Tokyo Hunts : Ogikubo Harunaya Traditional Sweets

I mentioned in the Harukiya Ramen post that we ended up in the Ogikubo district to look for this one shop selling orthopedic shoes. The thing about Tokyo is that there are so many wonderful culinary (and artistic) offerings scattered all over the city, that it is impossible not to make quick stops at certain shops if you are in the neighborhood. And this is why we walk a lot. And that is why Ike ended up with a hurt toe, which is why we came to Ogikubo in need of orthopedic shoes. And that is why we ended up piling on calories in Ogikubo… BUT ANYWAYS…

After the savory bowl of delicious, traditional Harukiya Ramen hit the spot, I had a sweet craving to fulfill. In Japan, there are amazing, French influenced confectioneries and chocolatiers but in a neighborhood like Ogikubo, one can find traditional shops selling authentic Japanese products for decades. So of course, I had to search for Wagashi 和菓子.

Wagashi (和菓子 wa-gashi?) is a traditional Japanese confectionery which is often served with tea, especially the types made of mochi, anko (azuki bean paste), and fruits. Wagashi is typically made from plant ingredients

– Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wagashi

I ran around with Googlemaps before stopping in my tracks at the sight of Harunaya 榛名屋, standing out in all its glory along Kyokai-dori shopping street, full of novel little shops. Standing in front of the shop, I felt transported back in time. There is something about this shop, perhaps because it has been here for over 3 decades and still functioning the same way, offering amazing traditional wagashi. Everything looked shiny to me – from the signage 和菓子屋の「榛名屋」to the pretty, perfect little treats, basking in the lighting of their glass display case.
FullSizeRender(3)Harunaya Wagashi

I saw the noren (Japanese fabric dividers, curtains) move. An elderly lady popped out from inside of the shop and greeted us kindly. I felt very shy, like a child again in front of a candyshop and I didnt know why. She beckoned me to come closer.
FullSizeRender(5)

I asked the elderly lady for her recommendation.
“Everything!” she said, then laughed heartily like she had been waiting to say that all day.
I laughed politely along, impressed by her vigor, but Aunty …. not helpful!
She composed herself, then informed me that their shop was known for its bean paste products.
I knew that wagashi usually do not keep for very long and is best eaten fresh, so I tried to limit the number of things I bought – unsuccessfully!

IMG_5716Bought more than I can eat in 2 days

Daifuku, Dango, Momo Mochi (peach mochi) and Warabi Mochi (not pictured)
The mochis were all light and fluffy, not overly sticky or heavy so one does not feel too full. Their anko was quite thick and not too sweet. There was an authentic, natural tastes to their confections that I crave and appreciate. None of that artificial aftertaste that comes with manufactured products. Although I am not Japanese, every bite was pretty nostalgic. It tastes like how rice treats used to taste.

I did not get to sample all the treats, but we did pick up a couple of savory Onigiri (riceballs stuffed with filling) for dinner that evening. Everything was reasonably priced at 100-300 yen.
IMG_5709

Address : 〒167-0032 東京都杉並区天沼3-6-22
TEL : (03)3398-5347
Opening hours : Weekdays 8:00 – 19:00, Saturdays and Public Holidays 8:00 – 18:00 Closed Sunday

If you are in the area and this alone does not satisfy your sweet cravings, head off to L’abeille, just a few meters round the corner. This is a honey specialty shop. We went in to sample a good variety of honey, but had no tummy space to head to their cafe upstairs for their very popular honey roll cake. There are lots of other honey products in the shop, including honey chocolates.
FullSizeRender(4)Honey specialty shop

Now about those shoes. Yeps, they were not forgotten :
UntitledKool Kicks

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