Also, it was close to Edo (the current Tokyo), so it is also thought that it was influenced by Edo food culture. Many Senbei(s) are still being sold as souvenirs today in Soka city, Saitama Prefecture.


If you are in Japan, please try fresh Senbei!

Did you know you can have freshly toasted Senbei? You can get it at many tourist places such as Soka city, where Senbei began in Japan. You can have hot and fresh but crunchy Senbei! Fresh thing is always better, right?

If you live or visit Tokyo, I recommend you go to Asakusa which is a very popular sightseeing place in Tokyo, to get fresh Senbei!




Please try to find your favorite Senbei!
Matane! (in Japanese, means “see you soon!”)

Japanese candy art, Amezaiku! Too beautiful to eat.

Japanese candy art, Amezaiku! Too beautiful to eat.

I think each country has its own style of candy art, but have you ever seen Japanese candy art, called Amezaiku? It is very beautiful and delicate. Let me show you the world of Amezaiku!

Related post: wagashi – is edible work of art



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What is Amezaiku?

Amezaiku is traditional Japanese candy artistry. A hard candy base is heated until it softens and begins to melt. Then it is taken off the heat and before candy hardens in the few minutes the Amezaiku artist will use their hands and scissors to sculpt small plants or animals.

The artists hands move quickly and the resulting amezaiku is very delicate and delicious. Amezaiku are made from candy, so they are edible, but sometimes they are just too beautiful to eat!



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The history of Amezaiku

There are many different explanations as to where Amezaiku got its start. According to one, Amezaiku was introduced to Japan from mainland China sometime between the 9th and 11th centuries. However, it wasn’t until the 17th century in the Edo era that the artisans began refining their skills to make beautiful pieces. At the time, Amezaiku is said to have been a luxury gift used as an offering.

Until 1980s, it was common to see Amezaiku artists making and selling their candy pieces at festivals and street stalls. It was also sold at story board street performances. Recently however, as there has been growing concern about preparing food outside and the number of festivals has been in decline, sales of Amezaiku have fallen and the number of artists has also declined.



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Where to buy Amezaiku in Japan?

If you visit Tokyo, Japan, please stop by at these stores for Amezaiku!

1: Ameshin
Ameshin has a store where you can buy many types of Amezaiku, not only their signature beautiful-gold fish-shaped one but also more reasonable ones too. Their shop is located near Tokyo Sky Tree which is a popular tourist place.
For the store information, click here


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2: Yoshihara
Yoshihara’s candy art is very cute and has wide selection of animal shaped candies. You can also order your own Amezaiku at the shop and they will make one for you!
For the store information, click here


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Make your own Amezaiku at a workshop!

Both shops above offer a workshop where you can try to make your own Amezaiku. They teach you how to shape candy step by step. Why don’t you try?

Watch me making my Amezaiku!


Matane! (in Japanese, means “see you soon!”)

Matcha utensils! What tools do you need to make Matcha tea?

Matcha utensils! What tools do you need to make Matcha tea?

In Japanese tea ceremony, you usually need specific utensils to make Matcha tea. Here, I will introduce you 4 Matcha utensils I recommend you have though some utensils can be substituted with kitchen tools you already have!

Related post: what is matcha? basics of matcha green tea from japanese people


Matcha bowl, Matcha Chawan (抹茶茶碗)

Matcha Chawan is a tea bowl for making Matcha. They are usually made from porcelain or ceramic, and have a wide mouth which makes it easy to make Matcha. There are many types of materials and patterns. Sometimes the patterns express seasonal designs or a lucky charm.

Chawan usually has a front, and it is the most beautiful part of the Chawan. In a ceremony, host faces the front of the Chawan towards guests when he/she offer matcha tea, and to show respect during the ceremony guests will slightly rotate the Chawan as to not drink directly from the front.

Matcha Chawan is most commonly available at stores that specialize in utensils for Japanese cooking. There are cheap Chawan available, but antique Chawan or Chawan that were used by popular designers can fetch a high price. Try searching for one that best fits your taste.




