Working my way along my sweets haul, today I unwrapped 2 triangles. The dark brown on the left is hōjicha flavoured; roasted green tea. I am a huge hōjicha fan, it is deep and rich and a bit smoky. In my opinion, it’s the tea closest to coffee. It’s what I crave on cool rainy days or from the start of autumn. Not necessarily something I associate personally with summer but I do love it regardless, particularly in the minazuki.
The soft yellow one is ama natsu・甘夏 or natsu mikan・夏蜜柑 flavoured; sweet summer citrus. It was just tart and sweet enough to perk up my afternoon. A very good combination that balanced out surprisingly well!
Firstly, I did not eat all of these at the same time. Even if I wanted to, I would be hard-pressed to consume that much caffeine at once. The first one is a cute Hakata minazuki・博多水無月 wrapped up to mimic a pineapple! So sweet.
The left is my unwrapped pineapple. Amazing, perfection. The right is white peach. Very delicate, soft.
Best for last: wild mountain plum. This was my favourite last year and it was just as good as I remembered. There are lots of lovely fruit options and I’m excited to branch out to other flavour categories.
I had thought maybe since this was my second summer in Fukuoka I wouldn’t be as excited for Hakata minazuki・博多水無月. Incorrect! Better than Christmas. Minazuki is both the word for June in the old Japanese calendar and a sweet eaten in the same month. Hakata minazuki is a regional (Fukuoka city) take on the traditional delicacy. It is surprisingly recent and most shops involved have an individual spin on it. One of my locals, Rabbit Moon, has a beautiful, incredible salted caramel version. Last year, I walked to almost all of the 20 places that offer them (furthest was a 2 hour walk- worth it). So far there is only 1 I haven’t tried.
Anyway! At Rabbit Moon there was a flyer saying a whole bunch of the Hakata minazuki purveyors would gather in one of the fancy department stores in the city centre. I found zero information online. I refreshed the department store website daily. I took a chance and went on the opening day. I saw the beautiful white and blue flag bearing the name of the sweet and was embarrassingly happy.
I wanted to shake other shoppers’ shoulders; doesn’t everyone understand how special these are? I filled up my bamboo basket with treats and the woman working the stand asked me if it was my first time trying them. I admitted that it was not and we chatted about the new flavours and our favourites. The next youngest person there after me was at least 2 decades my senior.
The first one I had getting home was the kinako Hakata minazuki, all toasty and sweet and nutty. What a great day. I love unwrapping the bamboo leaves, I love the seasonality, I love the creativity. Can’t wait to eat them all.
Rounding out the month of June, or in the ancient Japanese calendar Minazuki, where this sweet gets its namesake from, I got this one from Takashima・高島屋菓子舗. I really encourage you to look at the pictures in the link, its in a very old school covered wet market alley that mainly sells produce, fish, tea and coffee and of course sweets. I love these types of places, they are always fun to explore and the quality and prices are usually much better than major supermarkets.
It’s a beautiful day out so I went outside so I get could get a view of my growing beans. To try something different, I had bought the matcha flavoured minazuki instead of the typical azuki because I am no stranger to that one! As usual its all wrapped up in a bamboo leaf. It was really a lovely change, even if having iced matcha with a matcha flavoured sweet is a little funny. It had little azuki beans throughout the jellied matcha and a really smooth taste.
I got this classic version of a Hakata minazuki from Takoshōgetsu・鮹松月, the name literally translates to ‘Octopus Tree Moon’. It’s located in the city centre on the same old street I got the matcha minazuki from, the little wet market street with little shops. Before I lived here when I came to Fukuoka to visit I actually bought my New Years (Kagami) mochi from them. They do all of the classics very well and I will definitely come back to try their namagashi, it looked so beautiful.
Another more creative take on Hakata minazuki from Fūki・富貴, the beautiful shop in Yakuin. They also offer a classic version, which has been cut up and covered with light green tea milk pudding, topped with coarse sweet red bean and then lightly wrapped in a bamboo leaf.
Pudding, and milk pudding is not always my first choice, but this really blew me away. It made me really want to go back and try their original minazuki they sell because it tasted fantastic in the cool pudding- slightly sweet red bean jelly with a nice bounce.
This one stole the show for me. In my joyous, life-affirming quest to try all the Hakata minazuki in the city, this beautiful, sweet peach one from Mountain Moon・山月堂 is completely unique and perfect. It has a deep sweetness that tastes like mountain berries or more specifically, tastes even better than my memory of Baies des Champs, a frangrance line from Fruits and Passion that I really loved as a child. It seems like that line is long discontinued, but it always wonderful when a sense memory pops up like that.
Well, I loved this sweet, the beautiful leaf its wrapped in, the memories it brought back. What a treat!
A more classic take on Hakata Minazuki・博多水無月 from Flower Moon・花月堂, a truly beautiful shop that I stopped by for the first time. That’s one of my favourite parts (top fav is the sweets) about finding all the minazuki in the city, it gives me a great reason to explore new areas of the city and new sweet shops.
This one is wrapped so perfectly with a bamboo leaf and is adzuki flavoured with tiny little beans scattered throughout. Perfect on a hot day like today! Like I mentioned before, this is traditionally eaten to ward off evil spirits and I am happy to contribute by eating as many as I can.
Love an interactive sweet! This pudding is from Izumiya・和菓子処 泉屋. Annin dōfu・杏仁豆腐 is an immensely popular dessert from China that has a lot of popularity here too, it is an almond tofu pudding and I absolutely adore it, particularly as an ice cream flavour. And of course, as a variation of Hakata minazuki! The green is actually from the bamboo leaf they are typically wrapped in, behind it is the red bean jelly with the annin dōfu on top while I drown it in lemon syrup. It was incredibly good, but I think I prefer the classic version of the pudding.
The cutest package wrapped in a bamboo leaf from Sanshodō・参松堂. This is another sweet using amanatsu・甘夏, a sweet, Japanese citrus fruit. When you open the leaf, the wooden pick holding it together becomes the fork. Its a wonderful little citrus-y jelly with red beans sprinkled throughout. I can’t wait for more of these!