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!
This sweet is vegan and gluten free.
Happy New Year!
Wishing you all a wonderful safe Happy 2021!
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.
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.
Is there such a thing as too early for watermelon🍉? Not in my book! 😅
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.
It’s very windy today in London.
Have a lovely weekend!🍉🍉
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.
How is your lockdown life going? Whilst I have been staying at home, it’s so spring outside. Luckily we are allowed to go out for exercise once a day in the UK so I can find some spring even in this difficult time.
Daffodil is one on the early spring flowers. The colour of the flower is white to orangey yellow, but I love the white one the best. They look so clean and pure.
I made this sweet as one of the monthly Japanese sweets for the Havan Store (262 Kensington High Street, London) during March. I am pleased to hear that their customers liked it very much and it sold out quickly.
I thought something refreshing taste is suitable for this spring sweet and selected orange flavour for its centre filling.
This sweet is Vegan and Gluten free.
‘Stay Home’ everybody and take care of yourself!
We’ve been having the perfect weather for the Bank Holiday. When Easter approaches I always want to make Hot Cross Buns and dream to have it with a huge dollop of clotted cream and raspberry jam. However, last year I wanted to make something similar but also quite different from the usual buns. As a Japanese sweet maker I thought I should try making something similar as a Japanese sweet so I made Hot Steamed Cross Manju. It was a steamed buns with Azuki bean paste filling inside.
For this Easter I wanted to go for a more Japanese sweet and made this one. It still may look quite like a hot cross bun, however, it is a totally Japanese sweet this time. It might be difficult to see its scale but the size of each sweet is very small and it’s about 4cm diameter.
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.