Best Desserts in Japan Hit List 

One day, in another lifetime, I might be born with less of a sweet tooth but until that day arrives, I find myself in a bit of a calorific pickle. Perhaps, with insight into this issue, I ought to have selected a life partner who doesn’t share my love of desserts but with Pumpkin being just as guilty of sugar-crimes against our bodies, we both confess that our diets could do with a spot of tweaking. I’m working on it, I’m working on it – less of the judgement please.

Japanese desserts
Purple Potato & Black Sesame Gelato

When it came to our trip to Japan last year, however, even Pumpkin bowed out, asserting that he would not be partaking in any Japanese dessert-related shenanigans with me, totally un-inspired by flavours such as black sesame, red bean and green tea.

You would have thought that this may have paused me in my saccharine tracks.

You would have been wrong.

black sesame choux cream puff
Black Sesame Cream Puffs

As promised in my earlier post on 15 foods you must try in Japan, today I present to you,  my (worryingly long) list of Japanese dessert highlights. Ranking them presented too much of a culinary conundrum (and had me raiding the house for Japanese dessert stashes – hardly sensible and hardly a store cupboard ingredient in most homes) so I gave up on that idea and boxed them into categories. In the interests of blogger research, I of course, had no choice but to sample one from each category 😀

Dessert Highlights from Japan

The Breakfast Dessert

I figured I can be let off for this matcha croissant (with matcha sponge cake somehow weaved into it) since breakfast is the most important meal of the day and therefore should really be excluded from any holiday dessert tallies right?

matcha croissant Japan

And a croissant or Danish-style pastry is hardly a criminal offence at breakfast time. Conscience appeased. Let’s move on.

matcha desserts Japan

The Seasonal Dessert

Chefs all around the world make a point of emphasising the perks of investing in, cooking with and of course, sampling seasonal produce. We’ve all seen how inexplicably popular the Starbucks seasonal specials are each year at Halloween and Christmas time. Seasonal ingredients are a must-try, particularly when you’re travelling abroad and coming across flavours that you’ll almost never find back at home; for me in Japan, that was sakura (cherry blossom) desserts.

sakura cherry blossom eclair

During our day trip to the Fuji Shibazakura Festival, immersed among swathes of pink fields, we found a patisserie serving almost entirely sakura desserts, I found this heavenly cherry blossom sakura eclair, filled with strawberries from the Fuji region (that we went on to pick ourselves later that day).

The Soft Serves

I had never anticipated just how popular soft serves are in Japan. We found them in every city and in ample flavour choices.

matcha soft serve Japan food highlights

I slurped down the first one within 8 hours of checking into our first hotel in Tokyo and after all that talk of seasonal sakura joy, I couldn’t let the month of April pass without sampling a sakura soft serve.

20160419_122137-02.jpeg
Cherry Blossom Sakura Soft Serve

There was no chance of Pumpkin wanting to share in my purple sweet potato and black sesame combi soft serve so I had that one to myself and it will come as no surprise to those of you who have sussed out my tastes that matcha featured on more than one occasion.

what to eat in Japan

Matcha Parfaits in Kyoto

If you are equally matcha-savvy, then there is nowhere better in Japan to go experimenting for matcha desserts than the Gion district of Kyoto (the Geisha region and the origin of the matcha green tea ceremony.) The streets are lined with dessert parlours selling parfaits (which, to many of us, are best recognised as ice cream sundaes).

Matcha desserts Kyoto
Do the azuki beans count as 1 of my 5 a day?

We headed to world-famous Tsujiri, a Kyoto tea house institution dating back to the 1800s and now present in various locations across the world (including London – hurrah!) Although the menus leave diners with an impossible array of temptation, I went with one of the most traditional types of matcha parfait with azuki beans, chestnuts and a whole load of other treats.

Tsujiri Matcha Parfait Kyoto

Unfortunately, I am unable to list them because I was too infatuated by my dessert to have eyes for anyone or anything else, as my long silver spoon scraped the walls of the sundae glass till the final ice cream residue was out of sight.

Tsujiri Matcha Menu

London-based matcha lovers can have a green-tea feast of their own on this matcha walking tour I went on last year.

