Like many aspects of Japanese culture, tea, originally imported from continental China, developed into a specific form of entertainment in the archipelago. Monks and warriors were among the first to enjoy merriments around the green leaves.
Ozu, as a former castle town, grew a strong tea culture due to its large concentration of samurai retainers. The active promotion of tea gatherings by the first Kato daimyos (early 17th century) also played a substantial role.
Sweets became an essential part of the ritual. And confectioners in Ozu have been diligently catering to locals ever since. Ubiquitous wagashi, found elsewhere in the archipelago, are being healthily produced. But specific/local forms of such treats were once conjured and some of them have made it to the present-day: Gessomochi月窓餅, Shigure志ぐれ or Bankeimochi 盤珪餅 are among the best loved ones.
Signature local wagashi, shigure志ぐれ, deserves special attention. This simple blend of azuki red beans and rice flour, matching perfectly the sourness of a cup of green-tea, has become a hallmark of the city. No less than 10 producers can be found across town, each one delivering its own peculiar touch to the recipe.
The majority of them being concentrated in and around the historic centre, looking for the shops and sampling different sorts of shigure while exploring old streets makes for a very entertaining discovery of the city.
Alternatively, tea and tea ceremonies can be enjoyed in historic venues, remarkably well entertained such as Garyu Sanso 臥龍山荘or Bansenso盤泉荘.