• Silvia Forte

The art of wagashi - Sawataya

wagashi autumn set

The Sawataya motto says "Pursue people's happiness through sweets and aim for coexistence and mutual prosperity."

Discover with us the happiness in this piece of food art!


1. Sawataya history

2. Kurodama

3. Seasonal Wagashi

4. Information on where I visited


1. Sawataya history
Sawataya staff in Taisho era

Sawataya has been selling sweets for generations in Isawa since the end of the Edo period. In 1890, suffering from the great flood damage of the Fuefuki River, the business continued in Kofu City.

Sawataya was the beginning of Tokuyoshi Hayakawa, a lady of the master Hayakawa Hanjiro, who opened a retail department in Sakuramachi (current location of the main store) and began manufacturing and retailing fresh confectionery (Japanese confectionery) in 1890.

The place was crowded with students from Yamanashi Technical High School (now Yamanashi University) and soldiers from 49 regiments, and every Saturday there was a concert where classic lovers gathered.

In addition, It was said that in Sawataya there was a restaurant and a dinner was held at Christmas to cook hundreds of turkeys.

However, with the development of the China incident and the progress of the Pacific War, the control of raw materials gradually expanded, making it difficult to continue business operations. The store was also destroyed by the air raid on July 6, 1945.

After the war, sales resumed in 1947, and sales gradually became active with the release of control of raw materials.

Sawataya was reorganized as a corporation in February 1964.

Toshio Tsukahara became the third representative director.

The shop of our days in kofu

In 1971, the head office was relocated to Mukaimachi (current location). With the new shop, a new beginning started. The shop tries to respond to changing customer tastes, realizing confectionery adapted to the same as "Gorfuman" and Western confectionery.

Based on the business of “Stores are for customers”, Sawataya is committed to making delicious sweets, focusing on handmade and raw materials, including traditional “Kurotama” that preserves the traditional taste.

Gorfuman, kurodama and pudding

2. Kurodama
kurodama, so perfect

Kurotama is an old-fashioned Japanese confectionery made from round bean paste and mutton.

Skilled craftsmen handmade one by one while ascertaining the state of the delicate sheep.

“Kurotama” is a sweet that can only be made by hand.

3. Seasonal Wagashi

First! Do you know what is wagashi?

Wagashi (和菓子) is a traditional Japanese sweet that is typically enjoyed in combination with a cup of green tea. They are made in a wide variety of shapes and consistencies and with diverse ingredients and preparation methods. Some are popular across the country and around the year while others are only available regionally or seasonally.

In my 3 months here I had different opportunities to taste the seasonal wagashi in Sawataya. You can relax or take time for yourself in their main shop in Kofu, choose from a menu with photos or ask the professional and kind staff what is their "osusume" (recommendation).

Even if the menu is all in Japanese, do not worry the staff is always ready to help you. Usually, the set will include a drink (coffee, tea, Japanese tea, orange juice). I tried different combinations and the most favorite was with tea.

with this kind of menu you understand what will you buy

I really enjoyed the time in this shop, I can relax and enjoy my time in a quiet place, surrounded by classic music and paintings.

time to relax

Learning a culture, for me, is also tasting it. Wagashi are like works of art not to be missed. In the autumn set, we can find references to the season, the momiji (maple leaf) that recall the changing of the leaves, the bunny from the tsukimi (see our previous article to discover what is tsukimi), the chrysanthemum blossom to remind a festival on September 9th) and at the end a salty biscuit that contrasts the sweetness of wagashi.

piece of art

Although Japanese sweets may not appeal to consistency or flavors that are not as strong as those in Europe, I cannot help but advise you to taste one of these culinary works.

4. Information on where I visited

・Place: 400-0813 375 Mukaimachi, Kofu, Yamanashi Prefecture

・Tel: 055-235-5545

・Admission: From Monday to Sunday 9:00 untile 19:00

・Website: http://www.kurodama.co.jp/

・Mail: info@kurodama.co.jp