The Art of Japanese Food 2: Wagashi

As we said in our article before about Japanese food, it is an Art! In our last article, we talk about Washoku, Japanese traditional savory food. They show how balance their food and the meaning behind it. Full of philosophy and really show the Japanese as a country. 

Apparently not just on savory food, Japan has a great sweets food that is known as Wagashi. It is known as Japanese Traditional Sweets and typically enjoyed in combination with a cup of green tea. Let’s get to know more about Wagashi!

Wagashi History

The term of Wagashi (和菓子) born during the Meiji era (1868-1912), the era of rapid modernization and westernization of Japanese culture. Originally, Japan doesn’t have any dessert or sweets food as a dessert. They used to just eat fruits as their desserts. In fact, the word for sweets, Kashi (菓子), originally referred to fruits and nuts.

Because of western and China influence, Japan start to make their own sweets and referred to as Wagashi (Wa means Japanese and Gashi means Sweets). With the increasing sugar trade between China and Japan, sugar became a common household ingredient by the end of the Muromachi period. The demand and production of Wagashi exploded during the Edo period (1603-1867).

What’s Inside of Wagashi?

They are made in a wide variety of shapes and consistencies and with diverse ingredients and preparation methods. Some are popular across the country and around the year while others are only available regionally or seasonally. It depends on the region and the people who made it. This is what makes it so unique and art, because through the food you can know Japan better.

Since sugar is not their main ingredient, they usually using Azuki bean paste, mochigome, kinako, and their local fruits as their ingredients. Back again depends on the region, for example, Okinawa’s Wagashi used Okinawa Brown Sugar as their ingredient since the Edo period. Edo period surely makes big changes in Wagashi and as we know now Japanese Traditional Sweets.

Here are some of the most common wagashi types that tourists are likely to encounter: Namagashi, Daifuku, Dango, Dorayaki, Taiyaki, Manju, Anmitsu, Oshiruko, Yokan, and Monaka.

Beautiful Wagashi, like an Art

Not just the story behind it, ingredients, and taste that make Japanese Traditional Sweets so special. They even look so beautiful and eyes pleasing! Wagashi usually serve together in the tea ceremony. That’s why they need to look so beautiful too. Japanese Traditional Food indeed a living art!

Have you tried some Wagashi? Do you think you will eat them even though so beautiful like art? Either way, we are so amazed by the Japanese Food 🙂

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