187-year-old Kyoto tea maker creates edible works of seasonal art.

Japan’s seasons are especially distinct, and Japanese culture has always enthusiastically savored the transition from one to another. One way it does that is by viewing flowers in the country’s parks and gardens, with the famous sakura cherry blossoms of April followed by wisteria and Nemophila/baby blue eyes of mid-to-late spring.

Next on the blossoming calendar are the hydrangeas, which open as the rainy season starts in June, and tea maker/confectioner Itokyuemon is marking their arrival with another way Japan loves to celebrate the changing of the seasons: seasonal sweets.

Itokyuemon’s main branch and cafe is located in Uji, the Kyoto town which produces Japan’s highest-quality matcha green tea. Also in Uji is Mimurotoji Temple, one of Kyoto’s most beautiful hydrangea-viewing spots, and the inspiration for the Hydrangea Parfait (or Ajisai Parfait, if you’re ordering it by the flower’s Japanese name).

The most visually striking part of the 1,180-yen (US$10.80) parfait is the delicate lavender and sky blue confectionaries, which are kinton, a firm paste made from sweet potato and sweetened chestnuts. You also get matcha cookies shaped like the leaves of a hydrangea plant, gelatin, matcha ice cream, kanten (agar), and matcha syrup at the very bottom.

If you’re not feeling quite that hungry, you can opt for the Hydrangea Panna Cotta (540 yen), with gorgeous lemon gelatin topping a cup of creamy matcha pudding.

And last, if you want that beautiful kinton without the ice cream, Itokyuemon also has Hydrangea Kinton matcha sweet bean paste dumplings (three for 777 yen), which are being sold to-go both at Itokyuemon main store in Uji as well as its souvenir shops at JR Kyoto Station and Uji Station.

The Hydrngea Parfait is on sale now, and the Hydrangea Panna Cotta joins the menu June 1, and will be offered until early July.

Cafe information
Itokyuemon (main branch) / 伊藤久右衛門(本店)
Address: Kyoto-fu, Uji-shi, Todoaramachi 19-3
Open 10 a.m.-6:30 p.m.

Sources: Itokyuemon, @Press
Top image: @Press
Insert images: Itokyuemon, @Press
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