Kids Web Japan

Kyoto: Kyoto-Style Confectionery

Spring Kyogashi

Kyogashi from Kyoto

Kyoto is the ancient capital of Japan and one of its most popular tourist destinations. From the grand splendor of the Golden Pavilion, to the traditional elegance of its streets, a visit to Kyoto is a chance to experience centuries of Japanese history and culture.

Wagashi, or traditional Japanese confectionery, are an important part of Japanese culture. There are a wide variety of wagashi associated with events in each of the four seasons: hina-arare rice crackers in March for the Doll’s Festival and sweet rice dumplings in September for the Autumn Moon Festival.

The area around the Five-storied Pagoda is steeped in history unique to the ancient capital of Kyoto.

Kyogashi are a type of wagashi, made and created in Kyoto by specially trained artisans. They began as offerings at temples and shrines, later becoming the choice delicacy for nobles of the Imperial Court. Finally, from around the late 16th century, the popularity of the Tea Ceremony brought these sweets to the average person’s table.

The Perfect Match for Uji Matcha

The Japanese Tea Ceremony is more than just pouring hot water in a pot. It is a way to show gratitude and respect to a guest. Everything from the tea bowl to the flower arrangement is chosen with great care to create a unique experience, and kyogashi are an important and delightful part of this. Kyogashi are served at the beginning of the ceremony, before the tea is drunk. The Uji Matcha tea served in Kyoto is quite bitter, and the sweet kyogashi are a perfect match.

But it’s not just the sweet flavor of kyogashi that make them special. Kyogashi are also a way to celebrate the season. Pale pink color and cherry blossoms in the spring, leaf motifs in shades of orange and red in the autumn, kyogashi are full of shapes and colors that represent the beautiful scenery of each season.

The name of kyogashi is also chosen carefully. It could be something from an ancient poem, or a play on words. When you hear it, it gives the dessert an extra meaning that is meant to get your imagination running.

It’s up to the host of the Tea Ceremony to make sure their guests have an entertaining and memorable experience. Kyogashi are a way to express themes designed by the host to appreciate the changing seasons. It is one reason why they have been developed and refined alongside the Tea Ceremony.

“Ajisai” (meaning hydrangea) is a kyogashi typically served in June. This sparkling, jewel-like confectionary bestows a cool, refreshing color to early summer.

Crafted in Kyoto

Delicate kyogashi created by artisans

Kyogashi artisans use a simple wooden tool to make the detailed designs. Some kyogashi shops have a long history of over 200 years, passing down the tools and skills to the next generation.

Most kyogashi are made by wrapping sweet bean paste in a pastry made from rice flour dough. The pastry and the bean paste are often flavored and colored before being shaped and decorated. There are also hard candy kyogashi (kyoame), jelly-type kyogashi (yokan) and other varieties to enjoy. Whatever the style, the ingredients and tools are very simple, so designing and creating each kyogashi really comes down to the skill of the artisan.

There are many places in Kyoto where you can taste these delicate treats. Some shops offer the opportunity to watch the sweets being made, while others will give you a chance to make your own. There are also cafes where you can eat kyogashi as part of the Japanese Tea Ceremony. Every shop and every season offers a new way to enjoy kyogashi and enriches your memories of the trip to Kyoto.

Some cafes offer a jo-namagashi set that includes luxurious and seasonal traditional sweets. In addition to Matcha and Sencha teas, there are also seasonal fruit juices, coffee, and black tea to choose from.