When I opened my blog for writing this new article I was so shocked to realize that it hasn’t been updated since the beginning of March. I know I haven’t posted much lately but there’s no excuse for nearly three months of absence. However, one thing I can tell you is that I have been creating sweets and there are lots of photos of them and half written articles in my folder. It was just because many things happened. We are at the end of May now and I have almost missed the opportunity to post about the beautiful Sakura season. Almost! We are still in springtime, right? So, it’s better late than never!
The beautiful season passed very quickly. I am talking about the Sakura Cherry blossom season of course. In a normal year cherry blossom flowers at the beginning of April. It’s the start of an academic year in Japan so all parents and children who are dressed up for the entrance ceremony to school take a photo with fully blossoming cherry trees. However, I heard that cherry blossom opened so early this year and it was actually the earliest flowering in 1200 years in Japan. It means that the parents and children could not have a memory shot in front of the beautiful sakura this year sadly.
Although it’s been so cold in the UK for 2-3 weeks now in May, we had wonderful weather at the beginning of April. It was good enough weather for viewing single-petal cherry blossoms which was also great timing when the strict lockdown was just eased a little. Lots of people were in the park but still socially distancing between each group.
For this springtime I made several cherry blossom sweets and the first ones are these. They might look similar to the one I made last spring but I introduced a little different technique.
It’s been quite a while since I announced about my upcoming Workshop. I am happy to tell you that I am planning to have a Wagashi Making Workshop in Spring theme one more time. The Sakura Cherry Blossom season has been gone even in London but Sakura flower is the very popular shape to make amongst participants so this will be the last Workshop to make Sakura Cherry Blossom together this year. If you fancy making one yourself please join me.
One thing I want you to know is that the venue of the Workshop has been changed. It will be in North London this time so please check the address below if it is reachable for you.
Wagashi Making Workshop in London
on: The 14th May (Tuesday) 7-8:30/9pm
at: The Annexe (46 Park Road, Crouch End, London N8 8TD)
For booking your space please send me a message from Contact on this Blog or give me a direct message on Instagram/facebook/Twitter with your Email address. I will send you the details by email.
There are various ways of expressing ‘Sakura’ Cherry blossom as ‘Wagashi’ Japanese sweet. When I look back at my sweets in old photos I realise that the shape and colour have changed. There is nothing wrong in any sweet but all depends on how you feel and also what types of material and technique I want to try using at that time.
Here is a Japanese sweet ‘Two Petals’. It is a ‘Wagashi’ in the shape of two petals of Sakura Cherry blossom half covering each other. Sakura season seems to be coming to the end in Japan but blossom of some Cherry trees is still hanging on luckily in the UK, maybe because the weather is quite chilly these days.
The greatest thing about Sakura blossom is its colour. Particularly in a mild but bright spring sunlight it gives such a warmth into people’s mind. I wanted to create the gentle gradation on the petal from very light pink to almost white colour.
I am so pleased that although the season started a little earlier this year Sakura Cherry blossom is still flowering well. I can see one Cherry tree in my garden in full bloom right at the moment. Some petals started falling down with a breeze but it is creating a beautiful ‘Fuzei’ (pleasantly aesthetic) moment to your mind too. On top of the privilege of enjoying the view of next door’s Cherry blossom, this tree also produces tasty cherry fruit. I hope it will be a great summer for cherries.
So we are in Cherry blossom time. As a Japanese sweet creator I have made several Sakura sweets this spring and this one is the first one I created.
I made this design for a Tea specialty shop in London.
Now officially it is spring in the UK. Which means Sakura season has started. Sakura is a Japanese word for Cherry tree and also Cherry Blossom. People in Japan love Cherry blossoms and go crazy when this season starts or even before when the season comes nearer. I mentioned about our tradition in Sakura season three years ago on this blog so if you are interested about the custom please read my old post.
As well as our traditional Cherry Blossom viewing ‘Hanami’ we like to eat all sorts of food which is in flavour or shape of Sakura blossom. There are many ways to produce Sakura related sweets and I will try making several different types in this season.
Sakura sweet in Japanese Crêpe style (with recipe)
For us Japanese Spring time is all about ‘Sakura’Cherry Blossom. You might think all the Cherry blossoms are the same, however, there are many different types. The species with single petal flower start blossoming first and then other types with multi petals follow to open flowers. So that, although the best viewing time is quite short for each tree, we can enjoy viewing Sakura Cherry blossom for quite a long time betwee mid – late March and throughout April in Japan.
These days it is getting quite well known that Japanese have a picnic party eating and drinking under a full blooming Cherry tree. It is called ‘O’Hanami’. It literally means ‘the viewing of Sakura blossoms’ and it tells how much we love seeing Sakura. I tried to think a perfect Japanese sweets for this O’Hanami occasion which is something delicious in the Cherry blossom theme and also easy to pick and eat outdoors.
The sweet I created for the O’Hamani occasion is ‘Ukishima’. It looks quite like a western cake but is actually a very Japanese sweet with a soft, light texture. When I tasted this sweet the first time, I fell in love with it! The best thing about it is it’s so moist.
I made Yomogi Mochi for April. I don’t know why I feel like having Yomogi Mochi especially in spring but I made Yomogi Mochi and posted about it last year too. Maybe because ‘Yomogi’ is wild leaves you can find in a field and we are in the season now that lots of plants are just coming out after being under a cold weather. My Yomogi Mochi this year looks quite similar to the last years. So what is the difference?
Yomogi Mochi, 2018
The outer layer is a ‘Mochi’ type of Japanese sweet with Yomogi leaves mixed in. It has a slightly bitter leafy taste but with sweetness and a bouncy and gooey Texture. As the centre I used ‘Tsubu-An’Sweet Azuki Beans paste without skin removed during the process. Yomogi and Tsubu-An are just a great combination and I could not think of using any other bean paste for Yomogi flavour.
We are in April. We had a cold winter with quite a lot of snow in the UK but even we must be finally in Spring? I keep receiving posts and photos that say ‘Sakura’ Cherry blossoms came to Japan far too early this spring. Single-petaled Cherry species always blossom earlier than multi-petaled ones and it normally starts opening at the end of March and becomes full bloom at the beginning of April. However, this year single-petaled blossom almost ended even before April came. April is the beginning of the academic year in Japan so the entry ceremonies to schools and companies are held at the beginning of April. It is normally a great sight that people posing with full Sakura blossom as the background for the photo shoot on their special day, but maybe it did not happen this year.
Because the weather was so miserable for the last week or two in London I did not go for a walk very often. I went to the nearby park to see the Sakura blossoming situation two days ago and noticed that half of the flower buds were already open. It is a warm and sunny day yesterday so most of the buds would be open by now.
Since I started making Japanese sweets I always make some sweet in the theme of Sakura Cherry Blossom in spring. I made a sweet quite literally in a Sakura flower shape last year so this year I wanted make something Sakura as an image.