July 7th, is known in Japan as Tanabata 七夕, or Star Festival (Qixi Festival in China). According to legend, this is the one day of the year that the star-crossed lovers Orihime and Hikoboshi (represented by the stars Altair and Vega), separated by the Milky Way, can finally meet. As we introduced before in grape Japan, Tanabata is a festive occasion and one of the highlights of Japanese summer. Shopping arcades are brightly decorated and people tie wish cards to bamboo branches in the hopes they will come true.

Japanese sweet shops, especially traditional wagashi shops will often mark the occasion with themed sweets. The creations can be quite beautiful, but one shop in Aichi Prefecture has truly mastered the art, with a gorgeous collection of starry and summery sweets perfect for the season.

Every year, Ōmiya (Oumiya) 近江屋, a wagashi sweets shop which has operated in Toyota City, Aichi Prefecture for 80 years, gets noticed both by locals and on its Twitter account 菓舗 近江屋 (@oumiya_toyota), and it's not hard to see why.

【夜空の路】yozora no michi

This beautiful purple and yellow wagashi is called 【夜空の路】yozora no michi, which means "path beneath the night sky." Inspired by Leiji Matsumoto's classic anime Galaxy Express 999, the chef wanted to "convey the motif of the spacefaring train's tracks as it voyages between the stars."

Reproduced with permission from 菓舗 近江屋 (@oumiya_toyota)

【星に願いを】hoshi ni negai wo

This sweet, made with awayuki 淡雪, a type of yōkan paste mixed with merengue, is called 【星に願いを】hoshi ni negai wo, which means "wishing upon a star." As you can see, the stars are conveyed with gold flakes against a beautiful backdrop of summer colors.

Reproduced with permission from 菓舗 近江屋 (@oumiya_toyota)

【天の川】ama no gawa

One of Ōmiya's most famous Star Festival sweets, this translucent agar-based kingyoku 錦玉 style jelly is called 【天の川】ama no gawa, which means the "Milky Way" (lit. "river in the sky"). As you can see, the gorgeous colors of the milky way and the stars are masterfully expressed in this dessert. It's truly a work of art.

Reproduced with permission from 菓舗 近江屋 (@oumiya_toyota)

There are also sweets not specifically focused on the Star Festival, but inspired by the summer season.


This refreshingly colored jelly made with high-quality Yoshino kuzu agar is called 【夏木立】natsukodachi, a traditional seasonal Japanese expression describing a grove of trees lushly growing in summer. The chef paid particular attention to expressing the various shades of green.

Reproduced with permission from 菓舗 近江屋 (@oumiya_toyota)

If you'd like to see more of Ōmiya's creations, you can follow their Twitter account. If you live in Japan and happen to be in the area, you can visit them at the following address:

  • Address (JP): 〒473-0914愛知県豊田市若林東町棚田24
  • Address (EN): 24 Tanada Wakabayashi Higashimachi, Toyota City, Aichi Prefecture 473-0914
  • Hours: 8:00 - 18:00 (17:00 on Sundays)
  • Tel: 0565-52-0108
  • Access: 5 min. walk from Meitetsu Wakabayashi Sta.
  • Website

By - Ben K.