Yesterday, the 22nd of September, was the Autumnal Equinox Day this year. One week period around that day is called ‘Higan’ in Japan and people cleanse ourselves spiritually by doing right things and cleaning ancestors’ graves.
On the culinary side of this tradition during the week we have sweets called ‘Ohagi’. It is a mochi type sweet with half pounded sweet rice with ‘Azuki’ sweet red bean paste. Some of them are flavoured and decorated with ‘Kinako’ toasted soyabean powder, green seaweed or black sesame seeds.
I love Ohagi and can eat 2-3 pieces of them easily all one go! It is normally quite big and filling, and for the people who’d like to try all the flavours for a teatime it might be a little hard. So I made a version of all three types of sweets on one skewer! In this way everyone can taste all the flavours. 🍡
Do you know Mochi? Have you eaten any before? Mochi is one of the recent phenomena in the Japanese food industry that became very popular in the world all of a sudden as a surprise. It’s a soft gooey rice cake that was made by pounding glutinous rice. It can be either sweet or savoury and also hot or cold.
The best know Mochi in the western countries is the one with ice cream inside and the other type is with a fresh Strawberry and sweet bean paste wrapped up inside the Mochi sheet. This Strawberry ‘Daifuku’ Mochi is one of my favourites, however, it is not just strawberry that the Mochi goes so well with. You can have all sorts of juicy fresh fruit in a Mochi.
Here is my creation of Raspberry Mochi to show you that. I selected juicy but firm raspberries and filled them with smooth raspberry sauce. I wrapped them up carefully with a sheet of sweet and soft Mochi.
This Raspberry Mochi is one of my regular products when I have a market stall that I know people love. I was planning to have a stall in a big Japanese culture market in June and it was sadly cancelled unfortunately of course because of the pandemic.
However, a great news for the people who live in London is that you can get two of my Wagashi Japanese sweets at the moment. This Raspberry Mochi is one of them and I received great feedback already from the customers. They are served at the Havan Store (262 Kensington High St, London W8 6ND). You are not allowed to walk into the shop yet but you can get a takeaway.
The Havan is located right next to Holland Park so how about getting some sweets and their gorgeous Matcha tea as a takeaway and have a lovely teatime in the park. 😋💕
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.
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!
🎍 Happy New Year! 🎍
Wish you all have a wonderful year and the world becomes much peaceful!
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.
When the last month of the year arrives, I always become much busier than any other season. It’s because December is the month for the Christmas Market. I have been getting a stall in a local Market since 2012, but this year I had a chance to join to other stall holders in another Japanese Market at the end of November.
Dear Wagashi Lovers in London!
There is something I’d like to announce with my great pleasure. Sakura Junction’s sweets have been back on the shelves! Since the Kimono shop which was serving my sweets for three years had sadly closed down a year ago, I was asked many times by the Wagashi lovers where they could get my sweets. Except on some occasions when I sell my sweets in a market stall, none were available to buy for the general public. However, now I can tell you that my sweets are back on shelves in London.
That is at The Havan Store (262 Kensington High Street, W8 6ND London) which is an Ethical Lifestyle boutique they have just started serving my sweets at their Matcha Tea Bar from this month.
So the first ‘Wagashi’ sweets at their Matcha Bar is Japanese Maple that I have introduced in my previous post. In the shop you can have the sweet with their Matcha tea which has something significant about. I’ve had Matcha tea in several places but their one is very special and memorable. It’s very smooth which is almost cream-like. I took a Matcha enthusiast to this shop and she was so amazed and loved it.
The shop’s ethical theme is another thing that I like about this shop. You will find something unusual and interesting to you.
My Japanese Maple sweet (Vegan & Gluten Free) is available at the Havan store during November. Enjoy! 🍁
How time flies! Right after posting the report of the Halloween themed Workshop it is already time to announce the workshop for December. Since it will be in December the theme of the workshop is Christmas, I’ve been considering what kind of Japanese sweets I should make with the participants?
I always take a lot of time to decide the sweet designs to make with workshop attendees. I consider many elements such as if the design is seasonal, and if is too simple or too difficult for first time attendees.
Wagashi Making Workshop in December
Before finalising the three sweets, I tried several designs. I wanted to make a Christmas Tree. I have made several types of Tree in the past but never made one in the workshop yet. When I was thinking about the possibilities, I suddenly got a brilliant idea. I was very excited and was confident that it would go well, but when I tried making it, it was far too difficult to create the shape.
on: the 1st / December (Sunday), 13:00 – 15:00
at: The Havan (262 Kensington High Street, London W8 6ND)
So we will make these three sweets. If the attendees would want to go more creative they can decorate the tree with any shapes such as an angel, Christmas sock, candle or present boxes.
The sweets we will make are all Vegan and Gluten free.
We continue having the Havan Store as the venue since it is a very beautiful and comfortable space with very hospitable owners who are interested in Japanese culture. I was pleased to see that all the participants in the previous workshop loved the shop and their thick and creamy special Matcha green tea.
[The tickets] for this workshop are available now from here (←click here to the Link). The class is limited to 10 people only so don’t miss out on this great opportunity!
I have mentioned about the 13 years old girl who wanted to join us for the Halloween workshop. I am very happy to tell you that she is joining us with her mother for this Christmas one. It is going to be another great one! If you would like to join us, small number of seats still available.
What I like about Japanese sweets is that they are so seasonal. The colour, design and ingredients are all reflecting the season. For instance in spring we create lots of Sakura Cherry blossom sweet and in November it is officially Autumn so we make sweets of Autumn colour.
‘Momiji’ Japanese Maple
One of the most famous plant leaves in Autumn colour is the Japanese Maple. It is called ‘Momiji’ in Japanese and is famous for its leaves having the beautiful shape with the most delicate cut and it changes the colour into a very vivid red colour amongst all Acer family.