At the end of June a place called Japan House opened up in the West part of London. I only knew its name and I didn’t know anything about it. So, one week after the grand opening I visited the place without any expectation. With their own introduction Japan House “is a project which aims to nurture a deeper understanding and appreciation of Japan in the international community, by creating a number of hubs from which to showcase and communicate Japan as a country of countless charms, able to enrich the rest of the world”.
From the entrance the ground floor level is spaced for the display of many different types of items such as a Bonsai plant, books, arty figures, unusual looking teapots and rubbish bin and then one particular thing on the window sill attracted my attention. It is a wooden object that comes with two parts as a set. One side has some carving on it and the other side has a hole. I wonder if anybody knows what this is.
Tomorrow, the 7th of July, is a day called ‘Tanabata’ Day in Japan. It is not a national holiday but we have events and festivals on that day all over Japan. It is based on an old story that a young couple (stars) who fell in love with each other far too much and neglected their work made the God got very angry. The God decided to make them live separately on each side of the river (the Milky Way), however, seeing that how sad they became, he felt sorry for them and gave them permission to cross over the Milky Way once a year on the night of the 7th of July if the weather is good and the sky is clear. I posted this story in more detail two years ago so if you are interested to know please visit the post.
This is the story that happens in the sky above us, so what can we do down on the earth? We wish it’s going to be a clear sky on the day so that the couple will see each other. As the gesture that we are wishing for their happy meeting we put a bamboo outside our houses and write our wish on a piece of colourful rectangular paper called ‘Tanzaku’ and hang it on the bamboo. Around this time of last year I was working with a British retailer in London. He placed a bamboo outside his shop and asked his customers and passer-by to write their wish and hang the Tanzaku on his bamboo. Amazingly to me it was a huge hit. All people loved the idea and enjoyed the sight of it so much.
By imagining the sight of Tanabata Bamboo I created this sweet for July.
In my previous post I mentioned about the Football World Cup. Both England and Japan went through the Group matches to the knock out stage. I created British Bulldog sweet for supporting England so I have to create some other sweet for supporting Japan too.
Shiba Inu for Japan
In order to support Japan I made one of typically Japanese dogs ‘Shiba Inu’.
How does he look?
Anyway, the tournament match Japan x Belgium is on tonight. Actually it has just started right now. I hope my little Shiba Inu will help Japan win the game!
Go 🇯🇵 Japan!!
I thought it was just yesterday that I had introduced sixteen of Japanese sweets I had made in 2016. Today, the 16th of June, is another ‘Wagashi’ (Japanese Sweet) Day that people place sixteen sweets as an offering to the God and wish for good health and happiness. I am not going to explain about the custom this year so if you are interested to know about the Wagashi Day, please read my post last year.
Since the Wagashi Day in last year a lot of unfortunate sad incidents have happened in the world. I just really wish we will have a safer and happier world by the Wagashi Day next year.
These are the sixteen Japanese sweets out of all the sweets I made in year 2017.
Have a Happy 🍡 Wagashi Day!!
🎍 Happy New Year! 🎍
Another New Year has arrived.
Thank you all for visiting this Blog and supporting me.
I wish you all have a very Happy 2018!!
When schools break up for summer holiday, it is the signal that lots of local festivals are ready to start all around in Japan. Many stalls appear in a square that sell food or goods to the people visiting. There are some stalls for offering games too and ‘Kingyo-sukui’ is the one of them. ‘Kingyo’ means Goldfish and ‘Sukui’ is a noun form of a verb to-scoop in Japanese. So what does ‘Scooping-Goldfish’ mean?
Children enjoying ‘Kingyo-sukui’
On the Kingyo-sukui stall they bring a pond with many small Goldfish. The customers pay to get a small ladle which is made of paper and can keep scooping goldfish until the paper tears up and it is no longer possible to scoop up any fish. That is the time that game is over! At the end of the game you can take the goldfish home you scooped. I have to say I was very good at Kingyo-sukui when I was a child. I could get about 20 goldfish easily with just a one paper ladle.
So when I see Goldfish it reminds me of the Summer holiday. It is very nostalgic and that is why I chose Goldfish as the design for the sweet for August.
Although the fish is called Goldfish, the main colour of them is Red, bright red so the Goldfish on my sweet is also Red.
It has been quite good weather for a while in London. It sometimes rains during the evening and is sunny in the daytime. This is perfect for the plants. In the meantime the rainy season continues in Japan and although it is not the typical season even Typhoon is approaching now. I have seen so many photos of beautiful Hydrangea from Japan which is in full bloom in bright pink and blue in the rain. Yes, the rain is good for plants, definitely. However, sometimes it rains just too much even for Japanese so that people, particularly children, wish it would stop and become sunny the following day …
You might not know but there is such a traditional magic to stop the rain in Japan. It is a charm and you don’t need a magic wand. You don’t need a magical powder. Instead, what you need is a simple mascot! The mascot is called ‘Teru Teru Bōzu’ and you can easily create one by yourself. I assume you are motivated to try making this Japanese traditional Please-Stop-The-Rain-Tomorrow-Mascot. I add “How to make Teru Teru Bōzu” at the end of this post so that you can make one. 🙂
Teru Teru ‘Mochi’ Bōzu
Teru Teru Bōzu is the symbol of this rainy season. Why not have it as a sweet?
It is ‘Tsuyu’ Rainy season again, I mean in Japan. Instead, we are having a heat wave here in London right now. Actually it is the longest heat wave in June for 20 years. But back to talking about the rainy season in Japan. We get an announcement when the rainy season starts in each region, however, it is quite common that it stops raining after the declaration. This year seems to be the example of that year because I just checked today’s weather in Japan and saw ☀ for almost all the area.
Anyway, however the weather is, it is June and it is the begining of the rainy season and the symbol of the season is ‘Ajisai’ Hydrangea flower.
Last year I designed a Japanese sweet Hydrandea by getting inspiration from the flower of June. It was a ‘Nerikiri’ type of sweet. However, because ‘Mochi’ is very popular in London, I have been trying to think how I could make this flower in a Mochi type of sweet. I came up with an idea and here is the result.
Do you know today, the 16th of June, is “the Wagashi Day”? ‘Wagashi’ means Japanese Sweet in general but how is this day connected with Japanese Sweet and what do people do this day?
The Wagashi Day and Sixteen Sweets
It started in the year of 848 in the Heian period when plague was spreading throughout Japan. With the hope that this disease would stop and everybody would live healthily and happily, the Emperor Ninmyō changed the era to Kashō and prayed to the God with an offering of sixteen Japanese sweets. It was on the 16th of June and the number of the sweet offering was associated with the date. Since then this day became the Wagashi Day and people ate Japanese sweets and wished a happy life. This custom carried on until the Edo period.
Sadly the custom diminished sometime later, but in 1979 Japan Wagashi Association reintroduced the Wagashi Day back into society by wishing that people would continue appreciating the magnificent Japanese sweet and carry on the beautiful food culture for future generations.
Although I have liked eating Japanese Sweet Wagashi since my childhood, it is not that long ago that I started making it myself. Since then I realised that Wagashi is such a versatile sweet which is made from very limited ingredients of just beans, rice powder and sugar basically. By wishing this world becomes a safe and wonderful place to everybody I re-introduce 16 sweets of mine that I made last year 2016.
Enjoy your Wagashi Day! 😀