The Floral Dessert

And from a conventional parfait in the traditional city of Kyoto to an altogether unique parfait in the modern city of Tokyo, I have Nano to thank for introducing me to the rose flower parfait I devoured at the Aoyama Flower Market Tea House in Omotesando. Akin to something one might expect to order in the Garden of Eden, this glass encased a dessert, comprising vanilla ice cream, rose jelly, fresh berries and nuts, felt suitable for the most elegant of royalty.

flower parfait Aoyama flower market tea house

In actual fact, I felt a little like a fraud, being privy to a delectable delicacy of such finesse. Needless to say, much time was spent trying to capture its grace through the lens, whilst a bewildered Pumpkin looked on in dismay as myself and around a dozen women around me did the same.

The Train Station Dessert

Buying a snack at a train station is hardly exclusive to Japan. Buying a snack because you’ve spent an hour wandering around a train station trying to find the correct platform or exit perhaps is though.

Baked Cheese Tart Shinjuku

I’ve already touched on the magnitude of Shinjuku Train Station in my post about travel tips for Japan but one of the perks of being lost in a station of this size is that we stumbled upon Baked Cheese Tart and the queues around it.

Baked Cheese Tart Tokyo

Needless to say, the FOMO kicked in and a few minutes later, I had one in hand. It was sweet (obviously, given its mention in my dessert round-up post) and filled with a creamy, comforting, cheese filling served warm and contained within a crispy pastry shell, just bite sized enough to draw in even the dieters.

Baked Cheese Tart dessert

The Island Special dessert

The island I am referring to is Miyajima, which for me, was the most enchanting place we visited in Japan. The morning we were leaving the island, as the shops started to come to life, we found an abundance what looked rather like mini star-shaped cakes.

Momiji Manjyu Cake Miyajima island
A Momiji “Maple Leaf” Cake in Miyajima

Actually  made from a fluffy, melt in the mouth casing, similar to a pancake but packed full of soft and creamy filling, some of these Momiji, which translates to maple leaf) were being made freshly on the premises of shops, whilst other pre-packaged ones were being touted by competing neighbouring stores.

The One that got away….from London- Cream Puffs

Many years ago, it must have been around just under a decade ago, my sister and I read an article about a new Japanese cream puff place that had opened up in the centre of London. Known as Beard Papa Cream Puffs, on our measly salaries, we marched down there and could not believe it was still such a well-kept secret.

Beard Papa Osakachocolate cream puffs choux

With a couple of staple flavours that were there each time and the occasional matcha filled cream puffs (which back then, was nothing like the trend it is now), this soon became our go-to place for late night dessert treats. And then it shut, silencing us and perhaps serving us a signal from above about curtailing our cream-puff consumption.

choux cream puffs

There was not a chance, therefore, that I was going to walk past the branch of Beard Papa at Osaka Station without reacquainting myself with these and however much Pumpkin may have been cringing as I photographed the stall, it had to be done so I could send it to my sister for nostalgia purposes; though I perhaps had less persuasive excuses for the other custard-filled choux indulgences I might have dabbled in en route…

best desserts Japan

The Colourful Dessert

I didn’t order this dessert at the Kawaii Monster Cafe, which I am going to be blogging all about in due course. I took a break from all the eating here and kept hydrated instead with a juice but when I spotted a neighbouring diner being served this slab of cake, it simply had to feature for quite possibly the most psychedelic, colourful cake I have ever laid eyes on.

best unique desserts Tokyo
And the psychedelic cake Oscar goes to…

The Kawaii Cute Desserts

Not all of the desserts we found in Japan were noteworthy for their flavours. These ice creams we ordered at the Maid Cafe were more photogenic than they were high quality but no one really goes to these places for high-end cuisine and their visuals alone together with the quirky experience were worth the visit.

Maid Cafe Desserts

If you know nothing about maid cafes, have a read of my recent post on my top “Only in Japan” moments. 

@home Maid Cafe Tokyo

The Fancy Fine Dining Dessert

Fine Dining wasn’t high on my radar when I visited Japan, as we mostly love to experience more authentic cuisines and eat where the locals eat. Tokyo is, however, one of the most incredible cities in the world for the fine dining experience so as a one-off, we headed to Kozue at the Park Hyatt and whilst the oblong slab of black sesame dessert I ordered is certainly an acquired taste, it was a suitably bold ending to a meal that pushed the boundaries of contemporary Japanese cuisine.

Romantic Restaurants Tokyo
Black (Sesame) Magic

The Take Home Souvenir Dessert

And finally, I will conclude with the desserts we brought back home as souvenirs and gifts for others in the form of wagashi (traditional small pieces of Japanese confectionery, traditionally served with tea).

