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!
Sweets in the wild! I met a friend in Hakata, central Fukuoka and the namesake for this month’s wagashi, Hakata minazuki・博多水無月. This one (on the right) from Imada・今田和菓子 is pineapple, agar agar (algae gelatin) and white bean based and was so refreshing on a hot day.
Outside of Rabbit Moon・兎月 I saw this poster that details all the shops participating in making minazuki and what flavours they have. Well, I took it as a challenge. 2 down, many more to go! They are really spread out throughout the prefecture so I will have lots of opportunity to explore and walk around.
Like I mentioned before, the name is taken from the ancient Japanese calendar word for June. Luckily these sweets will be around until the end of July. I need to get busy!
Mini Japanese lesson! It’s about sweets, it’s important. Sweets are sometimes called kashi・菓子. There are different ways, but that is one of them. Putting another character (in our case, the character: 和) the sound is changed to ‘gashi’.
The ‘wa’ in wagashi・和菓子 refers to Japanese style. (It is also the same character in Reiwa・令, the current Japanese age. It is now year 3 in Reiwa, it began when the previous emperor absconded and his son ascended. Anyway!) The vast majority of the sweets I write about are wagashi. The ‘yo’ in yōgashi・洋菓子 refers to western style. Think cookies, cupcakes, whatever.
This super cool minazuki・水無月 from Rabbit Moon・兎月 is a unusual combo of the both! This is actually a Fukuoka original as I learned. A jellied sweet wrapped in a bamboo leaf, usually red bean or matcha flavour traditionally eaten in the summer. The flavour of mine? French salted caramel! I’ve never tried anything like it, it was so good, I will eat many more this summer I’m sure.