A Fresher Spring Arrival

Experience the season's fleeting Japanese sweets

This spring, there's a world of seasonal treats beyond asparagus, artichokes and fava beans.

To experience them, step inside Minamoto Kitchoan, a Japanese confectionery, where handmade, intricate sweets are tied explicitly to the seasons and are displayed in glass cases like edible jewels.

The Japanese company, which opened its sole San Francisco store in 2009, specializes in wagashi, sweets made with mochi, azuki red bean paste and fruit that are traditionally served during Japanese tea ceremonies.

One of the new spring arrivals, kashiwamochi, is breathtaking. A real oak leaf envelopes a white ball of sticky, pounded rice with a center of creamy, sweet bean paste. Unwrap it and inhale the fragrance of the forest.

Another seasonal item, kusamochi, a crescent-shaped rice cake with a striking moss-colored hue, sandwiches a chunkier filling of purple bean paste.

The confections, generally sold by the piece at $2 and up, are shipped from Japan twice a month. Act quickly, though: The spring wagashi will only be available until next month.

Minamoto Kitchoan, 648 Market St. (at Montgomery St.); 415-989-1645 or kitchoan.com