Osaka’s Spring-themed Wagashi BEST 4
Written by: リナ（rina）
● Find Spring in Wagashi
Spring is here! Here in Japan, spring is when Sakura trees bloom and everyone gets out and enjoys the beautiful Sakura cherry blossoms.
And, in a culture that values seasonal changes in nature, seasonal characteristics are reflected even in what you eat, which means we can find spring in things like desserts, especially in wagashi traditional Japanese sweets. Spring-themed wagashi like Sakura flavored mochi, strawberry daifuku, and fruity monaka wafers makes a great companion for enjoying Osaka’s spring the Japanese way.
Let’s explore the best spring wagashi in Osaka♪
● Sakura Flavored Mochi
Tsuruyahachiman is a long-established fine wagashi shop with over 300 years of history. Their main shop in Osaka is located among office buildings just 2-minute walk from the Midosuji Line’s Yodoyabashi Station. The large signage out front alone shows the long history of this famous wagashi shop.
Inside, the store is spacious with a relaxing cafe space in the back. You can find a variety of sweets, from their signature product, Hyakuraku wafers with azuki bean paste, to colorful dainty pieces of confectionery called jo-namagashi that are often served at tea ceremonies. Any of their products would make a handsome gift.
Our top recommendation at Tsuruyahachiman in spring is Sakuramochi. Sweet pink mochi cake wrapped in a salty preserved Sakura leaf, Sakuramochi is perhaps the top wagashi that represents spring. Wherever you go in Japan, typically, only one Sakura leaf is used in Sakuramochi. At Tsuruyahachiman, the pink mochi is sandwiched between two Sakura leaves. It’s as if the pink mochi is timidly hiding behind the leaves.
I could already smell the gentle aroma of Sakura cherry blossoms as I took one onto my hand♪
Inside the mochi is filled with smooth anko, sweet azuki bean paste. If you’re an anko lover like me, I guarantee you’d love it. The mochi part has a chewy and sticky texture yet has a refined flavor of Sakura. Preserved Sakura leaves are not too salty, making the mild sweetness of the azuki beans more prominent.
Sakuramochi can last 2 days at room temperature. That means you can have this Sakura flavored mochi wrapped in Sakura leaves under the Sakura trees if you’d like!
● Spring Delights from Osome
Going a short distance out of Osaka, located in Asahi Dori Shotengai Shopping Street in Moriguchi City just northeast of Osaka is Osome. Although it’s outside the city, it’s easy to get to Osome. Just take the Osaka Metro Tanimachi Line or Imazatosuji Line to Taishibashi-Imaichi Station, and it’s about a 5-minute walk from there. Simple noren curtains indicating the store name is pretty easy to find.
Opened in 2017, Osome is beloved by the locals. Inside the little shop is casual and comfortable and many kinds of wagashi, including Fruit Daifuku (mochi cake with azuki bean filling and fruits) and ohagi (sweet rice balls with azuki bean filling), are showcased. They all looked great and made my mouth water♪
A favorite at Osome is another spring wagashi, Ichigo Daifuku. Daifuku is a small round mochi stuffed with sweet azuki bean paste. Ichigo Daifuku is a daifuku stuffed with a whole strawberry, right in the middle. Yum! At Osome, you can choose from two types of Ichigo Daifuku, one made with kuroan, regular azuki bean paste, and the other made with shiroan, white bean paste.
I saw the bright red strawberry poking on top of the daifuku♡ The strawberry was so big, it was almost bulging.
Strawberry was juicy and perfectly matched the mild sweetness of anko. Daifuku skin was chewy, yet it melted in my mouth.
It was interesting to compare the two distinct flavors created by two types of beans. The flavor of the strawberry was more prominent with the white beans, while the chunky azuki beans gave the daifuku a nice texture that added to the flavor.
In addition to Ichigo Daifuku, other colorful spring wagashi sold at Osome includes Sakura yokan (jelly like sweet bean snack), tricolor dango (dumplings), Amigasa (aka kusamochi, mochi made with yomogi leaves), Uguisu (made with tender mochi called gyuhi), and Sakuramochi to name a few. Starting at only 110 yen, prices are friendly–or a little dangerous depending on how you look at it; you might end up with too many wagashi! lol
No preservative is used here so you can eat without worry.
Spring wagashi is sold throughout the Sakura season, until around mid-April. Grab your favorites and enjoy them at home or at hanami parties.
● Sakura Shigure - Budding Cherry Blossoms
With 76 years of history, Souke Minamoto Kitchoan operates internationally with locations abroad including the United States and Taiwan and have several locations in Osaka alone. I visited their Koraibashi shop near Kitahama Station on the Sakaisuji Line.