A huge selection were available in the food halls of many large department stores including Takashimaya and Isetan with flavours ranging from matcha, peach and sakura to red bean and chestnut.

Londoners, if you are intrigued, Minamoto Kitchoan in Picccadilly and Charing Cross serve flawlessly presented wagashi.

Are you a fan of Japanese desserts? Have any of my favourite finds appealed to your sugar senses?

57 thoughts on “Best Desserts in Japan Hit List 

  1. Rosemary Tricoglus February 20, 2017 — 6:21 pm

    Hi

    I was so looking forward to reading your latest blog – Best Desserts in Japan but the link to reading the full post doesn’t seem to be working!

    Best regards Rosemary

    Sent from my iPad

    >

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) February 27, 2017 — 7:00 am

      Thank you so much for letting me know Rosemary & for wanting to read. My apologies for the error & I think it’s sorted now so I hope you’re now able to see the full post & more importantly, I hope it was worth the few days of waiting ☺

  2. Oh my goodness, Shikha, this makes me want to go straight back to Japan! I had so many of the same dessert treats – and I did actually order the rainbow cake from the Kawaii Monster Cafe (sugar overload).

    Absolutely love this post ❤

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) February 27, 2017 — 7:07 am

      Thanks so much for your lovely comment! I’m quite excited to hear you ordered that colourful cake Kasha!! I really wanted to but I think that would have been my 3rd sweet treat that day so I had to put a lid on it! 😀 I do think Japanese desserts are a bit of an acquired taste but I’m delighted to hear I’ve found a fellow enjoyer of them in you!

  3. thesweatergiraffe February 22, 2017 — 10:28 am

    I think this might be the greatest article I’ve ever read?? I want to get my grubby hands on all of those sweets IMMEDIATELY dang!!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) February 27, 2017 — 7:18 am

      Haha, this comment made me chuckle & totally made my day! Thank you! I’m so pleased to hear you enjoyed it (& didn’t judge me too much for my dessert consumption😀) They seemed to have infinite choices of tasty desserts there!

  4. Mmmmmm……. black sesame, matcha, Sakura. So yummy. Great post, it made my mouth water and reminded me of all the delicious things I have eaten in Japan. And… I’m going back, so some of your list will be included on my new list. Thanks ☺

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) February 27, 2017 — 7:20 am

      Oh how exciting that you are returning! I would love to go back myself one day (and not just for the desserts though they certainly help!!) I’m a big fan of the 3 flavours you mentioned & found them in so many different dishes & treats out there. So nom! ☺

  5. I was so interested to read this post because there are so many Japanese desserts in Hawaii. I love flavors like matcha and green tea and I try to get them wherever I can. In the biggest mall of Hawaii, there is an entire Japanese food court in the basement where I tried coffee jelly for the first time. It was so good!! I need to try Momiji. Actually, I am going to go back to that food court and keep my eyes out for the desserts you wrote about!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) February 27, 2017 — 7:23 am

      Thanks so much for reading Carolann & it’s funny, my hubby saw your comment before I did & said to me, “I bet you want to go to Hawaii to try more Japanese dessert now” (like I needed any more reasons at all 😀) I saw your pic of the coffee jelly I think on insta & found that such an intriguing concept & hadn’t realise at all until you mentioned it that Japanese flavours feature heavily there.

      1. Haha! I think you definitely need to give Hawaii a try! You would love exploring here! And of course, eating!

  6. Planes & Champagne February 24, 2017 — 12:43 am

    Shikha do you have any idea how much you are making me salivate right now lol!!! I wish my hubbie had a sweet tooth too…he usually glares at me as if too say ‘another dessert’?!! These desserts look incredible and so different to anything you find at home! It’s too difficult to pick a favourite as they all look so delicious but I’m loving the Gelato imprint on your ice-cream cone!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) February 27, 2017 — 7:29 am

      Hehe, I loved that imprint too Maggie & rarely order ice cream in cones (usu cups) but couldn’t resist the photo opp with a labelled one! My hubby does have a sweet tooth but he jokes that his ends in Eastern Europe ie. he’s all for German strudel or French patisserie but hasn’t got a palate for Asian desserts / Middle Eastern / Indian ones etc. Had to conquer these alone therefore in Japan – hard times 😀

  7. so many nice desserts! you really had to sacrifice yourself to present to us this list:))

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) February 27, 2017 — 7:30 am

      Hehe, I couldn’t possibly let my readers down right Tanja? totally selfless intentions when I scoffed my way through all these..😉

  8. One thing I liked about the Japanese desserts was that actually weren’t too sugary, like so that they put your teeth on edge! We loved the soft serve too, I think I have one every day! I actually really liked the dessert at the maids cafe even though I know it wasn’t the best quality lol!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) February 27, 2017 — 7:33 am

      Yes I agree Angie, they’re so much less sugar-loaded than desserts in the west that in a funny way, for some of the small ones like wagashi, it was hard to even believe it’s not good for you! Your maid café desserts sound like they were quite nice. I think I’d have liked mine a bit more if they didn’t put so much whipped cream in it as that’s what I’m not a big fan of.

