Imagawa-yaki and Taiyaki are sweets in which the batter, made from flour, eggs and sugar water, is poured into a mold and baked. There is also a sweet filling in the middle that comes in a variety of flavors, including red bean paste, custard cream and chocolate.
Imagawa-yaki is a disk-shaped baked sweet about 3 cm (1.2 inches) thick. The name draws its origins from the story of a shop near Imagawa Bridge in Tokyo that started selling it. It is also called “Oban-yaki” and “Kaiten-yaki” in some areas of Japan. Taiyaki and Ningyo-yaki are made from the same ingredients as Imagawa-yaki but are shaped differently. Taiyaki, meaning “baked sea bream”, are shaped like their namesake, a fish considered to bring good luck in Japan. Ningyo-yaki are baked in the shapes of dolls and animals.
Nowadays, there are many Ningyo-yaki in the shapes of characters and mascots. You can purchase Ningyo-yaki shaped like Doraemon or Hello Kitty at main airports, including Narita Airport, Haneda Airport and Chubu Centrair International Airport, as well as souvenir shops at popular tourist attractions in Tokyo.
“Pekochanyaki”, sold by a long-established sweet shop FUJIYA in Iidabashi, Tokyo, are also popular. Some Ningyo-yaki are only available in limited areas, so it will be fun to find some of these when you travel.
Fujiya Iidabashi shop (Pekochanyaki)
1-12 Kagurazaka, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo
Directions: 2 min walk from JR Iidabashi Station, near the exit B3 of Iidabashi Subway Station
These baked sweets are best eaten fresh, but you can also purchase them in sweets shops and stalls at festivals all across Japan. If you wish to take some back with you, it would be best to choose ones that do not expire anytime soon at souvenir and airport shops.