In Kyoto, you can find a myriad of different traditional Japanese sweets known as wagashi. While many can be enjoyed throughout the year, some reflect a specific season and are only made available for that part of the year.
In this article, we’ll be looking at some of the wagashi on offer that both uses seasonal Kyoto ingredients and captures the charm of Japanese winter.
While many of the restaurants highlighted below offer their wagashi in a largely eat-in setting, some also sell the sweets pre-packaged as well.
If you’re planning on coming to Kyoto in winter, then don’t miss the opportunity to try these winter exclusive treats!
*pictured is the Matcha + Fukura-nezumi Set: ￥1,375 (inc. tax)
*take-out available: ￥495/per piece (inc. tax)
Price: Drink (matcha, etc.) Set: ￥1,232 (inc. tax) –
Availabilty: December 16, 2019 – January 15, 2020
This wagashi is a cute Year of the Rat themed sweet available at Toraya Karyo Kyoto Ichijo.
Belonging to a family of half-baked sweets called Momoyama, these rat shaped sweets are made by mixing Toraya's special white bean paste with sugar and egg yolk and then baking them in a mold.
As an aside, the plump rat that makes up this traditional sweet is supposed to look like it’s looking around a field in the wintertime in anticipation of the arrival of spring. Keeping in mind this lovely story as you enjoy your round rat shaped sweet makes it just that much more delicious.
Name: Kaze Shirazu
Price: ￥450 (inc. tax)
*take-out available: ￥440/per piece (inc. tax)
Availability: Early December – late February
Kaze Shirazu is a dessert of kuzuyu poured inside a yuzu.
Kuzuyu is a thick, goopy drink made by dissolving kudzu powder (a powder made by refining starch obtained from kudzu root) with hot water.
The name, which loosely translates to "without a cold," refers to kuzuyu’s treasured existence as a drink had by those with colds for generations.
Kuzu is said to help warm the body and fight off fevers so is thought to be good to have when you feel a cold coming on.
Before digging in, squeeze the cutout yuzu lid and pour its pulpy juices over the kuzuyu.
While this dessert is great for warming yourself up, it's also just great for the relaxing wintery citrus aroma of the yuzu too.
Name: Hatsu Fuji
Price: Drink (matcha, etc.) Set: ￥1,100 (inc. tax)
*take-out available: ￥432/per piece (inc. tax)
Availability: December 26 – January 15
In Japan, there's a superstition about your first dream of the year. The superstition believes that the dreams had between January 1 and January 2 denote the good or bad luck you'll have for the rest of the year. One of the things thought to be a sign of good luck in these dreams is Japan’s one and only, Mt. Fuji.
This "Hatsu Fuji" is a type of wagashi called uiro and is based on the Mt. Fuji thought to be seen in these dreams.
Uiro are mochi-like chewy sweets made by steaming then hardening a mixture of rice flour, flour and smooth red beans.
The image of a red Mt. Fuji illuminated by the morning sun, thought to be a symbol of good luck since ancient times, against a clear blue sky creates what can only be described as a beautiful piece of confectionery craftsmanship that fills you with a wonderful sense of the festive New Year season.
While enjoying this special treat, take a moment to pray that 2020 will be just as beamingly brilliant as this wagashi itself.
Name: Kohaku Nagashi
Price: ￥750 (inc. tax)
Availability: January 6 – January 31
Kohaku Nagashi is a specialty of Seien, which thanks to its beauty, has come to be called an "edible jewel."
This dessert is made with homemade syrup atop agar (a jelly-like substance made from seaweed) and features a delicate texture that falls apart in your mouth.
The syrup used in this dessert changes monthly, with January being a white miso-based syrup.
White miso is especially loved in Kyoto and features prominently in the region's version of ozoni, a dish eaten to celebrate the New Year that contains mochi and other boiled ingredients inside soup.
The sweetness of the locally grown Kyoto red carrots atop the agar works to further bring out the flavors of the white miso, creating a well-rounded, delicious dish.
This dessert isn’t overly sweet so is perfect for those without much of a sweet tooth.
|Yumemi[ Sharing Kyoto Staff ]|