  9. I think I could get very fat very quickly in Japan, by the looks of this guide. I love the idea of the matches croissant!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) February 27, 2017 — 7:35 am

      The matcha croissant was delicious Katie, though the layer of matcha cake on top of it was perhaps one indulgence too far – particularly for breakfast!

  10. Well. This certainly caught my attention. Sweet sweets!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) February 27, 2017 — 7:37 am

      Thank you for reading – there were so many sweet sweets everywhere in Japan – absolutely endless temptation!

  11. Wow, Shikha! Don’t know much about Japanese desserts, so this was a mouth-watering eye-opener for me! How interesting! (btw, there’s a Japanese dessert shop on Piccadilly – it’s like entering another world..)

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) March 3, 2017 — 5:43 pm

      I know the one you meant I think Aaron – might well be the one I’ve mentioned in the last paragraph I have a feeling! I’m so glad this has whet the appetite to try some Japanese dessert & confectionery – the flavours aren’t to everyone’s taste but personally, I love them! ☺

  12. I’ve been terrible with blog reading this month and am just catching up with all the posts I bookmarked. Shikha, it’s 11 pm and you made me want to get up and head out to find a confectionary and indulge in all the sweet carbs I can find! What an enticing list! Thank you so so much for the feature, I’m happy you like the Aoyama Flower Market cafe, it still is my favorite spot in Tokyo! They already started putting out sakura-flavored desserts too!! xoxo, nano

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) March 3, 2017 — 5:46 pm

      Ohhhh! Why oh why did you tell me that about the sakura seasonal specials Nano – I might have made you want to get out of bed for sugar but you have made me want to get on an international flight!! Thanks so much for your recommendations – that flower parfait genuinely looks like something from the heavens! x

      1. Shikha, I still kick myself in the butt for not being able to meet up when you were here so all I want is for you to cone back!! So yeah, I’ll continue teasing you with all the treats there are!! 🙂

  13. Nothing wrong with being a dessert fiend! If I’m honest I’ve eaten dessert for breakfast far more often than is socially acceptable, so I’m pleased that you’ve decided that it doesn’t count 😉 No regrets

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) March 3, 2017 — 6:01 pm

      Ironically, I’ve eaten dessert for breakfast many a time too and pizza for breakfast on a few occasions too – it’s just a worry that I rarely actually eat breakfast for breakfast Frankie! 😁

      1. SAAAAAAME! Breakfast for breakfast is rank. But toast in the evening? All the time!

  14. I love everything sweet but I’ve always been a bit wary of the crazy sounding flavours of asian desserts but you’ve done an amazing job of selling them to me Shikha! Next time I make it over to Japan I’ll have to try some of these!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) March 4, 2017 — 3:53 pm

      Haha, I don’t blame you Keri as some of the flavours are very much an acquired taste & not everyone’s cuppa! But I hope that in between this list of varying sweet treats, that there might be something I might have been able to tempt you towards! Thanks so much for reading ☺

  15. Nom nom nom… Yum! Now I have my sweet tooth, would love a trip to Japan to devour these favs of mine.
    So glad Japanese dessert seems to be the new thing hitting the London scene now!
    Hoikaiddo should be your next venture when in Japan, they have the best diary products and the best cheese cake that actually taste like cheese! X

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) March 11, 2017 — 9:24 pm

      I am glad that (at least temporarily anyway) I have someone to share my dessert love with all the more so with these Japanese desserts which definitely aren’t Pumpkin’s thing!! ☺ I would really like to visit Hokkaido next time and so much more of Japan I want to see. In actual fact, the baked cheese tart I’ve featured in this post is actually from a chain called Hokkaido Baked Cheese Tart!

