New Year and Kagami-Mochi

The transition period from the end of a year to New Year in Japan is interesting. Traditionally we close a year by listening ‘Joya-no-kane’, 108 gongs of a huge bell at a Buddhism temple. In the Buddhism world it is believed that each person has 108 evil passions so each time hitting the bell it is removing our passion from us before starting the new year.

However, when we celebrate the New Year in a totally Shinto style. Of course we are all sin-less thanks to the Joya-no-kane on the previous night so it is a happy celebratory morning. When I was a child my family used to have a morning bath and changed into brand new underwear. When we sat at the table the first thing to do is haveing a little alcoholic beverage called ‘O-toso’ in a flat goblet and hope that all family would be well and healthy all through the year. We moved onto the breakfast having ‘O-sechi’ (special New Year meal prepared previously) and ‘O-zoni’ (Mochi in broth).

There are so many other customs we do only in New Year but one of them is placing ‘Kagami-Mochi’ in certain places. It is basically a set of two round mochi ( which are pounded glutinous savoury rice and not the dessert mochi sweets with ice cream inside) with a citrus fruit ‘Dai-dai’ on top. Normally it also gets decorated with some green leaves and white paper cut into Shinto style, but how you decorate it depends on the family.

Kagami Mochi

All the things I wrote above are the customs in Japan. I’ve been living in the UK for a long time and haven’t done much traditional custom in the past, however, I felt I wanted to do some for this year so I made Kagami-mochi.

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Tsukimi Dango

How was the weather where you are yesterday? It was the day the full-moon should be seen last night that people in Japan celebrate and enjoy viewing the beauty of it. By hoping to see the beautiful full moon we traditionally eat round (moon-shaped) Mochi. However, the shape of the Mochi varies depending on the area.

Tsukimi Dango

I was hoping to see the beautiful full moon and made two types of Tsukimi Dango. ‘Tsuki’ means moon and ‘Mi (Miru)’ means to view in Japanese.

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Lacecap Hydrangea

Some parts of the UK and Europe have been hit by thunder storms over the weekend. Although London was not affected much, it rains on and off. I’ve been experiencing difficulty sleeping through several stuffy nights so I am very pleased its’ cooled off. The showers were also very welcome in my garden because the earth was very dry.

gakuajisai2007There is one plant that looks great in the rain. It’s Hydrangea. The flower is normally pink or blue and it’s said that the acidic soil makes the flower blue and the more alkaline soil makes it pink. It’s now in the flowering season of the water loving Hydrangea and the rain enhances its beauty. I think the pompom-like common Hydrangea looks pretty, however, the one I like is the Lacecap Hydrangea which has a little more delicate touch.

 

Lacecap Hydrangea

I have made several Hydrangea sweets before and this time I created the Lacecap Hydrangea.

Hydrangea10-5

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Happy Wagasgi Day

The 16th of June is ‘Wagashi’ Japanese Sweet Day. Although the ceremony is an old tradition that started in 848, it was forgotten once for a long time and reintroduced to the modern Japanese people in 1979. As a part of the ceremony we place sixteen sweets as an offering to the God in order to pray for good health.

Instead of offering sixteen sweets I have been introducing sixteen sweets from all my creation of the previous year recently (2018, 2017 and 2016 with the more detail of the Wagashi Day).

My Sixteen Wagashi in 2019

So I introduce sixteen Wagashi from all the Japanese sweets I created in the year 2019 here.

Happy Wagashi Day for you!

Watermelon Mochi Sweet

Is there such a thing as too early for watermelonπŸ‰? Not in my book! πŸ˜…

This is a Mochi type sweet in the shape and flavour of watermelon. I know watermelon is the king of summer fruit but we are still in the new normal life-style and I couldn’t wait to post this sweet until summer comes.

It’s Vegan and Gluten free.

watermelon20-2-2

It’s very windy today in London.

Have a lovely weekend!πŸ‰πŸ‰

Plum Flower Mochi

It is a little early for expecting ‘Sakura’ cherry blossom but you can see pretty ‘Ume’ Plum flowers in Japan. The flower looks quite similar to cherry blossom but much tinier and with a intoxicating sweet scent. The petal comes from white to dark pink and quite often you can find flowers in different colours on the same tree.

‘Ume’ Plum Flower Mochi

So I made Plum Flower Mochi as one of my January sweets.

Plum 1

It’s got a soft gooey Mochi type sweet as the outer layer that is made into a shape of a plum flower. The sweet white bean paste filling is placed inside as well as homemade plum jam.

Plum 2

This sweet is Vegan and Gluten free.

This sweet was served at a Matcha Bar at the Havan Store during January (sorry to post this information too late) and I am very pleased to hear that it has received a great feedback. I am preparing different sweets for February now so please stay tuned!

Fortune Mochies

It’s Chinese New Year today!

Fortune Mochies

For cerebrationg Chinese New Year I made Fortune Mochies! It’s in a shape of fortune cookie but the outer layer is made of Mochi sweet instead with a hint of cinnamon and filled with smooth sweet Azuki (red) bean paste.

Fortune mochi

– Mochi gives you happiness! –

Hope everyone bocomes happy in year 2020!😊

’Temari’ Ball

Around the New Year’s Day period I feel like I am more Japanese than any other time of a year. It must be because New Year is traditionally such a big event for Japanese and we have three days national holiday in Japan. As my New Year card I used the photo of ‘Kagami Mochi’ sweet this year. Kagami Mochi, two pieces of round Mochi placed on top of each other and decorated with a citrus with a leaf called ‘Daidai’, seemed to be a very spiritually Japanese thing for me. My spirit has been still in traditionally Japanese mode all through January and my second sweet of the year 2020 is this ‘Temari’ Ball.

 

‘Temari’ Ball

temari_top

Handcrafted Art ‘Temari’ Balls

‘Temari’ is a Traditional Japanese handcrafted ball which is made with cloth and embroidery. The materials and pattern provide a very Japanese quality. I made a sweet which is supposed to look like a Temari. Instead of creating a pattern of embroidery I tried to produce the Japanese-ish image with the colour combination.

Temari2-3

I made two types of Temari sweet in a different colour combination, one with pink and purple and the other one with green and orange-yellow, and placed a tiny golden ball on top.

The darkest colour of each type is coloured with food. The purple with Ube, purple sweet potato, and green with ‘Match’ Green tea. Both types have a ‘Koshi-An’ Azuki Red bean paste as the centre filling so you can enjoy the taste combination of “Purple sweet potato x sweet Bean paste” and “Matcha x sweet Bean paste”, I assure you that both go so well.

This sweet is Vegan and Gluten free.