Japanese Desserts and Cakes

Want to try some Japanese desserts and cakes? Here’s a list of traditional desserts in Japan that you can make at home or taste while visiting.


Let’s start with a real classic of Japanese desserts. Mochi is available all over the country, and it’s one of the most iconic desserts from Japan that should definitely try while visiting. 

A Mochi is essentially a sweet rice cake that is shaped into balls, which can be either dipped in sauce or toasted. Additionally Mochi Ice cream is a popular treat where the sweet Mochi dough is filled with ice cream.

traditional japanese dessert mochi
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Dorayaki is another classic dessert in Japan, and it’s basically two pancakes that are put together as a sandwich, and filled with Anko. Additionally, you can also fill the Dorayaki pancakes with fillings such as ice cream, cream, or chestnut paste.

If you’ve seen the Doraemon anime character, you might have noticed that the Dorayaki is his favorite food.

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There is no standard recipe for Anmitsu, and various ingredients can be used in the assortment, which is typically served in a cup. It’s a popular dessert in Japan during the summer, and the main ingredients which are always included are Anko and Agar Jelly. 

Some additional ingredients could be mochi, chestnuts, fruits, and black syrup. Another version of this dessert is known as Cream Anmitsu, which is served with ice cream.

Anmitsu dessert in Japan
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If you want to try a local favorite, you should order some Kakigori, which is basically shaved ice with some sweet syrup. It’s available in various flavors. Kakigori is especially popular during the warm summer months, and there are even specialized shops that only sell Kakigori. 

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Taiyaki or Japanese fish cake is another popular dessert in Japan, which is typically sold in specialized Taiyaki stalls in food markets. These cakes are shaped like a fish and have a filling made of Anko. 

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Namagashi is a sweet snack that is featured in a specific category of traditional desserts in Japan, also known as Wagashi, which are desserts that are elegant enough to accompany a tea ceremony. 

The Namagashi dessert often comes in the motif of a flower or leaves which represents the four seasons of Japan. It’s often made of fruit jellies or sweet bean paste. 

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Imagawayaki is often served at festivals in Japan, and they are made of batter that is filled with azuki bean paste. They are also known as Obanyaki in the Kansai region and are quite similar to the Dorayaki.

The Imagawayaki has origins from the Edo period and is one of the most common Japanese desserts. It can also have other fillings than bean paste, such as vanilla custard. 

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Matcha cake roll

Matcha is very typical in Japan and there are all things made with matcha flavor these days. The Matcha cake roll is perhaps one of the most classic versions of Japanese spongecakes. 

Matcha cake roll
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Daifuku is similar to the mochi where the main difference is the sweet filling. It can be made with a wide range of fillings, but the most common ones are azuki bean paste, chestnut or some fruit. 

Popular dessert in Japan
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Purin (Japanese pudding)

This Japanese dessert is quite similar to the Spanish dessert known as flan, and it’s easy to make at home. Purin is basically a custard pudding with caramel sauce, and it’s very popular among the locals.

It’s available across the whole country and can be found in supermarkets as well as restaurants. 

Japanese Pudding
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Last but not least, the Dango, which is one of the most beloved Japanese desserts. It’s basically a rice ball on a stick, which is toasted or grilled over an open fire. They are typically dipped in a sweet sauce and has a chewy texture.

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More about Japanese desserts

The traditional desserts in Japan are served at tea time and are known as Wagashi, which have been made to perfection for centuries. Besides wagashi, custard pudding is very popular across the whole country, and it’s a local favorite. 

Ice cream and pancake styled cakes are also commonly eaten in Japan. Compared to Western-styled desserts, you won’t find many similarities with Japanese desserts.

Other typical desserts from Japan:

  • Crepes
  • Higashi
  • Castella
  • Manju
  • Shiruko
  • Sakuramochi
  • Yokan
  • Hanabiramochi

What is the best Japanese dessert?

In my opinion, the Japanese desserts are far too exquisite and versatile to just pick one as the ultimate winner as the best Japanese dessert. However, I would say that every traveler should taste Mochi since it’s a very traditional dessert in Japan. 

Additionally, matcha ice cream or various types of matcha cakes are also very common and popular across the country.

Best japanese desserts
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Do Japanese eat sweets?

Japanese desserts are typically served at tea time, and not after meals like in most Western countries. Japanese people do enjoy their sweets, but if you visit a local restaurant, it will likely have a very limited selection of Japanese desserts. 

However, it’s very easy to find sweets in local bakeries or supermarkets. 

What is your favorite dessert from Japan? Leave a comment below!

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