Wagashi or traditional Japanese confectionery goes beyond sugar rush. It is an art form. First flourished in the ancient Imperial capital Kyoto, these treats have long since been representative of Japan’s culture. In particular, it is a tangible expression of the Japanese love for nature and its seasons and is typically a part of celebrations, whether cultural or personal milestones.

There are actually many types of Wagashi in existence. It comes in various shapes, textures, and colors, using diverse ingredients and preparation methods. Be warned, though. These delicacies can be too pretty to eat, yet too tempting not to. If you’re up for this kind of struggle, then, by all means, dive head first into the sweet world of Wagashi. To get you started, here are 15 wagashi shops in Tokyo to sample the best traditional Japanese sweets.

1. Echigoya Wakasa (越後屋若狭)

Yokan is one of the oldest types of Wagashi. It is a firm, jellied dessert made of azuki beans, agar, and sugar. It comes in different flavors but the typical ones are red beans, green tea, and black sugar, having a rather refreshing taste with just the right amount of natural sweetness. Usually sold as a bar and served in small slices, Yokan is enjoyed all throughout the year. The Mizu Yokan, a type of Yokan that contains more water, is best served chilled during summer.

In Tokyo, Echigoya Wakasa is the go-to place for Yokan since the 1700’s. The price is steep for a small box – about ¥3,000, but it’s definitely the most exquisite Yokan you’ll ever get to try. These products also have a long shelf life so if you do like them a lot, you can buy a few more bars to bring home!

Do take note that their bars and other sweets are highly coveted that you can’t purchase one without a prior reservation. Store contact details are provided below.

Address: 1-8-4 Chitose Sumida Tokyo

Price: ¥4,000 ~ ¥4,999

Website: http://tabelog.com/en/tokyo/A1312/A131201/13046248/ (Japanese only)

2. Usagiya (うさぎや)

This shop in Ueno is most famous for its Dorayaki – a traditional Japanese pancake-like confection with azuki bean paste filling. If you’re familiar with the popular anime/manga character Doraemon, this is his favorite snack.

An institution established in 1914, Usagiya is credited to have invented the double layer pancake version, which is now the standard for all Dorayaki sold in the market today. This store sells freshly baked Dorayaki, and eating it while it’s still warm is strongly recommended.

Address: 1-10-10 Ueno Taito Tokyo

Price: ~ ¥999

Website: http://www.ueno-usagiya.jp (Japanese only)

3. Ikkouan (一幸庵)

Common to all renowned Wagashi specialists is their focus on high-quality ingredients. For Ikkouan, this can’t be truer. The store only uses 100% bracken starch, an ingredient that is not at all in abundance or cheap, for its signature confection Warabimochi. Not all shops do this, which is why this Ikkouan specialty particularly stands out.

Warabimochi is jelly-like bracken starch dumplings covered in Kinako (sweet toasted soybean flour) powder. A popular summer dessert, it is best served chilled with a dollop of Kuromitsu (black sugar syrup).

Address: 5-3-15 Koishikawa Bunkyo Tokyo

Price: ¥1,000 ~ ¥1,999

Website: https://ja-jp.facebook.com/ikkoan

4. Sasama (御菓子処 さゝま)

Sasama’s creations change with the seasons. There’s a special motif for each month, which is of course inspired by the colors of nature. However, while the looks deliver on the wow factor, it isn’t the main reason why customers always come back for Sasama’s confections.

The answer lies in the core. Regardless of the appearance or the season, their products’ anko (adzuki bean jam) has a consistent quality. It is always full of flavor, and as a result, what they offer to the market are specialties that combine flair and substance –visual masterpieces that are at the same time bite-sized indulgences.

Address: 1-23 Kanda Jinbocho Chiyoda Tokyo

Price: ¥1,000 ~ ¥1,999

Website: http://www.sasama.co.jp/ (Japanese only)

5. Murasakino Wakuden (紫野和久傳 茶寮)

Murasakino Wakuden brings the elegance of Kyoto to Tokyo’s central business district. More than just a sweets shop, it is a traditional teahouse with over a century’s worth of expertise in Japanese tea ceremony. Just the same as its original branch in Kyoto, here you can enjoy a Kaiseki meal with a wide selection of special tea, not to mention the traditional sweets that go best with it. For Wagashi, the Seiko is a Murasakino Wakuden exclusive item. It is a creation made from the special Japanese sugar called Wasanbon and lotus starch. Wrapped in bamboo leaves, it looks and tastes exquisite. A rare dessert that truly captures Murasakino Wakuden’s refinement.

Address: 1F Shin-Tokyo Building 3-3-1 Marunouchi Chiyoda Tokyo

Price: ¥2,000 ~ ¥2,999

Website: http://www.wakuden.jp/tenpo-maru-chaka/ (Japanese only)

6. Gunrindo (群林堂)

Mame Daifuku is a ball-shaped mochi with azuki bean paste core and bits of salty beans kneaded into the dough. It is a popular Wagashi that is enjoyed all year round, but amazingly despite its “commonness”, customers lining up for Gunrindo’s Mame Daifuku is an everyday thing. Gunrindo is among Tokyo’s Top 3 makers of this mochi bestseller known for its generous serving and rich anko taste. The store closes when their supply runs out, so it’s always better to drop by early.

Address: 2-1-2 Otowa Bunkyo Tokyo

Price: ~ ¥999

Website: http://tabelog.com/en/tokyo/A1323/A132302/13003816/ (Japanese only)

7. Sougetsu (草月)

There’s something special about Sougetsu’s Dorayaki and it’s in the filling. Their version uses Kuromatsu, which is made of brown sugar and honey. If you like your Japanese pancakes sweeter than usual, this is where you should get them. As with all popular eats in Tokyo, prepare for long lines.