You can substitute Matcha Chawan with a cereal bowl or a soup bowl.


Matcha whisk, Chasen(茶筅)

Chasen, or Matcha whisk, is a tool used to mix Matcha powder with hot water when making tea. Normally Chasen has 100 thin bamboo prongs. Chasen is used to mix Matcha and hot water. Thanks to thin prongs you can make your Matcha drink very attractive looking and frothy.



When finished with using the Chasen, dip it in warm water and gently swirl it to get the Matcha powder to come off. Do not use any type of soap or dish detergent on your Chasen. After washing, hang it out away from direct sunlight in a place with good ventilation to prevent mold from growing on it. You may wish to use a Chasen holder to help preserve its shape.



You can substitute Chasen with a handy milk frothier.


(optional) Matcha spoon, Chashaku(茶杓)

Chashaku is a thin Matcha spoon made by bamboo. It is typically hand-made by professionals and very delicate. Chashaku is used to scoop out Matcha tea powder.



If you don’t have Chashaku, you can use a regular spoon instead.


(optional) Matcha tea powder container, Natsume(棗)

Natsume is a jar that contains Matcha tea powder in Japanese tea ceremony.

There are many types of Natsume. Typically, it is lacquered and has beautiful painting or pattern on it to entertain guests during the ceremony.



It is not designed to preserve Matcha tea powder for long time, but it is used during tea ceremony. To preserve Matcha tea powder, please make sure to put Matcha tea powder in an air-tight container and save it at cool and dry place.

How to make Matcha tea

You will need Matcha powder, hot water, a bowl and a whisk.
1. First, put 2g (about 2 scoops of Chashaku, Matcha spoon) of Matcha powder into a Chawan, Matcha bowl.
2. Then, pour 60ml of hot (80℃/175℉ is the best) water into Chawan.
3. Whisk quickly for about 15 seconds with Chasen, a bamboo whisk, making “m” shape, until your drink gets frothy.

It is easy and simple. Of course, you can change the ratio to enjoy Matcha tea!


Matane! (in Japanese, means “see you soon!”)

The easiest and delicious CHOCOLATE MOCHI recipe in 5min using microwave!

The easiest and delicious CHOCOLATE MOCHI recipe in 5min using microwave!

You like Mochi and chocolate, yet haven’t made chocolate Mochi by yourself? Let me show you the easiest chocolate Mochi recipe that you can make in 5min with only microwave!Σ(・ω・ノ)ノ

The Mochi is soft and chewy, with rich melted chocolate filling inside…. It is absolutely delicious and you will be surprised how easy it is!

Preparation: 30min
Ready in: 5min

Related post: what is mochi? a beginner’s guide to mochi

Related post: how to make mochi at home : 3 easy ways



This recipe makes 6 small chocolate Mochi.

– 2 blocks (approx. 50g) of dried Mochi, aka Kirimochi (see below about what Kirimochi is)
– 1 chocolate bar of your choice (I use 50g)
– 1 tbsp milk
– 1 tbsp sugar (I use cane sugar)
– good amount of starch powder. Potato starch is the best but corn starch works too.
– (optional) cacao powder

chocolate mochi ingredients



First, in a microwave-safe bowl, soak Mochi blocks in water for 30min. This helps Mochi to soften faster.
*I recommend you to cut the Mochi block in an inch cubes.

choco mochi preparation



1. Cut the chocolate bar into half. One is for the filling and the other is for Mochi. Chocolate for the filling, divide in 6 smaller pieces. Anothe half chocolate for the Mochi, chop finely as in the picture.

chocolate mochi direction1: cut chocolate


2. Drain the water and add the chocolate for Mochi (chopped), sugar and milk.

chocolate mochi direction2


3. Lightly cover the bowl with a plastic wrap, and put it in a microwave for 1min in 500W, then mix well smashing and mixing Mochi with other ingredients. At this step all ingredients are not well combined yet.

