Zenzai, a sweet soup of red beans, made entirely of vegetable ingredients

Zenzai is a sweet soup made of red beans and one of a traditional Japanese sweet.

Zenzai usually contains rice cakes, dumplings, chestnuts, etc. Originally, the food originated in the Kansai region, but there are differences depending on the region. Even if they are made from the same ingredients, those that do not have bean grains left are called “Oshiruko”.

What is Zenzai and is it okay for me to eat it?

Materials of Zenzai

Red beans, rice, rice flour, chestnuts, sugar

Gluten-free Low-gluten Wheat-free Low FODMAPs High FODMAPs
with Beef with Pork with Daily with Egg for Vegetarian
Restaurant Fast food Food supermarket Convenience store Drug store

Zenzai is a Japanese traditional and auspicious food

There are two origins of the name Zenzai.

One is that the food that was served in the Shinto ritual held in Izumo area, where Japanese mythology was born, was called as “Zinzaimochi”. The other is that the famous Buddhist priest said that it was so delicious that he called it the Buddhist term “Zenzai”. Originally, Zenzai meant that it was wonderful.

By the way, “Zenzai” and “Oshiruko” are different things that have different cooking methods.

Zenzai is made from red beans by simmering it in water and sugar, while Oshiruko is made by dissolving red bean paste in water. Both can be made at home, but Zenzai is more time-consuming, so we often eat them at stores that offer Japanese sweets. In addition, supermarkets sell products that we can just warm in a cup.

Try to eat Zenzai!

How much?

$ 5~8

Where can I get Zenzai?

Izumo, the origin of the name, is where the very famous shrine, Izumo Taisha, is located. Since you will often plan for sightseeing, we would like to introduce you to the shops near the approach leading to the shrine.

Japan Zenzai Society No. 1 Store

  • Izumo Zenzai

Contains red and white rice flour dumplings. It costs about $ 5 with pickled cucumber as a side dish. Credit card is acceptable.


  • Matcha Zenzai

Matcha zenzai using matcha is popular. It costs about $ 7 with salted kelp as a side dish. Credit card may not be acceptable.

Izumo Zenzai Mochi Sakaneya

  • Izumo Zenzai

It is a long-established store with a history of nearly 150 years. It costs about $ 6 with pickled yuzu radish. Credit card is acceptable.

Precautions when eating Zenzai


Japanese writer’s comment for Zenzai

Zenzai is cold food in Okinawa prefecture. Summer sweets made by simmering Kintoki beans in brown sugar and serving shiratama and shaved ice.

This Kintoki bean is from California, and brown sugar is a specialty of Okinawa. It was developed according to the culture and climate of Okinawa.

By the way, Zenzai and Oshiruko are also New Year’s foods.

It is said that the red color of red beans prevents the disaster of the year when the rice cakes prepared by God are lowered on New Year’s Day, so they are eaten as Zenzai or Oshiruko. This was the custom of samurai in the Edo period. In modern times, most people, including myself, just eat deliciously without knowing what it means.