Tomodachi Spring 2016


Wagashi :
Traditional Japanese Confections

Photo from Shimanesque Shimane no. 95. Courtesy Shimane Prefectural Government.

 Wagashi are traditional Japanese sweets, which portray the season with their shape, color, and ingredients. They are works of art designed to appeal to all the senses with their appearance, flavor, aroma, feel, and the sounds of their names.
 The sweets in the photo are from Matsue, Shimane Prefecture. Along with Kyoto and Kanazawa, Matsue is one of Japan’s three most famous producers of wagashi. These are high-grade fresh confections made with colorful nerikiri, a workable mixture of white bean paste and glutinous rice, and yokan, sweet jellied bean paste. From the left, they are hanakago, “flower basket,” displaying the cherry blossoms of spring; kao, “king of flowers,”representing the peony, Shimane’s prefectural flower; and fuji, “wisteria.” The filling, made from beans that are polished to remove the outer skin, melts in the mouth, leaving a delicate sweetness typical of the finest wagashi.
 Starting with this issue we will introduce wagashi from around Japan. We hope that you enjoy seeing and reading about these artistic confections—and that you will have opportunities to enjoy eating them as well.