They are white, green, brown or pink and in the shape of a cube: Uiro
Traditional Japanese sweets made from rice flour, sugar, water, and other ingredients.
In this post, I am going to tell you all about Uiro, what it is, and where to buy it in Nagoya.
What is Uiro?
Uiro is a traditional Japanese steamed cake in a rectangular shape. It is made from the same basic ingredients as Mochi: rice flour, sugar, and water.
But while Mochi is made by pounding the mixture to develop its characteristic sticky texture, Uiro is poured into a mold and steamed.
This gives the Uiro a pleasantly chewy texture.
The basic ingredients are often mixed with other flavors to create different variations of Uiro. There is white and brown sugar, but also red bean, matcha green tea powder, Sakura cherry blossom, chestnut, strawberries, and Yuzu, a kind of lemon.
It isn’t really known where Uiro or even the name Uiro came from. It is often believed it came from medicine which was called Uiro in the Muromachi Period (1336 – 1573). The medicine was bitter and so people would eat a sweet afterward to get rid of the taste. Eventually, instead of referring to the medicine as Uiro the sweet was referred to as Uiro.
In Nagoya, it is said that Uiro has been produced since the Edo Period (1603 – 1868) and that with the founding of Aoyagi Uiro in 1879 the recognition of Nagoya Uiro expanded nationwide.
Nagoya is not the only city famous for producing delicious Uiro. Other places you should visit if you love Uiro are Yamaguchi, Odawara, Kyoto, and Ise.
Where to Try Uiro in Nagoya?
There are multiple producers of Uiro in Nagoya, the most famous are Aoyagi Uiro, Mochibun Uiro, and Osu Uiro.
Lesser known but similarly delicious is Suzume Odori Uiro.
You can get all of these Uiro conveniently at one place, at the different Gift Kiosk inside Nagoya Station where a wide selection of Nagoya Uiro is sold as a souvenir to travelers.
Nagoya Food Tour
Unfortunately, Uiro is not a food we try during the Nagoya Meshi Food Tour. Because we simply cannot try everything.
However, if you book a private food tour with me I am happy to include it. These tours are completely customizable to fit your wishes and needs.
Aoyagi Souhonke has been producing Uiro and other traditional Japanese sweets for 140 years.
They were the first to sell bite-sized Uiro and in recent years even developed an Uiro for athletes with added salt which is very popular at triathlons in Japan.
At Aoyagi Sohonke you can also buy Kaeru Manju, frog-shaped rice cakes, which are another popular souvenir to bring from Nagoya. The logo of Aoyagi is a frog and that is where the frog-shape comes from.
A pack of 10 bite-sized Uiro with 5 different flavors (white sugar, brown sugar, matcha, red bean, and cherry blossom) costs around 1300 yen, Uiro for athletes costs 410 yen for 4 slices and 3 Kaeru Manju cost 270 yen.
Aoyagi has many stores all over Nagoya, you can find one in the Esca Underground Shopping Mall next to Nagoya Station or visit the main store close to Osu Kannon Station.
Established in 1949 in Osu, Osu Uiro makes some delicious Uiro as well as something they call Nairo which is Uiro mixed with Koshi-an red bean paste.
Osu Urio also sells their Uiro in one-bite sized packs of 5, 10, 15, 20 or 25. The set of 10 pieces with 5 flavors costs around 1200 yen. Flavors are white sugar, brown sugar, matcha, cherry blossom, and their special Nairo red bean flavor.
The main shop of Osu Uiro is, of course, located in the Osu district of Nagoya, but you can find other shops close to Nagoya Station in Esca Shopping Street and in Sakae’s department stores Mitsukoshi and Matsuzakaya.
Founded in 1659 Mochibun Sohonten is the oldest producer of Uiro in Nagoya.
Mochibun is a confectionary which sells not only delicious Uiro but also other Japanese sweets such as Dorayaki and Oni Manju.
They also sell seasonal Uiro. In autumn their special are chestnut Uiro, in a one-bite sized round shape with a piece of chestnut in the middle. If you want to learn more about autumn in Nagoya read this post.
Their standard Uiro is sold by the block and costs just under 500 yen with chestnut flavor costing 750 yen. You can get a set of all four flavors (white, brown, matcha, and chestnut) for 2300 yen if you want to.
5 pieces of their seasonal one-bite sized chestnut Uiro cost 650 yen.
Their main shop is in the south of Nagoya close to Toyodahommachi Station on the Meitetsu line.
You can find their products in shops like the Gift Kiosk in Nagoya Station, inside Takashimaya Department Store, and at Nagoya Airport.
Suzume Odori is a confectionary shop from Nagoya founded in 1856. At the shop, you can not only buy their delicious Uiro but also other Japanese traditional sweets called Wagashi.
They have a little cafe inside the shop with a sweets menu serving Japanese treats like Warabimochi, Zenzai, Anmitsu and even a set of Matcha tea with a Wagashi sweet. An experience every traveler to Japan should have.
When I visited the shop the served me a one-bite sized Uiro and some tea for free!
10 pieces of one-bite Uiro with 5 flavors cost 1080 yen.
Suzume Odori’s main shop is located in Sakae District not far from Yabacho Station. Their products are also sold at the Gift Kiosk in Nagoya Station as well as at the Nagoya Airport.
Final Thoughts on Uiro in Nagoya
Uiro is a traditional sweet with a long history and subtle flavor. It goes perfectly with tea and because it is relatively affordable it is a great place to start when exploring the cuisine of Nagoya.
For more information on travel in Nagoya in general click here.
Here is a selection of posts that might interest you:
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In love with Japan and its amazing food, Lena wants to share her passion with the world. That’s why she started Nagoya Foodie. To teach about Nagoya, her adoptive home online through blog posts and offline through unique food tours.