If you’re looking for where locals go for Japanese sweets (Wagashi), this is a comprehensive list of where you will find the best Japanese sweets in Kamakura. Fortunately in Kamakura there are endless options to select from. The below list comprises all my favourite places where I tried the tasty delights several times.
1. Mikazukido Kasen
Undeniably one of my favourite Japanese wagashi or nama-gashi shops in Kamakura to pass the time is Mikazukido Kase, near Kita-Kamakura Station. Nama-gashi, Japanese fresh sweets, come in many kinds. Every Japanese shop serves seasonal sweets or even monthly ones. Each Japanese confectionery craftsperson expresses Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter seasons with sweet beans. Honestly speaking, the taste of each nama-gashi is almost the same for me, however its shape and tone of colors are full of varieties.
2. Nishikamakura Chanoko
I have taken a nama-gashi lesson by Chanoko, and I found the process of nama-gashi so creative. The class I joined was ¥5,000 for a one and a half hour nama-gashi lesson at Ichijo Ekan Sanso. This seemed a fair price to pay for viewing the beautiful Japanese Garden of Ichijo Ekan Sanso. The process of making nama-gashi is long and very particular, forcing you to stay out of warm areas to protect spoilable ingredients and to stand up while creating delicate shapes. The various tools are also made by hand, often involving wooden spatula and chopsticks. The Nama-gashi patissier told us you can appreciate nama-gashi fully with your five senses of taste, sight, touch, smell and even hearing. Each nama-gashi has its own name and when you hear the name of nama-gashi, you can immediately understand the coming of seasons.
3. Fu-manju at Fuhan
Fu-manju is a raw wheat-gluten bun with sweet red beans. This slippery and chewy sweet has a scent of the sea, because green seaweed is mixed in before wrapping with bamboo grass. The wheat gluten products were introduced by monks in China for their vegetarian diets. Fuhan, located near Kamakura Bungakukan, is serving very fresh fu-manju and I’m going to make a bold statement: Fuhan has the best fu-manju in Kamakura. Despite that you may have found equally good fu-manju in Kyoto, Fuhan will be your first choice of fu-manju shop in Kamakura.
4. Warabi mochi at Kosuzu
My favorite Japanese sweet is Warabi mochi made by warabi (bracken)-starch mochi. The process of extracting starch from warabi, a type of fern, used to be back breakingly hard work. It’s amazing that some ancestors decided to eat the roots of plants and created jelly-like and sticky cake made from that. Kosuzu serves refreshing tender Warabi mochi at their cozy Japanese style cafe.
5. Sazae rice at Hanagokoro
And of course this list would not be complete without mention of one of my favorite rice snacks; sazae (Turban shell) rice served at Hanagokoro. Although not a sweets shop, Hanagokoro offers well balanced sazae mixed rice and some of the prettiest packages to make a great souvenir.