Address: 2-15-16 Higashijujo Kita Tokyo

Price: ~ ¥999

Website: http://www.sogetsu.co.jp/ (Japanese only)

8. Kuriyakashi Kurogi (廚菓子くろぎ)

There are many reasons why you should try dining at Kuriyakashi Kurogi but let us convince you with just three. First is the lovely setting. Inside the grounds of the University of Tokyo under impressive wooden eaves, the café is a nice hideaway for a lazy afternoon in the megacity. Second is the Kurogi brand, which is run by Iron Chef Jun Kurogi, one of Tokyo’s in-demand. The third is their made to order artisan Wagashi.

The café has an open kitchen so you can see the tedious process that goes behind the beautiful desserts that you will soon enjoy. Signature dishes vary with the season. For instance, the featured Wagashi in the summer is Kuzukiri (gelatinous noodles served chilled with a sweet syrup and Kinako powder). While during winter and spring, Warabimochi takes center stage.

Address: 7-3-1 Hongo Bunkyo Tokyo

Price: ¥1,000 ~ ¥1,999

Website: http://www.wagashi-kurogi.co.jp/ (Japanese only)

9. Kuuya (空也)

When it comes to Monaka, Kuuya is top of mind. Sold for more than a century, Kuuya’s mochi flour wafers with azuki bean filling are popular omiyage (gifts to bring home). A box of 10 costs about a little over ¥1,000 with a 7-day shelf-life. It’s impossible though to get a hold of it without a reservation. Visit the website provided below for the store’s contact details.

Address: 6-7-19 Ginza Chuo Tokyo

Price: ~ ¥999

Website: http://tabelog.com/en/tokyo/A1301/A130101/13002591/ (Japanese only)

10. Chimoto (ちもと)

For a literally cool treat, there’s the Kakigori. It is basically shaved ice with syrup. The ones served in Chimoto have a special surprise at the bottom of the bowl. What it is, we’ll leave it to you to find out for yourselves.

Chimoto is a popular dessert café that specializes in Wagashi. It has limited seating but the ambiance is very nice. It has an Edo-period vibe to it, which is just perfect for enjoying traditional sweets.

Aside from Kakigori, it is famous for its Yumochi – the store’s original Wagashi and a popular regional souvenir from Hakone. Inside the leaf packaging is a square slice of white mochi with strips of yokan. It has a fluffy consistency like a marshmallow and a tinge of yuzu or citrus for its flavor.

Address: 1-4-6 Yakumo Meguro Tokyo

Price: ~ ¥999

Website: http://tabelog.com/en/tokyo/A1317/A131702/13003218/ (Japanese only)

11. Toraya (とらや)

Toraya has over 500 years worth of experience under its belt. They used to serve sweets at the Imperial court and now they are available to the general public. They have six branches in Tokyo with their flagship store located in Akasaka (temporarily closed for renovation until 2018). With the exception of Nihombashi branch, their shops also have a tea room for those who want to dine in. Order their popular Anmitsu, a bowl of agar jelly cubes, anko, boiled peas, and fruits in sweet syrup. For takeout options, their Yokan is highly recommended. It comes in 4 different sizes and 8 distinct flavors.

Address: 7-8-6 Ginza Chuo Tokyo

Price: ¥1,000 ~ ¥1,999

Website: https://www.toraya-group.co.jp (Japanese only)

12. Nagato (長門)

Another confectioner with a long history is Nagato. This time around, we’re talking about 300 years. Their bestseller is the Kuzumochi, mochi cakes made of rare kudzu starch. For something with a more seasonal appeal, go for a box of hannama-gashi. These are a collection of soft, semi-baked Wagashi usually for tea ceremonies and typically designed to reflect the colors of the season.

Address: 3-1-3 Nihonbashi Chuo Tokyo

Price: ~ ¥999

Website: http://nagato.ne.jp/index.php (Japanese only)

13. Akasaka Aono (赤坂青野)

This nicely wrapped treat is called Akasaka Mochi, Aono’s signature kinako mochi made more special with walnut and brown sugar. Established in 1899, Aono now has five branches in the city. Just like their flagship item, their products come in elegant packaging perfect to be given as gifts.

Address: 3-1-11 Akasaka Minato Tokyo

Price: ~ ¥999

Website: http://www.akasaka-aono.com/ (Japanese only)

14. Higashiya Ginza

Higashiya’s Ginza tea room is a gorgeous second-floor shop that overlooks Ginza’s main boulevard. It is a space for luxurious dining that offers 30 varieties of tea, lunch menus, and of course, Wagashi. Particularly interesting among their selection is their Hitokuchigashi, a dozen serving of different bite-sized sweets.

Address: Pola Ginza Building 2F 1 Chome-7-7 Ginza Chuo Tokyo

Price: ¥5,000 ~ ¥5,999

Website: http://www.higashiya.com/en/

15. Shiose Souhonke Honten (塩瀬総本家 本店)

You may have noticed that many Wagashi shops have deep histories and are among the longest-standing establishments in Japan. That being said, Shiose is the oldest traditional confectioner in this list, founded in Nara in 1349. The main branch today is located in Tsukiji area, while other branches in Tokyo can be found in Shibuya, Ginza, and Nihonbashi.

Known to have created the Manju type of Wagashi, the store’s Hon Manju (original bean buns) is a classic recipe that hasn’t changed for more than 600 years. On top of centuries-old offerings, they also serve Wagashi relevant to the times. Case in point, this cute Hello Kitty manju. Definitely kawaii!

Address: ‪7-14 Akashicho, Chuo, Tokyo

Price: ~ ¥999

Website: https://www.shiose.co.jp (Japanese only)

Information in this article is as of August 2016. Refer to the official websites for the latest information.

Thumbnail image is from Wiki Media Commons.