Do you look forward to springtime? I can tell you that actually spring has just started according to the old lunisolar calendar. The period of the beginning of spring is called ‘Risshun’ in Japan and it’s between the 3rd – 18th February this year. I must say that Japanese are the nation who’d like to celebrate any seasonal occasions so of course we never miss the chance at this particular time of year, however, it’s not for the beginning of spring.
The one day before the beginning of spring is called ‘Setsubun’ (the 2nd /Feb this year). It’s not a national holiday, but rather significant day for most Japanese and there are a few customs we do on this day depending on the area. One of the customs widely done on this day is ‘Mame-maki’. It’s the getting rid of demons and bringing luck into the house ritual. Quite often one of the family members wears a demon face-mask and stands at the entrance of the house and other people throw roasted soybeans (peanuts in shell instead in some area) at him/her from inside the house by shouting ‘Oni wa soto! Fuku wa uchi!’ which means ‘Demon’s (Oni 👹) out! Luck gets in!’. Another popular custom is eating a futomaki sushiroll with seven fillings called ‘Ehoumaki’ by facing to a certain direction (it’s west-south-west this year).
Ehoumaki Sushirolls & Mame-maki Sweets
I created miniature versions of Ehoumaki sushirolls (cut version) and Soybeans in wooden cup for Mamemaki with Japanese sweets.
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.
A little Indian summer has come to London. The temperature has risen to around 28-9℃ for two to three days. I know it’s not any significant temperature for people who live in very hot weather. However, in the UK this summer was terrible. It suddenly became unbearably hot about 34 ℃+ in June that stopped me from doing anything outdoor or even indoor. Then after there were rainy-cold-miserable days that to last forever… But now in mid-September, finally very nice summer days are back to London.
Whenever we are in summer, there is Watermelon. This is the watermelon ‘Wagashi’ Japanese sweet I made this summer.
It’s made with lots of Watermelon juice which is gathered with agar powder. It’s a little similar to jelly but agar is made from seaweed and is vegetable based.
It’s Vegan and Gluten free.
Hope this comfortable little summer lasts longer.
Previously I introduced my Lacecap Hydrangea sweet and this one in another form of my Hydrangea sweet this year. It’s a rather traditional design for this flower as a Japanese sweet, however, I added something unconventional to it!
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!
I made Japanese sweet into a shape of one of the most string-like flowers ‘Tulip’.
How is your lockdown life going? The weather is so great in London this weekend.
Stay safe at home!💕
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.
Today the third of March is Hanamatsuri – Girls’ Day in Japan (Don’t worry, there is Boys’ day too). I have mentioned about this day in the past so if you are interested please read the articles in 2017 and 2018.
There are several traditional food/sweets we eat on this special day and Hishimochi is one of them. It is a diamond shaped sweet made with three coloured Mochi (in pink, white and green) place on top each other. In 2017 I made this Hishimochi sweet with steamed Japanese sweet instead using Mochi.
This year I made this Hina Mochi instead that is a Mochi type sweet I got inspired by Hishimochi. It is a round Mochi in the traditional Hishimochi tri-colours.
💕Happy Valentine’s Day!💕
What is significant for this day where your are? Valentine’s Day is the western idea to show how much you love your wife, husband, girlfriend and boyfriend. This was not a custom in Japan until the 1970’s when one chocolate company advertised that “it is the day a girl can tell her love to a boy by sending chocolates as the gift”. Since then the chocolate industry has been go crazy before Valentine’s day every year.
Chocolate Heart Mochi with Red Currant Jam
I made this Chocolate flavoured Mochi for Valentine’s Day this year.
It is a heart-shaped Japanese sweet with chocolate flavoured Mochi outer layer and sweet white bean paste and homemade red currant jam inside. For this special occasion it has the golden love potion powder sprinkled on top.
The Great thing is that you can taste this sweet at the Matcha Bar at the Havan Store (262 Kensington High Street, London). They will serve this sweet during February.
It’s Vegan and Gluten free.
Maybe love is like a Chocolate Mochi! 💕Have a wonderful Valentine’s Day!!💕