5 Traditional Japanese Sweets with “Anko” Sweet Red Bean Paste

Beans are a crucial ingredient in Japanese cuisine. For example, the 2 seasonings that represent Japan, miso and soy sauce are made from soy beans, and when it comes to Japanese confections, “Anko (餡子)“, or sweetened red bean paste is an essential ingredient for Wagashi sweets.

As for the latter, the sweet red bean paste, Anko are roughly divided into two types, smooth bean paste called “Koshian (こしあん)” and chunky, coarse bean paste called “Tsubuan (つぶあん)”, and both are used in various sweets in Japan.

There are many varieties of Japanese confections made with Anko sweet red bean paste. Out of those, today I will introduce 5 especially famous traditional sweets.

Yokan (羊羹)

Yokan Sweet Red Bean Paste Jelly Yokan Sweet Bean Paste Jelly, 5 Flavors

Yokan (羊羹) is a traditional Japanese confection with several hundred years of history. It is generally made by jellying smooth, sweet red bean paste using Japanese agar “Kanten (寒天)”. There are broadly 4 types in Yokan, and the most common type is “Neri Yokan (練り羊羹)”, like the above product. Neri Yokan has a firm, smooth texture and features gentle sweetness of Anko.

Dorayaki (どら焼き)

Dorayaki Shirakiku Tsubuan Dorayaki 

Dorayaki (どら焼き) is a traditional Japanese sweet well-known as Doraemon’s yummy buns. The confection consists of two baked pancakes with sweet red bean paste in the middle. The dough of the pancakes is made with honey, so the cake is somewhat moist.

Oshiruko (おしるこ)

Oshiruko Sweet Red Bean Soup Freeze-dry Oshiruko Instant Sweet Red Bean Soup

Oshiruko (おしるこ) is a traditional Japanese sweet red bean soup. Oshiruko is a simple soup dish made by simmering Azuki red beans in water sweetened with sugar. It is often served with “Mochi (餅)” sticky plain glutinous rice cake, and widely enjoyed in the winter season.

Manju (饅頭)

Manju Steamed Cake Manju Steamed Cake, 5 Flavors

Manju (饅頭) is a traditional Japanese steamed bun that is filled with sweet red bean paste. Manju comes in many types and flavors, and the most common type is “Cha Manju (茶饅頭)”. The bun of Cha Manju is made with wheat flour, brown sugar, and baking soda. It is soft and fluffy and matches perfectly with its Anko filling.

Daifuku (大福)

Ichigo Daifuku Daifuku Mochi Rice Cake with Sweet Red Beans

Daifuku (大福) is a traditional Japanese “Mochigashi (餅菓子)“. It is a soft, round white rice cake with a sweet red bean paste filling. Daifuku is available in many types in Japan, from traditional to modern. Among those, the most popular type is “Ichigo Daifuku (苺大福)”, the Daifuku mochi with a strawberry and Anko filling.


Hi, I'm Tomo, a Japanese blogger living in Niigata Prefecture, Japan. For the purpose of enriching your life, I would like to introduce things about Japan on this blog, especially unique Japanese products, cooking recipes, cultures, and facts and trivia.

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