Founded in 1931, 養老軒Yoroken is a small traditional Japanese sweets shop in the shopping arcade near 京福西院駅Keifuku Saiin Station. I used to work near 四条大宮Shijo Omiya and took the 嵐電Randen (another way of referring to the Keifuku Line) to commute, so I often walked or explored this area then…that’s how I discovered Yoroken. The front is pretty much all glass, letting passersby have a clear view of what was offered in the large display case inside, especially since the lighting seems brighter than most traditional Japanese sweets shops in Kyoto; I felt it was less intimidating to enter when I dropped in late June 2010.
Yoroken prides itself on providing Japanese sweets that represent the four seasons and original sweets to adapt to current times. Their most famous sweet is the 大福daifuku, a round Japanese sweet of a mochi (Japanese rice cake) filled with sweet bean paste, especially those filled with whole fruits like mikan orange and even tomato. Some of the daifuku have sweet bean paste with interesting flavors like ゆず七味yuzu-shichimi (citrus & seven-spice) or contain unusual ingredients like 柴漬けshibazuke, Kyoto-style pickles made with cucumbers, eggplants, etc. getting its color from shiso (perilla leaves) as well.
I was looking for 水無月minadzuki, a triangular Japanese sweet that is usually white and made from rice flour with 小豆adzuki (red beans) mixed in generously at the top that one eats at the end of June to end half a year and to begin the next, and to officially kick off summer; all Japanese sweets shops sell it during June, so of course they had some. I decided on a whim to pick up some sweets to give as 差し入れsashi-ire (usually an edible gift) to my co-workers the next day, especially because I couldn’t resist buying some of the lovely creations.
an array of 饅頭manjuu (similar to daifuku) too pretty to eat and ideal for forgetting the hot weather (well, at least a bit👅)…you can tell I really liked the hydrangea one and the bird one.☺
My boss and co-workers were delightedly surprised with the gift and it was a pleasure watching them gasp over the sweets as I had when I was choosing them…Yoroken sweets are definitely a treat for the eyes as well as the palate.☺