chocolate mochi direction3


4. Put it back to a microwave for another 30sec in 500W, then mix well again until all ingredients combined In one texture. Repeat it if the Mochi is still hard.

chocolate mochi direction4


5. Place the chocolate Mochi dough on some starch powder and cover the Mochi surface with starch powder. Then divide the Mochi into 6 equal pieces.
*starch powder is not for the taste. It keeps Mochi from sticking to your hand and tray.

chocolate mochi direction5


6. Take each Mochi piece, spread it, put the chocolate for filling in the center, then wrap it. When wrapping try to make it round while the Mochi is still warm.

chocolate mochi direction6


7. (optional) Sprinkle some cacao powder on the Mochi and done!

chocolate mochi


Enjoy chocolate Mochi!

Because you wrap the chocolate filling while the Mochi is still warm, the chocolate inside will be melted. The Mochi will be more squishy and harder eventually so if you like soft Mochi, I recommend you to put it in a microwave for 5-10sec before eating.

Of course it is good if you use Anko (red bean paste) filling instead of chocolate filling. This makes Daifuku (aka Anko Mochi)!

Related post: what is daifuku? perfect combination of mochi and red bean jam (anko)


What is Kirimochi?

I used Kirimochi in this recipe instead of making Mochi from Mochi flour (aka Mochiko) to make it easier. Kirimochi is a ready-to-be-cooked Mochi block that you can eat just by grilling or warming. I am sure you can buy Kirimochi at your local Asian grocery stores. Also you can purchase it from Amazon. (an affiliate link below)


Please let me know if you want to know other easy recipes!

Matane! (in Japanese, means “see you soon!”)

Nerikiri, an edible art! Beautiful high-grade traditional Japanese confectionery

Nerikiri, an edible art! Beautiful high-grade traditional Japanese confectionery

Have you ever seen showcases of beautiful traditional Japanese sweets in Japanese confectionery stores?w(*゚o゚*)w



What are they? How are they made?


Edible art! What is Nerikiri?

Nerikiri is a kind of bean-jam-based confectionery, and is categorized as “Jonamagashi”. Jonamagashi is a name given to the most artistic and high-grade pieces of Japanese confectionery.



In Japanese tea ceremony, Nerikiri is served together with Matcha especially with Koicha (thick Matcha tea).

Related post: thick matcha tea, koicha? matcha tea you didn’t know


How is Nerikiri made?

Nerikiri is actually 90% Anko, Japanese bean paste. The beautiful outside layer is made with Shiroan (white bean paste) mixed with sweet and soft Mochi (called Gyuhi), colored and finally shaped. By adding Gyuhi, it becomes easier to shape. Also Gyuhi adds smooth and a little bit of chewy texture to it. Typically, Koshian (smooth red bean paste) is added inside for taste.

Related post: what is japanese red bean paste, anko? types and how to eat at home

So, most of Nerikiri is Anko. You may be surprised that it is sweeter than other typical Japanese traditional sweets. But if you eat Nerikiri together with Matcha tea, Matcha tea clears the sweetness from Nerikiri, so they really well fitting delicious combination!


How Nerikiri is different from other sweets

As Nerikiri has evolved as part of Japanese tea ceremony, it entertains people with both its appearance and taste. Here are some characteristics of Nerikiri.

Each Nerikiri has its own name:
First, the word “Nerikiri” refers to all Nerikiris, and each Nerikiri has its own proper name. These proper names are given by Japanese confectionery craftspeople when they make a new kind of Nerikiri.


Nerikiri represents seasons:
Next, Nerikiri comes in various shapes, most of which represent seasons. Many of them resemble seasonal flowers, and there are also some that symbolize winter mountains or a piece of classical Japanese literature that suits the season.


Every Nerikiri is a once-in-a-lifetime experience:
Finally, Nerikiri never stays the same throughout the year. That is because Japanese confectionery craftspeople get inspired by the changing seasons and make a Nerikiri that suit the time. Therefore, every Nerikiri is a unique and an “Ichigoichie” (Japanese for ”once-in-a-lifetime“) experience.

