7 Japanese Sweets “Wagashi” in Kyoto. To taste, to buy, to know, to experience.


When it comes to traveling in Japan, Kyoto is one of the most popular places. Japanese-style sweets, called wagashi in Japanese, is the key to feel the traditional atmosphere of Kyoto, a historic city filled with old charms. Besides tasting and buying wagashi, this article is also going to introduce you some places to learn its knowledge and to experience how they are made. Let’s find out the sensitive side of Japanese culture through wagashi!



What is “Wagashi”? Sweets that convey Japanese traditions


Wagashi is a confectionery that developed uniquely in Japan and is called “Kyogashi” in Kyoto.


Wagashi is characterized by its traditional manufacturing methods and beautiful design that depicts seasonal plants, trees, and natural scenery. Kyoto has a lot of long-established Japanese confectionery store that have a history of over 100 years, where the ingredients and manufacturing methods have been passed down to the present day.


Wagashi is usually given as a gift for mourning and celebratory occasions or served with tea for a tea ceremony, but recently more are eaten on a daily basis. Some of the typical Japanese sweets are Daifuku, Dorayaki, Yokan, Mitarashi Dango, etc.


In recent years, “neo-wagashi”, a modernized version of Japanese sweets combined with western sweets and design elements, has also appeared.


On your trip to Kyoto, learning the traditions and culture of Japan via wagashi will make your trip even more special and unforgettable.

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【Kyoto・Gion】Kagizen Yoshifusa Shijo Main Store


Kagizen Yoshifusa, whose main store is located in Gion, major sightseeing location of Kyoto, is a traditional Japanese sweets shop founded in early 1700s. Since then, the sweets have been loved by tea connoisseur, monks, cultured writers and artists who frequented teahouses and restaurants, along with the women of the Hanamachi.


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The representative sweets of Kagizen Yoshifusa are “kikujyuto”, sugar made in the shape of chrysanthemum flower, together with other fresh confections that change with seasons. The picture above shows you an example of fresh wagashi. Using bright red to show the image of foliage, the color graduation of leaves is perfectly represented.

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A June-limited sweets call “minazuki” is a confectionery prepared by placing red beans on white Uiro (a sort of sweetened steamed cake made of rice powder) and then cutting it into triangular shapes. In Kyoto, there is a habit of eating minazuki during the summer purification rites event called “Nagoshi no Harae” on Jun 30 to pray for good health in the following half of the year.


Check this for “Nagoshi no Harae”

15 Traditional Events in Kyoto! Must-see for travelers, feel Japanese culture



264 Gion-machi Kita-gawa, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto [MAP]


6 mins walk from Hankyu Kyoto Line Kyoto-kawaramachi Station


【Kyoto・Arashiyama】Kotokikichaya Teahouse


Kotokikichaya Teahouse is located right at the foot of Arashiyama Togetsu Bridge. It is the perfect location to overlook the bridge and Kyoto style natural scenery. The two kinds of sakura rice cakes provided by the store are Arashiyama’s specialties.


One of the sakura rice cake is wrapped in salty cherry leaf. The sweetness of the rice cake is perfectly balanced with the saltiness of the leaf, and the aroma of cherry blossoms fills your mouth in a flash.


The other sakura rice cake is made with sticky rice wrapped in soft strained red bean paste.

Sakura rice cake is available for take-out. This simple and smooth taste made by skilled artisans goes well with green tea.



1 Saga-tenryuji Susukinobaba-cho, Ukyo Ward, Kyoto [MAP]


10 mins walk from Hankyu Kyoto Line Arashiyama Station
5 mins walk from Randen Tram Line Arashiyama Station
15 mins walk from JR Line Saga-Arashiyama Station

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【Kyoto・Kawaramachi】Umezono Kawaramachi Store


Next is going to introduce you the store that local people like to shop for sweets.

Umezono is a chain store whose branches are located in easily accessible places such as Kawaramachi, Kiyomizu and Karasuma. It is famous for “mitarashi dango”, skewered fried rice dumplings covered with sweet sauce. In addition to the savory smell, the sticky and chewy taste is irresistible.


Besides, the soft and chewy “warabi mochi” is also popular. In Kawaramachi store, limited Japanese sweets such as matcha parfait and cream anmitsu (agar jelly topped with sweet bean paste) are also available.



