A Trip to Japanese Sweets, Sake and Treats
A Trip to Japanese Sweets, Sake and Treats
Welcome to Wagashi.uk — dedicated to Japanese sweets and treats, sights and culture. Take your time to look around and learn all there is to know.
To put it most simply, Wagashi (和菓子) can be described as Japanese confectionary or sweets – "wa" (和) meaning "Japanese" and "kashi" (菓子) being sweets. But there's a lot more to it than that.
Wagashi developed over the centuries part of the traditional green tea ceremony – or Sado (茶道) – also known as "Cha nou yoo" or "The Way of Tea." Traditional Wagashi is centuries-old and harks back to the days before the Meiji Restoration in the 19th century. In fact, the word only came into use in the late 19th century, serving to differentiate domestic sweets from novel imports flowing in from Europe and America. Most of theWagashi enjoyed today have been around in some form or other for centuries – and the skilled confectioners often make use of ingredients and methods that are largely or wholly unique to Japan.
Wagashi has been described as an 'art of the five senses'. You are encouraged to appreciate the experience in terms of all sight, smell, sound, touch and of course, taste. There are three key aspects of Wagashi which set it apart:
The tea ceremony (茶道, sadō or chadō, lit. "the way of tea") has a rich history and Japan's sweets developed along the way. Green 'Macha' and 'Sencha' teas share a delicate and subtle flavour which is reflected in Wagashi.
While many Wagashi are there to be enjoyed at any time of the year, seasonality is central. Times of year are reflected both in the ingredients and the designs, colours, themes. Through Wagashi, we celebrate the passing of the seasons.
Beautiful colours are achieved with fine quality plant-based ingredients rather than artificial additions. Macha powder develops into bright greens; unique sweet potatoes form deep purples, and hazel browns derive from chestnuts or even bracken.
Dorayaki is a Round and flat cake that consists of sweet red bean paste sandwiched between two layers of baked fluffy sponge with castella, wrapped around anko paste
Crystallised sugar, attractively presented in seasonal colours. Konpeito sugar candy was imported to Japan from Portugal in the 16th century
Waffles shaped like fish and filled with anko red bean paste. Taiyaki is a form of similar imagawayaki snacks originally served in a round shell
A sweet red bean jelly. Yokan is a bar of gelled sweet bean paste made chiefly of azuki beans, sugar, and agar. It is one of the most traditional and historical Japanese sweets
Steamed ball-shaped cakes often in shapes from nature, Dango is usually presented in threes on a stick, sometimes dipped in sauces such as sweet green matcha syrup
A jelly-like sweet developed with bracken starch and served with kinako roasted soybean flour, Warabi Mochi is a uniquely Japanese creation
Yatsuhashi involves colourful thin sheets of glutinous rice mochi flavoured with cinnamon or green tea or with red bean paste in the centre
A sweet seasonal mixture of boiled and partially mashed golden chestnuts
The classic sweet, sticky, pounded-rice cake available in innumerable flavours and often inspired by the seasons
Sakura Mochi is a pink springtime wrapped in iconic and wholly edible sakura cherry blossom leaves
A chewy rice cake, Kashiwa Mochi is traditional for Children's Day. This mochi is wrapped in Japanese Emperor Oak
A vibrant green mochi made from glutinous rice flour blended with yomogi Japanese mugwart
Steamed little bun cakes made with flour, rice powder, kudzu or buckwheat. Manju are sweet take take on savoury buns imported from China hundreds of years before
Sugar and rice flour with Chinese yam to develop a plump dough surrounding adzuki beans
A traditional chestnut bun, topped with egg yolk and oven baked until golden brown
Crispy golden wafers with imprinted with designs. Traditionally filled with azuki bean, chestnut, or citrus pastes, monaka today is often served as an ice cream cone sandwich
Large grained azuki beans marinated in molasses and baked into firm, delectable ovals. Kintsuba takes its name and shape from the rounded sword guards of the Samurai
Reminiscent of a hot soup - but served as a dessert - these treats feature boiled adzuki beans and sugar, topped with rice cakes or dumplings
Based on egg-and-flour cakes brought to Nagasaki by Portuguese merchants in the 16th century, castella is technically a Nanban-Gashi
New confections are coming out all the time in Japan. More items to follow!