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Japanese confectionery

About Japanese confectionery

sweet "An" While you travel in Japan, you may want to have some sweets sometimes.
You can get them at any supermarket, convenient store or confectioner. You must find familiar chocolate, candy, gum or ice cream.
And you also find traditional Japanese confectionery there.

Most Japanese confectionery are sweet, because they are eaten with green tea. And they are mainly made from only a few ingredients: rice, wheat flour, azuki (small red bean) and sugar.

Especially, "an" made from azuki is commonly used.
It is the paste made by boiling azuki with sugar. And. it is used like jam or cream of Western confectionery.

Confectionery like cookie or cracker


"Senbei" is the generic name of confectionery like cookie or cracker.
It is used from glutinous rice or wheat flour and is made by baking over fire. Some senbei are made by frying in oil.

Senbei from glutinous rice are generally brushed with a flavoring sauce made of shoyu and mirin, or are flavored with salt.
Some senbei are wrapped with a layer of nori. These are sometimes called "okaki".

Senbei from wheat flour are usually mixed sugar and egg, so they have sweet taste.


"Arare" is a type of bite-sized senbei made from glutinous rice.

Senbei Arare

Confectionery like cake


"Manjuu" is most popular Japanese confection, and you can find them at souvenir shops around Japan.
Most manju have an outside made from flour and a filling of sweet "an".


"Daifuku" are like manju. But they have an outside of mochi and a filling of sweet "an".
Generally all daifuku are covered in a fine layer of starch to keep them from sticking to each other, or to the fingers.


"Dorayaki" is the confection which consists of two small pancake-like patties made from flour, egg and sugar wrapped around a filling of sweet "an".
"Dora" means gong. It looks like gong.
It is Doraemon's favorite food. ("Doraemon" is the leading character of Japanese popular manga, and he is a robotic cat from the future.)


"Monaka" is the confection made of sweet "an" filling sandwiched between two thin crisp wafers made from mochi.


Yokan is a thick jellied dessert made of azuki, agar, and sugar.
It is usually sold in a block form, and eaten in slices. It is very sweet confection.

Manjuu Momiji Manjuu in Hiroshima Daifuku
Dorayaki Monaka Yokan with chestnuts

Confectionery like candy


Japanese traditional candy is called "ame".
Western candies have various flavor like fruits, coffee or tea, but ame have generally plain flavor.

Ame Ame


"Jogashi" means fine confectionery.
It is the confectionery made by using smooth and soft "an", mochi and other high-quality ingredients and using subtle craftsmanship.
So most of them are made colorfully and artistically and they look like artifacts.
These are served as part of a Japanese tea ceremony.

Jogashi Jogashi Craftsman makes Jogashi by hand.


"Dango" is the dumpling made from mochi and generally 3 to 5 dangos are often served on a skewer.

Plain dango is slightly sweet because a little sugar is added.
And there are many different varieties of dango that the various seasonings served on or with it.
Most popular seasonings are sweet "an" and a syrup made from shoyu, sugar and starch, and the dango coated with the latter seasoning is called "mitarashi".

Mitarashi Botchan Dango in Matsuyama city

Seasonal confectionery


"Sakura-mochi" is made in spring.
Sakura is the cherry blossom tree that the world takes as the symbol of Japan, and the bloom signals the coming of full-fledged spring.

Sakura-mochi is made by wrapping sweet "an" in pink mochi or glutinous rice. Additionally it is wrapped in a salted cherry leaf.
The cherry leaf is edible.

Kashiwa-mochi & Chimaki

May 5th is Children's Day, and it is a day to promote the happiness and well-being of children.
For this day, "kashiwa-mochi" and "chimaki" are made.
Kashiwa-mochi is made by wrapping sweet "an" in white mochi. Additionally it is wrapped in a leaf of kashiwa oak.
Chimaki is a dango wrapped in some bamboo leaves.


Mizu-yokan is a kind of yokan made by adding more water than common yokan. "Mizu" means water.
It is softer and lighter than yokan. So it is eaten in summer.

Ohagi / Botamochi

The food that thick sweet "an" is hand-packed around pre-formed balls of rice is called "ohagi" or "botamochi".
Since old days it was made at home when community festivals or Buddhist service.
But we can find it at any Japanese-style confection store.

Sakura-mochi Kashiwa-mochi Chimaki
Mizu-yokan Ohagi

Confectionery served at cafe


"Anmitsu" is a popular desert served in a bowl.
It has sweet "an", small cubes of agar, boiled peas and a variety of fruits such as peach slices, mikan, pieces of pineapple and cherries.
It usually comes with a small pot of sweet syrup, so pour onto it before eating.

Zenzai & Shiruko

"Zenzai" is the desert that azuki (small red beans) and sugar are brought to a simmer.
Commonly mochi or chestnuts are put into it. It is very sweet and hot desert.
Zenzai has the original shape of azuki. If azuki are turned into paste before cooking, it is called "shiruko". It is like sweet soup.


"Kakigori" is a desert made from shaved ice flavored with syrup. Of course, it is served in summer.
White shaved ice like fresh snow is heaped up in a bowl and colorful syrup is put on it.
Popular flavor syrup are strawberry (red color), lemon (yellow color), melon (green color) and blue-Hawaii (sky blue color and sweet-and-sour taste).
You can add on condensed milk to these flavor.
Popular Japanese flavors are ogura (sweet "an") and uji-kintoki (green tea syrup and sweet "an").

Anmitsu Zenzai Kakigori

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