Asakusa, one of the most popular tourist areas in Tokyo, boasts many kinds of small shops and stands that offer small snacks and sweets throughout the area. Visiting sights there will surely be better if combined with sampling local food, but with so many options, how to chose? Here are the four must-eats in Asakusa for satiating your sweet tooth.

asakusa sweets
Photo by Ann Hung used under CC

Ningyo-yaki, a godly good treat

Traditional sweets, of course, taste better in traditional surroundings! Ningyo-yaki, a tiny sponge cake in various shape, are one of the most traditional sweets in Tokyo. Most of them come with sweet bean paste or sometimes custard or chocolate filling inside. They are typically made in the shape of the auspicious Seven Gods of Fortune, but you can also find modern characters like Hello Kitty or landmarks like Sensoji’s five-story pagoda. Among the numerous ningyo-yaki stands in Asakusa, Kimuraya Ningyo-yaki Honpo conveniently located in Nakamise Street boasts both fame and high quality since its establishment in 1867—and the ningyo-yaki here are the perfect option if you’re on the way to Sensoji Temple.

Melon pan on display
Photo by Gregory Lane

Melonpan! No, it ain’t a melon…

Melonpan, a thick bread covered with a thin layer of crispy biscuit dough, is already a popular food among travelers in Japan. However, ones at Kagetsudo are recommended even for melonpan connoisseurs. Established in 1945 as a Japanese confectionery maker, they have been striving for higher quality with their uncompromising passion. Their melonpan is fermented for a good three hours, three times longer than average melonpan, to create extraordinarily fluffy and delicate texture. Conveniently located near Senso-ji Temple and Kaminarimon gate, they sell more than 2000 melonpan on weekends—so be prepared for long lines, but it’s oh so worth it!

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Sweet, sweet, sweet potato

If you come to Asakusa to enjoy the autumnal foliage, sweet potato yokan (paste bar) at Funawa is a seasonal treat you’ll want to taste. Established in 1902 in Asakusa, it has developed into a nationwide franchise renowned for their delicate sweet potato yokan. With no food coloring, preservative or flavor added, their subtle and natural sweet potato yokan will offer you a blissful culinary experience. In addition, they have some other delicious Japanese traditional sweets on offer such as colorful paste balls of 6 different flavors and anmitsu, a bowl of agar jelly, bean paste and various fruits accompanied by sweet syrup—you know, in case potato-based sweets are not your thing.

The richest matcha gelato

Hand holding matcha ice cream with a spoon in it
Very, very matcha | Photo by Gregory Lane

Being a bit bored of consuming traditional flavors, green tea gelato offered by Suzukien offers a delightful change of taste. Last year they launched the “richest matcha green tea gelato” together with their partner Nanaya, a matcha gelato producer based in Shizuoka prefecture, where much high-quality green tea is made. You can select the richness of matcha on the scale of 1 to 7, with 7 claimed to be the richest in the world. No.7 is made with a premium matcha green tea that has been awarded by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of Japan, leaving no doubt surrounding its quality. Various tea-related products and tea leaves are also on offer, so green tea enthusiasts might find themselves heading straight there forgetting everything else in Asakusa!

Asakusa is not just a place for a sightseeing, and it indeed has very many options when it comes to snacking at a reasonable price. If you happen to visit Tokyo mainly to enjoy local food, let alone visiting sights, Asakusa is definitely an area for you.

Looking for more info? Here are 10 free and cheap things to do in Asakusa, including sweet treats.

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Filed under: Sweets
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