Our Favorite Japanese Summer Treats

by Dallas Ernst

Though there are quite a few ways to beat summer heat, indulging in a refreshing snack isn’t a bad way to go. Check out this list of our favorite Japanese sweet treats to enjoy during summer.

matcha flavor kakigori topped with dango and red bean paste

Kakigōri is a shaved ice dessert that’s sweetened with colorful syrups and condensed or evaporated milk. Kakigōri has been enjoyed in Japan since the Heian period (794 to 1184), when a hand crank machine was used to shave blocks of ice saved from colder months.

Today, kakigōri day is celebrated in Japan on July 25. Street vendors also sell kakigōri during festivals, but this treat can be found all over Japan in the summer, in coffee shops, convenience stores, and restaurants.

Made from a smooth, fluffy ice, kakigōri is typically eaten with a spoon and flavorful toppings. Popular flavors feature fruits like cherry, grape, lemon, and melon as well as green tea and mixes of different flavors.

Akai Ribon's sake jelly
Sake Jelly

Sake is an alcoholic drink made by fermenting rice. Also called Japanese rice wine, sake can be flavored with different fruits, like apple, lychee, peach and plum.

Similarly, sake-infused jellies come in different flavors, ranging from crisp and fresh, to floral and sweet based on the sake used. We like Akai Ribon’s sake jelly in the summer because it can be enjoyed as is or chilled, making it extra enjoyable on a hot day.

warabi mochi coated in kinako

Warabimochi are jelly-like Japanese confections that are traditionally coated in a toasted soybean flour, also called “kinako,” that adds a sweet, nutty flavor. Warabimochi coatings can vary in flavor, depending on the region, and they are sometimes topped with a brown sugar syrup called “kuromitsu.”

While regular mochi are made from glutinous rice, warabimochi are made from bracken or warabi starch. These chewy, chilled treats are very popular in Japan during summer and are sold from food trucks throughout the season.

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Anmitsu filled with dango, ice cream, fruit, anko and agar jelly and served with black syrup

Anmitsu is a traditional Japanese dessert that can be traced back to the Meiji era (1868 to 1912). The dessert consists of cubes of agar jelly, which are made using water and/or different fruit juices.

Anmitsu is typically served in a bowl, with toppings like slices of fruit and sweet red bean paste, also called “anko,” adding pops of color and flavor. The dessert is also served with a sweet black syrup, kuromitsu,(the -mitsu in anmitsu) that’s poured over the treat just before you enjoy it.

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Mochi ice cream
Mochi Ice Cream

Mochi ice cream is a popular snack dessert that has grown in popularity around the globe. Debuting in the early 1980s, this frozen treat gave a new spin on traditional Japanese mochi made from pounded rice.

These mochi are filled with different kinds of ice cream. Classic flavors include chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla while flavors like coffee, matcha, and plum wine are also popular. Mochi ice cream is perfect for the summer. They’re fun to eat, and there’s truly a flavor for everyone.

Whether you prefer your summertime snack slightly chilled or completely frozen, there’s definitely a tasty Japanese treat that can help you cool down this season.

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