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.
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.
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.
🎍 Happy New Year! 🎍
Wish you all have a wonderful year and the world becomes much peaceful!
Today, the 16th of June, is the Wagashi Day (please read the article about this day that I posted in 2017). It started as the day that the emperor made sixteen of ‘Wagashi’ Japanese sweets as the offering to the God when the plague took place and destroyed people’s lives in the Heian period. Although the day was set as the Wagashi Day since then, the custom of the offering almost died down. However, just recently people started bringing this Memorial day back.
By following the custom of offering, I re-introduce sixteen sweets of my Wagashi I had created in the previous year here.
16 My Wagashi in 2018
Here are the sixteen sweets from all Wagashi Japanese sweets I have created in the year 2018.
With these sixteen sweets offering/photos I just hope our world is going to reshift towards a better direction. Happy Wagashi Day!
Two weeks ago I hold a ‘Wagashi’ Japanese Sweet Making Workshop. It was at a Tea specialty shop in Soho London and the workshop was combined with a Japanese Tea tasting session. This time we had six participants and they were composed of two friends with a daughter, a couple and a French lady. They all had been to Japan or lived there before so everyone knew what we were going to create so I could start the class very smoothly.
Wagashi Making Workshop (03/2018)
These are the Wagashi sweets I planned to make together with the participants.
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)
This is a baked type Sakura sweet in crêpe style.
It was ‘Hinamatsuri’ the Girl’s Day yesterday. I have mentioned about the Japanese culture of praying for the good health and happiness of girls on the 3rd of March on my previous post. We decorate our home with Hina Dolls of Emperor and Empress as well as some other figures on red carpeted shelves, that are between five to seven shelves (or even more) traditionally. I created some sweets in shapes of the dolls in the past. On this day we don’t just decorate but also eat a sweet called ‘Hishimochi’ which means diamond-shaped Mochi which I also have created it once before.
There is one sweet that people particularly in the Kyoto area eat for the Girl’s Day but I was not familiar with it until recently. The sweets are called ‘Hichigiri’. I heard that this sweet was born in the palace in the old time in probably the Heian period. People needed to make many Mochi to serve so many guests that they were too busy to roll up each Mochi piece into a ball shape. Then they just pulled small pieces and left the pulled shape as it was. If you understand ‘Kanji’ (Chinese) character you know Hichigiri (引千切) means literally ‘pull and cut into a thousand’. I could imagine that the Palace kitchen was so busy.😆
So this year I tried creating these sweets for Hinamatsuri.
We are in March now and going to have one of the Japanese customs tomorrow on the 3rd of March. It is Girl’s Day called ‘Hinamatsuri’ and we pray for the health and happiness of girls by decorating special Hina Dolls in our houses on the day. This day is also called ‘Momo no Sekku’ which means Peach Festival and we place peach flower in a room or eat peach fruit or peach flower shaped sweets. I have created some sweets in a shape of Hina dolls in the past but I made a simple dessert for the coming event this year.
Momo-Mochi Matcha Zenzai
I created ‘Momo’ (Peach) flower shape in a bowl and had it with Matcha tea in ‘Zenzai’ style. Zenzai is a sweet soup type dessert that we normally make with sweet Azuki (Red) bean paste during a cold season. I created this Matcha version to make it suitable for spring. It is very easy to make at home so I am going to share how to prepare this dessert.
This Sunday Sakura Junction will be having a stall in a small Christmas Market in North London. The special thing about this Jolly Hobbies Market is that many stall holders are Japanese or the stuff sold there will be something related to Japanese culture. Hence, it’s Japanese Christmas Market! The number of visitors is definitely increasing every year. This year’s event was notified on Time Out recently so I believe we are going to have very many people.
I have been a part of this event for 7 years now. The products I have dealt with have changed slightly but I always stick to one thing ‘Wagashi’ Japanese sweets. This year I am preparing two types of food. One of them is of course my speciality Wagashi and the other type is ‘Gyoza’ Dumpling cooked on site. As I mentioned on my previous post this year’s Gyoza comes in two flavours. One is for vegetarians and the other one is Turkey meat with Christmas seasoning. I tried tasting at home and it worked very well! So I hope everybody likes it on the day.
I have only two more days to prepare but actually I haven’t decided all the Japanese sweet products selection yet. I have been providing two seasonal sweets for a Kimono shop’s Matcha Bar every month for the last three years so I would like to pick some of the sweets that had received great feedback from their paying customers. A few sweets definitely on my list are Sweet Rose, Apples, Mochi Mont Blanc and Matcha Swirl Mochi so far. Purple Sweet Potato Mochi might be chosen too. I am also going to take one brand new very seasonal sweet I just created with very Christmassy decoration.
This post became a much delayed report but last month I had an opportunity to hold another ‘Wagashi’ Japanese Sweet Making Workshop in London. This time it was at the very posh lovely Tea speciality shop My Cup of Tea which is located near Piccadilly Circus. Maybe because it was a weekday and also in the early evening we had two male enthusiasts amongst female participants. It is great to see many people from both gender getting to know about Japanese sweets culture and being interested in even making them.
Wagashi Making Workshop in London October 2018
The theme of the sweets we made in the Workshop was Flowers. I planned to make three sweets that are visually pretty but not too complicated to produce for beginners. After a short introduction the workshop commenced.
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.