Nagoya, It’s Sweet Enough – Uirō, Nagoya’s Tasty Dessert

ByBert Wishart
Jul 31, 2023

Nagoya, It’s Sweet Enough – Uirō, Nagoya’s Tasty Dessert

Nagoya meshi [cuisine] is known for its rambunctious flavors, typified Taiwan Ramen, ankake pasta, and by the red miso that is slathered all over pretty much everything. However, when it comes to desserts, things get a little bit more refined, particularly in the case of uirō.

Pronounced as “wee-roh,” uirō is a soft and chewy wagashi [Japanese sweet] similar to mochi made from glutinous rice flour and subtle hints of sugar, flavored with azuki red bean paste, green tea, citrus yuzu, strawberry or chestnut. Originally a medicine in the Muromachi period (1336–1573) uirō actually started out in Tokyo’s prestigious Odawara samurai clan as a breath cleanser, like a tic tac. However, unlike tic tacs, uirō was the preserve of the elites, and in China it was only sold to the Emperor.

References of uirō as a confectionary product as opposed to a medicine start to appear in the 18th century, and in the tumultuous Meiji era, it became available to the general public, initially at Mochibun Sohonten in Nagoya’s Minami Ward. Purveyors of wagashi since 1659, Mochibun Sohonten, became the watchword for quality in uriō, encouraging other Nagoya confectioners to do likewise, and very soon, uirō became synonymous with Nagoya.

Today there are numerous top-quality confectioners at which to buy this delicious sweet, either for yourself or to give as gifts. Below are a few of them that you might like to try out.

Uirō Stores in Nagoya

Mochibun Sohonten

Established in 1659, these guys are the aforementioned originators.

Where: 2 Chome-36-24 Yutaka, Minami Ward, Nagoya (map)

Aoyage Sohonke

Though they have been making wagashi since 1789, Aoyage Sohonke started producing uirō in 1931, and were the first to sell hitokuchi (bite-sized) uirō. They shot to national fame in the 1960s when they obtained the exclusive rights as uirō purveyors on the Tokaido Shinkansen.

Where: 2 Chome-18-50 Osu, Naka Ward, Nagoya (map)

Osu Uirō

Established in 1949 in Nagoya’s shopping district of Osu, Osu Uirō are also famous for their nairō, which is uirō mixed with a smooth, sweet red bean paste called koshi-an. If you want to try  out their hitokuchi uirō, a set of five costs just 540 JPY

Where: 2 Chome-18-50 Osu, Naka Ward, Nagoya (map)

Image: By via (CC BY 2.0) Modified
Image: By via (CC BY 2.0) Modified

About the author

Bert Wishart editor

Novelist, copywriter and graduate from the most prestigious university in Sunderland, Bert whiles away his precious time on this Earth by writing about popular culture, travel, food and pretty much anything else that is likely to win him the Pulitzer he desperately craves.

1 comment so far

Lynn ThompsonPosted on8:40 pm - Aug 1, 2023

Hi Bert, I’m very hurt that you didn’t respond to my last email. I actually shared in two Pulitzer Prizes won by the Seattle Times newsroom during my 15 years as a reporter there. Are you based in Nagoya? I have just moved here with my husband who is an engineer with Boeing Japan’s new research center. I would love to get together and talk English, if you’re ever free for lunch.

Best wishes, Lynn Thompson

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