Kyoto is not only renowned for its extensive preservation of historic streets, temples, teahouses and more, but also its artistic and culinary reputation. With centuries-long tradition and an unwavering commitment to precision, wagashi-making is a remarkable culinary art form that transcends mere confectionery; it’s a journey into the heart and soul of Japanese culture. To enrich your journey through Japan’s ancient capital why not experience making wagashi, traditional confectionary made with mochi, red bean paste and fruit? The experience will take you on a journey that celebrates the ancient traditions and modern innovations of this delectable art. By staying at The Millennials Kyoto, you will be within 20 minute access by subway or bus from Kanshundo East Store, where you can try the hands-on experience of making wagashi.
Kanshundo East Store is located in a classic machiya, an iconic architectural style found in downtown Kyoto for centuries. The shop has been in business for 150 years.
The wagashi-making experience is guided by long-established craftsmen and you will use the tools used by professionals. You will make confectionary in four flavors: raw sugar, uiro, nerikiri and kinton, which are all eaten at tea ceremonies. The sweets change every season. You can make plum blossoms during the New Year, cherry blossoms in spring, water in summer, autumn leaves in the fall and snow in winter. If you come in spring then in autumn, you will find yourself making completely different sweets.
After entering the shop, you can look at the various colorful and intricately-designed wagashi. Since it was October, they even had Halloween-themed wagashi.
Here are some more classic examples of seasonal wagashi. You can see details of gingko and maple leaves on the wagashi. It’s a great gift to take home, since the wagashi made in the lesson must be eaten within one day of making it.
If you come early, you can rest in this area, where there is free tea and water. The wagashi-making experience is on the second floor of the shop.
When you arrive upstairs, you can drop off your bags on storage shelves in the back then wash your hands. At the table, they have already set up all the tools you need. Before you begin making wagashi, the instructor explains step-by-step what the process will entail for each piece of wagashi. There is even a camera zoomed in on the instructor’s table so you can see up close how he molds the wagashi.
At the end, we made four wagashi following the theme of autumn (the fourth one is seen in the photo below). They had different fillings inside, but all were delicious and fun to admire.
You will receive a box to place your wagashi inside so you can take them with you and eat them later if you don’t want to eat them on the spot. Since there is no space in the box for the last wagashi, you will be asked to eat that one before you leave.
You can put your box inside this bag that you receive, making it a nice way to remember your experience. Since wagashi is normally eaten alongside green tea, you will get a nice, traditional brew of green tea.
At the end of the experience, the instructor made a cat. We played rock, paper, scissors to decide who would get the cat and the other wagashi he made while instructing us during the lesson.
It is quite easy to make a booking online and the experience comes with an instruction sheet in English, although if you simply copy what the instructor does, then you should have no problems following along. The whole experience took about one hour, making it a great activity to fit into your itinerary if you want a cultural experience in the ancient town of Kyoto. If you stay at The Millennials Kyoto, you will have easy access to this centuries-old shop and their one-of-a-kind wagashi-making experience.
Click the button below to book your stay at The Millennials Kyoto.