Nerikiri lasts only 1-2 days so it is hard to buy it as a souvenir but if you visit Japan, please try it!


Matane! (in Japanese, means “see you soon!”)

The sweet relation between Tsukimi and Wagashi, Japanese traditional sweets

The sweet relation between Tsukimi and Wagashi, Japanese traditional sweets

In Japan there has long been a tradition of admiring the beauty of the moon called Tsukimi. In 2018, the brightest and most beautiful full moon, known as “chushu-no-meigetsu” in Japanese, can be seen on September 24.( 〃 ❛ᴗ❛ 〃 )

Allow me to introduce you to the sweet relation between Tsukimi, famous Japanese custom in the fall, and Wagashi, Japanese traditional sweets.


What is Tsukimi?

Tsukimi is an old Japanese custom of viewing the moon when it is bright and beautiful. This takes place in the fall, and offerings of Tsukimi Dango, Japanese pampas grass, and taro are presented to the moon. The offerings are to give thanks to the moon for a bountiful harvest.



What is Tsukimi Dango?

The most famous Japanese sweet eaten during Tsukimi is Tsukimi Dango. These are round dumplings made of Mochi (sticky and chewy rice cakes) that are stacked into a pyramid shape and offered to the moon as a symbol of gratitude. Slightly different from normal offerings, Tsukimi Dango are eaten after being presented to the moon. It is said that this allows one to receive power from the moon and live healthily.



Typically, Tsukimi Dango itself doesn’t have any sauce or toppings, so when people eat Tsukimi Dango they add sauces or toppings of their choice, such as red bean paste.

Related post: what is japanese red bean paste, anko? types and how to eat at home

However, in these days, eating regular Dango is getting more popular instead of Tsukimi Dango so you see many Dango in this Tsukimi season.

Related post: what is dango? the 5 most popular types of dango



Rabbits sweets for Tsukimi

During the Tsukimi season, In addition to Tsukimi Dango, you may find many Japanese sweets are made in shapes of “rabbits” for people to enjoy.





Why rabbits for Tsukimi?

There are many treats featuring rabbits during Tsukimi. This is because there is an old legend that says there are rabbits who live on the moon, and they are pounding rice into Mochi.

First, the origin of this tale is said to be in India. These stories made their way to Japan through Buddhism and were then widely spread in Japan.

The Mochi pounding part of the story appears to have originated in China. In ancient China, it was believed that rabbits could make an elixir of immortality. However, when the story came to Japan, the elixir was changed to Mochi.

Interesting story, isn’t it?



There are many cute and delicious sweets during Tsukimi season. If you visit Japan in Tsukimi season, please try to find Tsukimi Dango and rabbits sweets!


Matane! (in Japanese, means “see you soon!”)

What is Monaka? Crispy Japanese traditional sweets

What is Monaka? Crispy Japanese traditional sweets

Monaka, or bean‐jam‐filled wafers, are Japanese traditional sweets that combine delicate sweetness and a sense of comfort that both the young and the old enjoy. There are many long-established specialty shops selling Monaka with original ideas.(・∀・)


What is Monaka?

Monaka is Japanese traditional sweets that have bean jam sandwiched with two thin Mochi wafers. You can enjoy the taste of smooth bean jam directly, fittingly accompanied by the fragrance of roasted wafers and their crispy mouth feel.



*Wafers of Moanaka are similar to ice cream cone, but ingredients are different. Wafers of Monaka are made from Mochi rice, while ice cream cone is typically made of a corn flour. Hence, flavors and textures are a bit different.

Typical fillings for Monaka are Anko, sweet red bean paste, however there are Monakas that include Mochi or chestnut to give it a nice and different accent.

Related post: what is japanese red bean paste, anko? types and how to eat at home


Fresh Monaka is the best! Then, want to try make-you-own Monaka?

