Everybody has heard of green tea ice cream, mochi, and taiyaki. But when you examine Japanese cuisine a little deeper you will uncover a myriad of sumptuous sweets that people in the Land of the Rising Sun eat on a daily basis. Put simply, Japan must have the greatest selection of desserts in all of Asia!
Mochi is a small yet beautifully formed glutinous rice cake that can be filled with sweet goodness or just left hollow. These are undoubtedly one of the most famous Japanese sweets, and can be found on the menu of almost all Japanese restaurants worldwide.
Another of the most famous sweets in Japan is Dorayaki, which is a flat pancake filled with almost any filling imaginable, including cream cheese and red bean paste.
One of the original ‘ice cream sandwiches’ was Monaka, which takes a dollap of ice cream and places it between two wafer-like shells. This can be eaten on the move, as the wafers protect your hands from getting wet and sticky.
Nowhere more so than in Japan are Chocolate Bananas consumed! They are often served on sticks as street food from yatai carts around the country (especially in Kanto), and are covered in sprinkles for added effect!
Honey Toast (sometimes referred to as Shibuya Toast) is a dish of thick bread, usually with a sweet topping and eaten for dessert. A common topping is ice cream, but recently Honey Toast dishes have been getting more and more imaginative!
A healthy option, Anmitsu is made of sweet agar jelly and combined with red bean paste and fresh fruits, most commonly melon and cherries.
A sponge cake from the Nagasaki region of Japan, Castella certainly looks as good as it tastes! It is similar in appearance to marble cake from America, and is often sold in collectible boxes as a souvenir for tourists.
Shiruko is another traditional Japanese dessert. It may not look appetising to everyone, but this sweet porridge made of azuki beans is immensely popular in the Land of the Rising Sun.
There are so many shaved ice desserts in Asia, including the likes Xua Hau Bing from Taiwan and Bingsu from Korea, but the Japanese version is Kakigori, and these are usually softer than their Asian counterparts, and can be topped with fresh sauces.
One of the more traditional Japanese desserts in this list is the Melonpan. These are round breaded buns that have a distinctive melon taste and were originally introduced to Japan by the Portuguese.
It is not just Americans that have unhealthy deep-fried desserts. In Japan, Sata Andagi are palm-sized balls of dough are coated in sticky sugar to make for a very sweet treat!
Anpan is a sweet bread roll that is traditionally filled with the eponymous sweet bean paste (so many desserts in Japan are made from this paste). The rolls can be topped with sugar or sesame seeds.
Japan’s own answer to the American marshmallow is Dango. These small ‘dumpling’ desserts are usually served on skewers, although they can also be eaten from a plate with ice cream and consumed with green tea.
Hakuto Jelly is a seasonal dessert from the jelly of fresh and ripened Hakuto peaches. It is a very expensive dessert and commonly associated with the upper class.
Taking the appearance of sweets to a new level, Ichigo Daifuku is a form of daifuku that has been filled with a whole strawberry (and often red bean paste). This is known as a fancy dessert, but it can also be purchased as a snack to eat on the move!
Matcha Ice Cream is an extremely common example of a Japanese dessert. Although, the Japanese did not invent ice cream, they have flavoured it with one of their traditional flavours, matcha (or green tea), and it is now sold by the bucketload in the country.
What is your favourite dessert from Japan? Does Japan have better desserts overall than the likes of Thailand, China, and South Korea?