Sweets from the North: Four Tōhoku Confectioners Balancing Tradition and Innovation

sweets from the north four tohoku confectioners balancing tradition and innovation

The Tōhoku region in Japan’s northeast is home to a variety of confectioners carrying on traditional techniques even as they adapt to modern trends. Here we present four innovative sweet shops who are creating delights for the eyes as well as the palate.

Aizu Nagatoya, a sweets maker in the city of Aizuwakamatsu in Fukushima Prefecture, first opened its doors in 1848. In those days, jōgashi, refined sweets made with white sugar, were enjoyed only by the upper classes. The story goes, though, that the lord of the prominent Aizu domain longed to bring confections to commoners in the province. Inspired by the daimyō’s aspirations, a local sake brewer took up the confectionery arts and opened Nagatoya. Early on, the shop primarily made inexpensive confections from waste rice, millet, or beans sweetened with an unrefined dark sugar called kokutō, glutenous mochi rice, or sweet potato starch. Today, Nagatoya continues this tradition of making reasonably priced treats for locals.

Nagatoya’s Nanokamachi shop has an old fashioned exterior. (© Aizu Nagatoya)

Over the years, Nagatoya expanded its selection to include more substantial fare like snack breads, but remained focused on traditional, hand-made treats, adapting these to reflect modern tastes…

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