Wafers used in Monaka are prone to damping, so after a while, their crispy mouth-feel will be gone. Therefore, if you are taking Monaka home as souvenirs from Japan, I recommend “make-your-own” Monaka. The bean jelly is packaged separately from the wafers, so you can serve yourself a fresh and crispy Monaka right before you eat it.

Enjoy freshly made Monaka!



Find cute Monaka!

The typical shape of Monaka is rectangle or circle, however, you can find many cute and non-ordinary shapes of Monaka these days. Some express season, and some express lucky charm. Let me show you some cute Monakas!


Whale Monaka


Cat Monaka


Ninja Monaka


Daruma (a traditional Japanese tumbler doll) Monaka


Matane! (in Japanese, means “see you soon!”)

What is Castella? Born in Portugal and raised in Japan

What is Castella? Born in Portugal and raised in Japan

Do you know Japanese sweets, Castella? It is spongy-like popular Japanese cake that has characteristics of a Western sweets.(・ε・`o)

Related post: top 10 popular japanese sweets (wagashi) that japanese like the most!

Castella has unique history in Japan. Let’s learn them together!


What is Castella?

Castella is a slightly sweet sponge cake baked with flour, eggs, milk, sugar and so on. Typically, it is yellow in the center and golden brown above and below. The brown part on the base contains large-grained sugar called “zarame”, and within the fluffy dough there is a crispy texture and caramel-like flavor from zarame.

Castella is different from other Japanese sweets in that it uses wheat flour, milk, and other ingredients not usually used in Japanese sweets. (However, the fats such as butter used in ordinary western confectionery are not used for Castella.) This is because Castella is a sweet that was brought from Portugal long time ago, but developed in its own way in Japan.



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History of Castella

There are different theories about the history of Castella. One popular version says, that Castella have originated as the Portuguese bread called “Pão-de-ló ” and came to Japan during the Muromachi Period (13th-16th centuries).



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Despite having arrived from a foreign country, Castella is regarded as a Japanese sweet, because the term “yogashi”(Western sweets) refers to the sweets that have come to Japan since the 19th century Meiji Period. In addition, Castella has developed in its own way and has become something different to what originally arrived from Portugal.


What drink is good with Castella? Milk, no doubt.

Since it is spongy and has rich and sweet egg flavor, you may think the best drinks that go with Castella are coffee or tea. Just like regular cake, right? Actually, I highly recommend you to enjoy it with a cup of milk! Most of Japanese people like this combination more. Don’t know why, but Castella and milk go really well together! Please give it a shot!



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Where can I buy Castella?

I think you can find Castella at Asian market or Japanese grocery stores if you are outside of Japan. If you are in Japan, you can find Castella basically anywhere, including grocery and convenience stores. Also, there are many stores specialized in Castella!


Matane! (in Japanese, means “see you soon!”)

Thick Matcha tea, Koicha? Matcha tea you didn’t know

Thick Matcha tea, Koicha? Matcha tea you didn’t know

Matcha tea is a drink enjoyed at Japanese tea ceremony, but did you know that there are two types of Matcha tea? Matcha tea can be Usucha (thin) or Koicha (thick).(・0・。)

Related post: what is matcha? basics of matcha green tea from japanese people



Usucha (thin Matcha tea) and Koicha (thick Matcha tea)

Typically, Matcha tea is referred as Usucha (thin Matcha tea), because most of Matcha tea cafes provide Usucha.

However, there is another type of Matcha tea that is served at Japanese tea ceremony, what we call it “Koicha” (thick Matcha tea). There are only few places/cafes that provide Koicha and even most of Japanese people have not tried it.

Related post: my recommended 3 cafes in tokyo where you can enjoy matcha and high-grade japanese sweets



What is Koicha (thick Matcha tea)?

Koicha tends to be much thicker than Usucha. It doesn’t froth like Usucha and is prepared with more tea leaves and less hot water. Please think about Usucha as regular coffee, and Koicha is espresso! But the texture of Koicha is not watery at all, it is more like a rich and thick melted chocolate.

