Dango is a round sweets and a type of small dumplings made from cereal powder, which is steamed or boiled. Three to five dango are often skewered with small bamboo stick. The ingredients originally used were crushed or immature grain of rice, and cereals such as barley, wheat, buckwheat, and corn, but rice flour is now used as a main ingredient.
It is usually seasoned sugar, so it tastes sweet, but sometimes seasoned with soy sauce, so it tastes salty. Azuki red bean paste, or sauce made with sugar and soy sauce is often spread on the surface of sweet one. It is also common for dango to be covered with kinako, roasted soybean flour. It is also put in sweet red bean soup called shiruko, or sweets called mitsumame which uses ingredients such as agar, red peas, apricot, with sweet syrup.
Dango existed from the Heian period (794-1185), but not until the Muromachi period (1338-1573), the dumpling started to be called dango. It skewered with bamboo stick became common in the Muromachi period. In the Edo period, dango stared to be served at tea shops in the urban area and on the highroad. For tea ceremonies, dango started to be eaten with tea as a dessert. In the rural area, it was baked or put in a soup and eaten as substitution of main dish.
There are local dango from different areas of Japan. For example, in the Edo period, toudango was sold in the Utsunoya pass, which is in the current Shizuoka city, and the characteristic of the dango was that bunch of small dango were pierced through with thread. Mitarashi-dango was created in the Kamo Mitarashi Tea House, in current Kyoto city, and the characteristic of the dango is the sweet soy sauce glaze.