The retro exterior is chic and fits in with the Kitahama neighborhood. Inside the store, I found tasteful wagashi including their popular “nature series” that features the natural appearance, shape, and flavor of fruits.
They also had a host of spring wagashi and all had an appearance and a name that brilliantly depicted the spring season. From top left clockwise: Sakura Goromo (means “court kimono coat in shades of Sakura colors”), Ohka Shigure (Sakura flower rain showers), Sakura Jelly, Hana Murashi (Flowers steamed)
Our top recommendation from these four spring wagashi is…Ohka Shigure!
Shigure is the rain showers seen in late autumn to early winter in Japan. In wagashi, “shigure” is created by coating bean paste with white bean paste that is mixed with egg yolk and rice flour, then steaming it. During the steaming process, the bean paste coating is supposed to crack and these cracks represent shigure, the drizzling rain. The beauty of these cracks is the key to good shigure–those without cracks are considered failed products. Ohka Shigure indeed has cracks and is filled with light pink Sakura flavored bean paste. Topped with a Sakura flower, it looked like a budding Sakura than rain showers to me.
The crumbly shigure and the moist anko paste create a perfect balance of texture while the preserved Sakura flower topping adds saltiness and expands the whole flavor.
This product can last about two weeks. It’d be a good choice for those who want to gift spring-themed wagashi to someone special.
● Colorful Fruity Monaka Wafers
The last of our recommendations today is a new type of wagashi that arrived in the Kansai region just a few months ago in December 2021. It’s found at Fruit Monaka Tomika in the Shinmachi neighborhood, just a 3-minute walk from Yotsubashi Station on the Yotsubashi Line. Tomika specializes in wagashi made with a combination of fresh fruits and monaka wafers.
Walk through the door next to Yanoen, a long-established tea shop, and go around the back, and you’ll arrive at a chic shop with a simple counter that does take outs only.
Colorful samplings of ten(!) kinds of Fruit Monaka (wafers), Monaka Butter Sand (shortbread cookies; “Sand” means sandwich in Japanese), daifuku, and other sweets looked all lovely♡ In fact, the selection was plentiful despite the small space and made my decision making process a bit difficult.
I ended up choosing two monaka that both used strawberries (because it’s spring of course) and a cute pink Monaka Butter Sand with cranberries. I took them home to enjoy♪ They stayed fresh and crisp all the way as they were carefully packaged to keep the monaka wafers and the azuki bean paste separate.
The pink one in the center is Beni-hoppe strawberry flavored monaka, filled with Amao strawberry flavored bean paste and rich milk bean paste. The white one on the right is the Strawberry flavored monaka, filled with banana flavored bean paste and kinako (soy bean powder) bean paste. I made my monaka sandwich and pressed the wafers together gently and carefully not to break them.
The first bite began with the crispy texture of the monaka wafer, followed by the flavors of banana, kinako, and fresh strawberry in harmony. The combination may sound strange, but it was excellent. The chewy texture of the mochi followed, and the more I nibbled, the more texture and flavors I enjoyed.
Beni-hoppe strawberry and milk were without a doubt a good match♡ And because the anko paste was not overwhelming as it can be in many Japanese sweets, the sweetness of the strawberry filled my mouth instead.
Fresh ingredients are crucial in Fruit Monaka. They should be eaten on the day of purchase.
The cranberry monaka Butter Sand came in little bite sizes. They were cute and easy to eat. I really liked it!
Butter Sand has gained popularity in Japan lately and you can find them everywhere. What makes Tomika’s Butter Sand special is that it is more Japanese in style than others.
Visit Tomika and try their new Butter Sand wagashi and enjoy the flavor of spring at the same time♪
Tsuruyahachiman Osaka Main Store
[Access] About 2 mins walk from Exit 9 at Yodoyabashi Station.
About 4 mins walk from Exit 5-B at Higobashi Station.
[Hours] 8:30 am - 7:00 pm; Saturdays/Sunday/Holidays 8:30 am - 5:00 pm
[Access] About 3 mins walk from Exit 1 at Taishibashi-Imaichi Station.
[Hours] 11:00 am - 6:00 pm* *Store closes when sold out
Souke Minamoto Kitchoan at Koraibashi
[Access] About 1 mins walk from Exit 6 at Kitahama Station.
[Hours] Monday - Friday 9:00 am – 7:00 pm
Saturdays 9:30 am – 6:00 pm Holidays 10:30 am – 6:00 pm
[Closed] Sundays, New Year’s Day
Fruit Monaka Tomika Shinmachi-ten
[Access] About 3 mins walk from Exit 2 at Yotsubashi Station.
About 5 mins walk from Exit 2 at Nishiohashi Station.
[Hours] 10:00 am - 7:00 pm
[Closed] No regular schedule available
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