10 Must Try Desserts in Japan

Food & Drinks
Writer's Profile
Writer’s Profile

Bryce was born in California, but raised from the age of 3 near Seattle, Washington. He’s been living in Tokyo for about 7 years, and graduated from Temple University, Japan with degrees in economics and international business. He loves traveling of course, but also cooking, snowboarding, some video games as well. His biggest interest is songwriting/music production, more specifically electronic music… (think Skrillex, Marshmello, Daft Punk, etc.) He also has terrible humor as you’ll notice, but he hopes you’ll enjoy it!

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Japan isn’t just a feast for the eyes; it’s a paradise for your taste buds. Nobody is safe from the temptation that ensues while wandering the streets of Japan, and yes, you guys with sweet tooths (sweet… “teeth”…? That sounds weird) are particularly susceptible. Bonus points if you’re weak for cute stuff. Join us as we explore the top must-try desserts that encapsulate the essence of Japanese culinary artistry. From traditional delights to contemporary fusions, Japan’s sweet scene has something for every palate. Let’s dive into the delightful world of Matcha Ice-Cream, Manju, Taiyaki, Mochi, and Dango – each a delectable piece of Japan’s rich food culture.

1. Matcha Ice-Cream

matcha Ice cream

Indulge in a velvety symphony of flavors with Matcha Ice-Cream, where Japan’s famed powdered green tea meets creamy perfection. This iconic dessert marries the bitter notes of Matcha with the sweet embrace of dairy, creating a harmony that lingers on your taste buds. Savor a cone against the backdrop of Kyoto‘s historic temples or on the bustling streets of Tokyo. Matcha Ice-Cream isn’t just a dessert; it’s a Matcha-made in heaven experience that captures the essence of Japanese tea culture.

2. Manju

Dive into the world of Manju, delightful little parcels of joy that encapsulate centuries of tradition. These sweet dumplings, often filled with red bean paste, showcase the meticulous craftsmanship of Japanese confectioners. Whether in the ancient streets of Nara or the modern alleys of Osaka, Manju serves as a portable piece of Japan’s culinary heritage. Each bite tells a story, a tale of flavors that transcend time, making Manju a must-try dessert for anyone seeking a taste of Japan’s rich cultural tapestry.

3. Taiyaki


Taiyaki, the whimsical fish-shaped pastries, are a delightful fusion of tradition and innovation. Stuffed with a variety of fillings, from sweet red bean paste to custard or even chocolate, these crispy delights have captured the hearts of locals and visitors alike. Enjoy Taiyaki fresh off the grill at street vendors in Tokyo, a great place to do this is Yanaka Ginza (theres also Dorayaki). It’s a dessert that not only satisfies your sweet cravings but also adds a touch of playfulness to your Japanese culinary adventure.

4. Mochi

Pounding MochI

Enter the world of Mochi, where simplicity meets sublime texture. These chewy rice cakes, often filled with sweetened red bean paste or ice cream, are a beloved treat across Japan. Mochi transcends seasons – relish it during cherry blossom season or as a cool summer delight. Mochi is used in various ways in savory food as well; be ready to see it all over. It’s a textural masterpiece that’s sure to leave a lasting impression.

5. Dango

Dango, the elegant skewered dumplings, are a visually memorable and tasty treat to enjoy along with other street foods. Made from rice flour and often served in a trio on a stick, Dango embodies the simplicity and charm of Japanese desserts. Each ball offers a different flavor profile – sweet soy sauce, red bean paste, and a dusting of powdered soybean flour. Enjoy Dango during traditional festivals or in the serene gardens of Kyoto. It’s a dessert that brings together taste, texture, and tradition in perfect harmony, creating a memorable experience for your palate.

6. Anmitsu

Anmitsu, a true masterpiece in a bowl, beautifully showcases the artistry of Japanese desserts. This chilled delight consists of agar jelly cubes, sweet red bean paste, and a variety of fruits, which may sometimes be drizzled with a generous serving of Kuromitsu (brown sugar syrup). Often served with a side of vanilla ice cream, Anmitsu strikes a perfect balance between textures and flavors it’s a great way to enjoy the summer heat, as well as have something tasty and relatively healthy. Generally speaking, this is a plant based dish making it a great vegan option.

7. Wagashi

Wagashi, or traditional Japanese confectionery, is a testament to the country’s dedication to edible art. Crafted with precision, Wagashi comes in various shapes and colors, often reflecting the seasons. These delicacies, typically made with ingredients like sweet bean paste and Mochi, are enjoyed during tea ceremonies or as delightful gifts. Wagashi isn’t just a dessert; it’s an art form. A common way to enjoy Wagashi is with Matcha; it’s a great, subtle complement to the bitterness of the Matcha tea. Be sure to admire the careful preparation of the Wagashi, it’s an incredible example of the meticulous style that prevails throughout Japan’s artforms and more.

8. Crepes

While originally from France, Japanese crepes have taken on a unique twist, offering a delightful blend of Western and Japanese flavors. Stroll through Harajuku‘s Takeshita Street, a place known for fashion and trendy experience, for the epitome of Kawaii culture that has of course reigned supreme over the crepe scene. From Matcha-infused whipped cream to fresh fruits and ice cream, these paper-thin delights are a celebration of creativity and flavor. Japanese crepes are the perfect street food companion as you explore the dynamic urban landscapes, adding a touch of international flair to your culinary journey.

9. Fruit Sando

Fruit Sando (sando meaning sandwich), a deceptively simple dessert, elevates the art of enjoying fruit to new heights. This delightful sandwich layers seasonal fruits between pillowy soft white bread, creating a refreshing and satisfying treat. Ideal for a quick snack or a light dessert, Fruit Sando is a favorite across Japan, from trendy cafes to the prolific Konbinis. The harmony of textures and natural sweetness makes it a must-try, embodying Japan’s philosophy of finding joy in simplicity and nature’s bounty.

10. Kakigori


Cool off with Kakigori, Japan’s answer to shaved ice extravagance. This dessert takes a simple concept – shaved ice – and transforms it into a work of culinary art. Topped with vibrant syrups, condensed milk, and an array of toppings like Mochi or sweet red beans, Kakigori is the perfect antidote to Japan’s warm (incredibly hot and humid) summers. Experience this frozen delight at summer festivals or specialty shops, and let the refreshing flavors transport you to a world where every spoonful is a celebration of the season.

Japan Wonder Travel Food Tours 

Japan Wonder Travel is a travel agency that offers guided tours throughout Japan. 
From private walking tours to delicious Food and Drink tours, we can help organize the best tours just for you! If you want to explore Japan and learn more about the history and backstories of each area you are traveling in, our knowledgeable and friendly guides will happily take you to the best spots! 
In addition, we can provide you with any assistance you may need for your upcoming trip to Japan, so please feel free to contact us if you have any questions or need some help! 

Tokyo Tsukiji Fish Market Food and Drink Tour
Explore the most lively and popular fish market in Tokyo where you will have the chance to try some of the local’s favorite street foods and sake along with your friendly English speaking guide! 

tsukiji tour

Shinjuku Bar Hopping Tour: Experience Tokyo’s Nightlife in Izakaya
Check out the best spots in Shinjuku while bar hopping through the lively and vibrant area. Try some delicious local food and drink as you explore the narrow yet photogenic alleys that the town has to offer. Experience Japanese izakaya culture and drink in Shinjuku like the locals!


Explore Nishiki Market: Food & Culture Walk
If you’re looking to learn more about the culture and the local cuisine of Kyoto, this is the perfect tour for you! Take part in this Kyoto food and drink tour and explore the 400-year-old market and the surrounding areas.

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