The term ‘wagashi’ comes from ‘wa’ which translates to ‘Japanese’, and ‘gashi’, from ‘kashi’, meaning ‘sweets’. The culture of wagashi originated from China and underwent significant transformation in Japan. The methods and ingredients transformed over time, from simple mochi and fruits, to more elaborate forms to suit the aristocrats’ taste during the Heian era (794-1185).
Types of Wagashi
There are many types of Wagashi, including:
1. Namagashi (生菓子)
Namagashi are a type of wagashi which are often served during the Japanese tea ceremony. They are made of glutinous rice and red bean paste, shaped into seasonal themes.
2. Manjū (饅頭)
Manjū is a popular traditional Japanese confection; most have an outside made from flour, rice powder and buckwheat and a filling of anko (red bean paste), made from boiled azuki beans and sugar.
3. Dango (団子)
Dango is a type of dumpling and sweet made from mochiko (rice flour), related to mochi. It is often served with green tea. Dango is eaten year-round, but the different varieties are traditionally eaten in given seasons.
4. Dorayaki (どら焼き)
Dorayaki is a type of Japanese confection, а red-bean pancake which consists of two small pancake-like patties made from castella wrapped around a filling of sweet azuki bean paste.
Wagashi are deeply intertwined with the changing of the seasons and Japanese aesthetics, often taking on the shape and motifs of nature, such as flowers and birds. They are enjoyed not only for their flavors, but also for their beautiful, artistic presentations. They have a significant role in Japanese tea ceremonies, where they are served to balance out the bitter taste of the matcha tea.
Making wagashi is considered a form of art in Japan, and the craft is often learned through extensive apprenticeships. Many wagashi masters today are recognized as living national treasures in Japan.
Wagashi, with their delicate shapes and flavors, are a treat for both the eyes and the palate, and are an integral part of Japanese cultural heritage.
Post time: Sep-04-2023