The quarter final match ‘England vs Ukraine’ of Euro 2020 is on tonight. I made the British bulldog with Japanese sweet for supporting England in the last World Cup so this time I created the Queen’s Corgi for supporting them. It’s a plant based edible Corgi.
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.
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.
The year 2021 has just started but we are already in the fifth day in the New Year! Since we entered into this pandemic time has passed too fast. Now we are facing an even tougher situation particularly in the UK and our movement will be more restricted soon.
Ox Year has begun!
For celebrating the New Year I created some Japanese sweets. One of them is the red and white sweet with Japanese ‘Mizuhiki’ design that I used for my New Year card. Another one is this sweet. According to the Chinese zodiac, 2021 is the year of the Ox. I know the design on this sweet is a cow and not ox nor bull, but in Japan we include all their family.
I made this sweet with an image of a happy cow jumping up on the spring field. I wanted to create something rather comical to cheer us up by hoping this year will be a better one than 2020!
Whilst we’ve been locked down, it’s already the middle of May and the Cherry blossom season has been long gone! Luckily I had a chance to see beautiful Sakura blossom in my area during my walking.
Japanese people love Cherry blossom so much that we have lots of words which express scenes relating to Sakura blossom. Even when we see the blossom is ending and some petals are blown away, we find a beauty in the scene of sakura petals floating on water such as a pond or river. We call it ‘Hana Ikada’ which means a flower raft. I made my version of Hana Ikada, Floating Sakura Petals.
It was ‘Midori no Hi’ the Greenery Day in Japan on the 4th of May. It’s a national holiday that people should get close to and appreciate nature. Of course we cannot go outside as much as we’d like in the current situation so I am posting a very green sweet as a reminder how wonderful nature is.
This is a ‘Mochi’ sweet with ‘Matcha’ green tea flavoured filling inside and dusted with more Matcha powder.
It was more than a month ago but the first Japanese sweet making workshop of this year ended wonderfully. It became the workshop with the biggest attendees of mine. Everybody was very enthusiastic and the class went very smoothly.
Wagashi Making Workshop in January
The class didn’t have just many participants, it had several different nationalities of people with four male. It was very balanced class. I mentioned that the last class in December we had a group of friends using the class as the occasion to celebrate a birthday girl. In this January class we had not one, but two birthday girls so it had a very happy atmosphere for all of us. I was pleased that my workshop has been chosen for a celebration event and hope it will continue having more birthday girls/boys in the future.
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.
I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas/New Year Holiday. After a long great rest I am sure people are ready for the new challenge in this brand new year 2020. I have prepared the Wagashi Making Workshop in the early spring theme for you.
Wagashi Making Workshop in January
This will be the first Wagashi Workshop this year so the theme is early spring. I thought several ideas and chose these three designs for this workshop which include a Snow Rabbit and ‘Ume’ plum flower in two ways.
on: the 26th / January (Sunday), 13:00 – 15:00
at: The Havan Store (262 Kensington High Street, London W8 6ND)
As the name says a Snow Rabbit is supposed to be snow made into a rabbit shape. It is a traditional children’s custom in a snowy area in Japan. The ears are normally made with two long leaves so that the snow rabbit we are going to make is also having green ears.
The Plum flower is a symbol of New Year. It is almost the first flower to appear in a garden when the weather is still severe so it’s thought to be something delightful and brings happiness.
One of the plum designs we will create is a flower by using a traditional technique. You will learn how to use the wooden tool and your hand to make the sweet into a lovely flower shape. In the second plum flower design I want to show the image of plum blossoms opening on branches in early spring. I am planning to set this one as the free designing sweet and hope I will see lots of different looking sweets designed by creative participants.
The sweets we will make are all Vegan and Gluten free.
[The tickets] for this workshop are available now from here (←click here to the Link). The class is limited to 9 people only so don’t miss out on this great opportunity!
Since December has begun it seems like my time has been passing so quickly. We had Christmas already and now we have only one day left before New Year’s Eve. I had a Wagashi Making Workshop in December and that was already about a month ago.
On one Sunday afternoon people gathered in the cosy basement space of the Havan Store for making the Christmas themed Wagashi together. The participants were consisted of four groups which were two friends groups, two sisters and one individual person. The youngest attendee this time was one of the sisters who was 12 years old girl and who’d wanted to join us in our previous Halloween themed workshop but couldn’t. So it was my great pleasure that we had her for this session as one of attendees.
One of the friends groups of three girls came to our event as the birthday celebration of one of the girls’. The birthday girl seemed to be a big Japanese culture lover and it was a brilliant way to spend a day together with her and I felt privileged that they chose my workshop for this memorable occasion.
Wagashi Making Workshop in the Christmas Theme
I chose three designs for this workshop. They were a Snowman, a Christmas Pudding and a Christmas Tree. I always enjoy seeing that participans get creative and make the sweets in their own way so I normally keep my examples quite simple and leave some space that attendees can develop by themselves. After deciding these three sweets there was a litle doubt in my mind that there might not be enough room to show their creativity, however, I was very wrong. All of the participants used all the materials cleverly and created something remarkable in the end.