New & Old

New to me, though founded in 1850 in Saga prefecture, Ohara・大原 is adorable with the kindest staff and fun new treats. In the middle are a red bean and white bean sweet with a texture someone close to marzipan with a gritty sweetness. The white and pink one was soft and doughier with a sakura jelly feel to the pink petals. It was really a lovely store and I can’t wait to return.

Holding On

From a little while ago, from Rabbit Moon・兎月, the end of sakura season shown as a single stray petal. Filled with creamy red bean paste and bittersweet with the thought of the blooms passing. I’ll borrow from my friend’s translation of a 9th-century poem by Ariwara no Narihira about sakura season in Japan:

世の中にたえて桜のなかりせば春の心はのどけからまし

If there were no cherry blossoms in this world, my spring heart would be calm.

Memory Lane

Possibly the first time I’ve had fū manjū・麩饅頭 from Kumaya・熊屋, this was a soft, moist and salty black sesame dough with smooth & light red bean paste inside. They are the perfect thing during hot weather because they feel simultaneously refreshing & hydrating while light and fluffy. The last area I lived in Tokyo had a sweet shop that specialized in these and were probably the last ones I had eaten. Happy to break the spell.

Adrenaline

Nothing fills my heart and soul with a greater rush of emotion that finding a new sweet shop and asking questions to the staff about every single one of their products. It’s wonderful, it’s fun (for everyone I hope) and I learn so much. Enter Kuyama・熊屋 a shop from Nagasaki, with the nicest staff and really unique sweets. On top is a brown sugar mochi and the shiny pink ball is a strawberry jelly case around a cream and white bean paste interior. I went late in the afternoon when there was only a little left in terms of selection or room in my stomach. I will go back next week without fail.

Hearts to Heavens

This is in Yusentei, the beautiful magical historical Japanese garden and tea house about a 10 minute walk from me. I never go here enough. picked up a sakura & white bean filled pastry and relaxed there for the afternoon. There was a wedding being photographed there, unsurprisingly because it is so beautiful but it was the first time I had seen it! You can get a bit more of a sense of the building with these pictures maybe.

A Deluxe Cake, Indeed

This is another from Suzuya, a famous (in the world of Japanese sweets) shop in Wakayama prefecture. On a bus ride after our pilgrimage hike, my friend who is well accustomed to my sweet tooth sent me a link for this place she had happened to find close by. I was so excited, how lucky to just happen across this place! Their signature item is called Deluxe Cake and it is really delightful and even by my standards, fairly sweet. It is a sort of cake that sandwiches a white and red bean jam paste that is wrapped in white chocolate. Definitely not for every day, but it is amazing. Fun fact, the heir to the Japanese throne, Prince Ashikino and his then wife Princess Noriko were served these cakes when they visited the area.