Beautiful flowers, tranquil ponds filled with elegant goldfish, cute bunnies and glistening ripe fruits. This may sound for all the world like a description of a painting hung in a museum somewhere, but this is the world of traditional Japanese sweets, also known as wagashi. Usually served with tea, wagashi are usually made with ingredients such as anko (sweetened red bean paste), mochi, agar agar jelly, chestnuts and rice.
Sugar didn’t become a common seasoning in Japan until the Muromachi period (1336-1573), and it wasn’t until the Edo period (1603-1868) that the popularity and craft of wagashi really began to take off. While the most strictly traditional wagashi include only limited ingredients, as foreign influences grew, wagashi came to include such ingredients as eggs and milk, gradually incorporating elements of breads, cakes, and other western desserts.
From purely traditional yokan red bean jelly to chocolate mochi and the well-loved dorayaki (two pancakes with a filling inside), there will be plenty of wagashi to choose from at this year’s HYPER JAPAN Christmas Market. Check out our friends at Minamoto Kitchoan for a selection of unique (and delicious!) Christmas gifts!