Youkan is a Japanese dessert made of red bean paste and sugar. It looks like a thick jelly. It is usually available as a small block, and eaten in slices. Youkan comes in red and green. The red one is made of red beans - azuki. The green one is made of white beans, has a much milder flavour and it is coloured by using green tea powder - matcha.
Youkan has this kanji 羊羹, "sheep" and "thick soup" respectively. It was originally a Chinese snack, a gelatin formed after boiling sheep. Since Buddhism forbids killing, the animal gelatin was replaced by beans.
Youkan can be stored for a long time without refrigeration. However, after opening the pack, it must be kept in the fridge. It goes well with tea.
Some friends generously offered me this lovely set of plates with seasonal haiku. Thank you!
I bought this special matcha youkan in Gion, Kyoto.