  16. I think I’ve put on about a stone just looking at all of these! that croissant looks TO DIE FOR!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) March 11, 2017 — 9:27 pm

      Hehe, we did so much walking whilst we were there that I think I would have actually LOST a stone if I hadn’t gorged on all this!! The croissant was a work of genius – a matcha croissant with actual matcha cake built into it! Not quite a healthy brekky but hey, at least it had some anti oxidants from the matcha right?! 😉

  17. Oh my, I’m now having sugar-coated palpitations! Cherry Blossom dessert sounds divine and matcha – I still haven’t tried it. I’m just going to have to go to Japan for one huge sugar fest. Love this post Shikha 🙂

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) March 11, 2017 — 9:29 pm

      Awww thank you so much Suzanne! I’m so pleased you enjoyed it and if you fancy satisfying your matcha curiosity before you head to Japan, I’m pleased to report loads of places have now opened up in London that are tapping into the trend!

      1. I definitely need to check them out as it could be a while before Japan beckons 🙂

  18. That looks decisiona dn a msut try. Thanks for this. Atleast if ever I’ll go to Japan I know what to eat then. ♥☺

    https://maryclairepinticasi.wordpress.com

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) March 11, 2017 — 9:32 pm

      Honestly Mary Claire, there is just SO much choice of incredibly tasty sweet and savoury food out there – it’s a foodie lover’s heaven! ☺

      1. Awww I’ll deffo try whats on your list soon when I get to travel to Japan. Thank yoou!! ♡

  19. Wow great post on some tasty looking treats, that matcha croissant is something else! 🙂

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) March 11, 2017 — 9:37 pm

      Thanks so much Becky! Definitely one of the greenest &:most decadent croissants I’ve had! 💚☺

  20. Oh my goodness, so much yumminess! I have such a huge sweet tooth too, and I would LOVE to have a partner who loves sweets as much as I do! D wasn’t so into sweets, so he often talked me out of getting stuff. I never got a matcha parfait in Kyoto! And that rose water dessert and sakura soft serve both sound SO good!! I did eat a lot of cream puffs from Beard Papa though. 🙂

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) March 11, 2017 — 9:41 pm

      Those cream puffs are so divine aren’t they?! My sister and I were so bummed when beard Papa vanishes from London! I think I expected to get my fair share of matcha dessert on my trip to Japan but certainly wasn’t expecting all these other seasonal & unusual offerings like the sakura desserts & ALL the parfaits! If you’re ever back, highly recommend the matcha parfait and if we can ever be lucky enough to cross paths, we’ll have to sort out a dessert date! ☺

  21. Oh my gosh… You’re making me want to go back to Japan right now! I wish I had the opportunity to try the sakura ice cream but they weren’t in season, was it good? Love love love Beard Papa! You can imagine our delight when we discovered one had opened in little old Auckland earlier this year! 🙂 Great pics btw!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) March 21, 2017 — 2:29 pm

      Oh my gosh, so jealous that you have a Beard Papa in Auckland – I couldn’t believe it disappeared from London, though it’s perhaps not a bad thing as I reckon I’d have been there just about every day! 😀 The sakura soft serve was delicious, really summery, light and fragrant. I knew Japan was always going to be a foodie paradise for the savoury food but didn’t realise it would be equally delish for the sweet toothed! Can someone just transport us back there now please?!

  22. damn, they take their desserts seriously over there!!! I need to visit Japan.

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) May 17, 2017 — 2:09 pm

      Yeh Paul, people usually know Japan for all its delicious savoury foods so I wasn’t expecting to find such an array of delicious desserts there!

  23. Great list you have here!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) May 27, 2017 — 8:35 am

      Thank you! I really enjoyed the foodie scene out there, sweet & savoury!

  24. Everything looks soooooo tasty!!!! I love Japanese sweets! Also, if you are interested, I am also writing about Japan on my blog, feel free to check it out!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) July 9, 2017 — 11:55 pm

      I’m a huge fan of Japanese desserts too, though I guess that’s pretty obvious from this post!😀 Fascinated by so many aspects of what we saw in Japan so I’m looking forward to reading some of your discoveries on your blog!

  25. Love your humorous writing style! My boyfriend and I are anticipating going in the fall, and I cannot wait to try out the foods! Thanks for the recommendations.

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) July 9, 2017 — 11:58 pm

      Thank you so much for your lovely comment Jenn! I’m so glad you enjoyed the read and I’m so excited for you guys (and a bit jealous too!!)that you might be going in the fall. It is supposed to spectacular at that time of year & although spring was a glorious time to visit, we both felt that if we were ever lucky enough to go back one day, then we’d love to do so in the fall!

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