234-4 Yamazaki-cho, Kawaramachi Sanjo-sagaru, Nakagyo Ward, Kyoto [MAP]


5 mins walk from Hankyu Kyoto Line Kyoto-kawaramachi Station


【Higashiyama・Kiyomizu】Itoken / SOU・SOU Kiyomizu Store


The Kiyomizu-dera temple area is a bustling tourist area with many Kyoto style restaurants and souvenir shops. Here has a variety of small food and sweets that you can enjoy eating while walking. Among those, skewered wagashi from Itoken / SOU・SOU Kiyomizu Store is a big buzz right now.

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Using ingredients like sugar, agar and beans, the wagashi here is blended with modern style. Morning glories for summer, fall foliage for autumn, snowflake for winter, motif is changing by different season.



3-315 Kiyomizu, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto [MAP]


Take Kyoto City Bus from Hankyu Kyoto-kawaramachi Station and
get off at Kiyomizu-michi bus stop
8 mins walk from Kiyomizu-michi bus stop

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【JR Kyoto Station】IRODORI Kyoto Station Store


IRODORI is a new brand created by traditional wagashi store Tsuruya Yoshinobu. It offers modernly tailored Japanese sweets which is recommended as for souvenirs.


What do you think the crayon-like sweets packaged in a semi-transparent case are? The answer is “higashi” (dry agar with sugar). The idea of combining herbs such as jasmine,chamomile, and lavender with Japanese sweets is really innovative.

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If you are a Kirby lover, don’t miss the Kirby package monaka (wafers filled with bean paste) at the store front. Monaka is a Japanese confectionery made of glutinous rice flour, baked into two thin layers and filled with a red bean paste in between. The cute expression of Kirby is printed on the surface. You can enjoy the experience of making it by yourselves and don’t miss the taste of freshly made bean paste.

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1F Asty Road shopping area, JR Hachijo Exit,
8-3, Higashi-shiokoji-cho, Shimogyo Ward, Kyoto [MAP]


Inside JR Kyoto Station near Hachijo Extrance of Shinkansen (bullet train)

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【Kyoto・Omiya】Kameya Yoshinaga


If you want to know more about wagashi, we recommend you Japanese sweets making experience. At Kameya Yoshinaga, an old store founded in 1803, offers classes to learn how to make wagashi.


During the hands-on class, you can learn to make 2 kinds of fresh sweets with the special tools provided after seeing how the professional makes them. After that, matcha tea will be given to enjoy together with the self-made sweets. Children are also welcomed to the hands-on lessons and you may find their homepage in the following to get reservation.

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Don’t forget to buy their best-known “karasuba ball” which was Kameya Yoshinaga’s representative sweets. Karasuba ball is a famous wagashi made with red bean paste cooked with brown sugar and at last covered with agar to give it a glossy appearance.



17−19 Kashiwaya-cho, Shimogyo Ward, Kyoto [MAP]


5 mins walk from Hankyu Kyoto Line Omiya Station
10 mins walk from Hankyu Kyoto Line Karasuma Station


【Karasuma Imadegawa】Kyogashi Museum


Kyogashi Museum run by traditional wagashi store Tawaraya Yoshitomi. In this facility lies valuable Japanese traditional artworks that are all made of sweets.


Sweets artworks, called “togeigashi” in Japanese, usually depict the beauty of seasons by focusing on flowers and birds. The picture shown is a large sugar artwork about 1 meter width. Even the detailed expression of the pine tree trunks and the delicate gradation of the petals are skillfully made.


In addition, old sketchbooks from artisans and wooden molds that have been carefully used since the store’s establishment are also exhibited.

How is wagashi made? What kind of tools is used? What design do they consider? Come to Kyogashi Museum and find the answers!




331-2 Yanagizushi-cho, Kamigyo Ward, Kyoto [MAP]


Take Kyoto Municipal Subway from
Hankyu Kyoto Line Karasuma Station and get off at Imadegawa Station
3 mins walk from Imadegawa Station

The more you know about Japanese sweets, the more you will feel surprised. Why not discover the depth of Kyoto’s unique sweets through this special experience!

Wish you a pleasant and unforgettable journey!

About the author

Your source for sweets and gourmet information!
Editor and writer in charge of outing information media in Kyoto, Kobe and Osaka area for more than 10 years.
I will introduce you to the most popular stores, talked-about gourmet foods, and sightseeing spots in Japan.



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