In tea ceremony, Usucha is a basic tea that beginners usually start with. Koicha is for advanced learners.

High grade Matcha is commonly used to make Koicha. Because of the high concentration, the taste of the tea tends to be strong and direct. If cheap Matcha is used, it can end up tasting too bitter. In proper Koicha, the umami flavors of the Matcha overpower the bitterness, making it quite delicious to drink.



Where can I try Koicha?

Places/cafes that you can enjoy Koicha are very limited compared to Usucha. Please find cafes that are specialized in Matcha tea or if you are in Japan, there are classes where you can have Japanese tea ceremony experience and try Koicha!


What Wagashi is good with Koicha?

Koicha is very thick so Wagashi (Japanese traditional sweets) that goes well with Koicha should be more sweet than typical Wagashi. Usually Wagashi that have a strong taste of red bean paste match well with Koicha, for example Yo-kan and Nerikiri (beautiful shaped Wagashi that is made of white bean paste mixed with sweet Mochi). Richness of Koicha in general match well with the sweetness from Wagashi!

Related post: what is yokan? traditional japanese sweets that can be very arty



You may be surprised at the first time when you try Koicha because it is very thick. But once you can have a really good Koicha, I bet you will be obsessed with it! (just like me!) It may be difficult to find places where you can try Koicha, but if you find it please give it a shot!


Matane! (in Japanese, means “see you soon!”)

Japanese traditional sweets in autumn. Feel autumn with Wagashi

Japanese traditional sweets in autumn. Feel autumn with Wagashi

One unique characteristic of Japanese traditional sweets, Wagashi, is how the many varieties represent the changing seasons. Of course, there are some Wagashi that you can enjoy throughout a year such as Taiyaki, (fish-shaped pancakes with red bean paste filling) but if you take a look at Wagashi store’s showcase you’ll see different types of Wagashi depending on the season.

Related post: watermelon dango?! wagashi brings you a sense of season!

Autumn already have arrived in Japan, so let me introduce you to Wagashi world in autumn!ヽ(´∀`ヽ)


Types of Wagashi in autumn

Autumn Wagashi can be split into two main types. The first type are those that are styled after the symbolic colors and sights of autumn. The second are those that include ingredients harvested in autumn, so mainly sweet potatoes, chestnuts and persimmons.


Wagashi that express autumn by looking

Moving back to the first type that tries to capture the nature of Autumn in the presentation, they mainly try to portray the symbolic flowers and autumn colors. A lot of these types of Wagashi take the form of ‘Nerikiri’, a combination of Shiroan, white bean paste, and Gyuhi, sweet soft Mochi.


Flower of autumn: Cosmos
Cosmos is written as “autumn cherry blossom” in Japanese characters. People love Cosmos by its cute looking just like cherry blossom in autumn.


Symbol of autumn: Autumn leaves
Leaves turn to red in autumn and they are very beautiful.


Flower of autumn: Chrysanthemum
As there is a day of chrysanthemum (9th September) in Japan, people love chrysanthemum.


Wagashi that is made with tastes of autumn

In addition to some classic Dorayaki, there are unique and creative modern types of Dorayaki too.

As autumn in Japan is called “Appetite of Autumn” (shokuyoku-no-aki), there are many veggies/fruits/nuts that especially delicious in this season.


Sweet potato
Sweet potato in autumn is more sweet and delicious! They are good as just grilled, but why don’t you taste them in Wagashi?

Sweet potato Yo-kan↓


Nuts are in season too, especially chestnuts are great for sweets. Some Wagashi try to express chestnuts by their looks not just by their tastes.

Chestnut Manju↓


Persimmon represents Japanese autumn fruits. Most of persimmon are made from dried persimmon so that you can taste the sweetness from persimmon directly.

Dried persimmon with red bean paste filling↓


If you visit Japan in autumn, please try those seasonal sweets too!ヽ(‘ ∇‘ )ノ


Matane! (in Japanese, means “see you soon!”)