"Wagashi" are traditional Japanese confectioneries that are typically enjoyed
with a cup of green tea.
Among all kinds of wagashi, "namagashi" (meaning "fresh confectionary")
are artistically and carefully shaped by hand to reflect the nature in season.
春爛漫, Spring in full bloom
Namagashi is the one served at Tea Ceremony with bitter powdered green tea.
It must be eaten in a day because it is so fresh but perishable.
They contain more than 30 percent water and are made of rice flour,
sweet red, white, or green bean paste filling in general
and sometimes fruit jelly filling.
朧月夜, A hazy moon of spring
Each single ingredient is chosen carefully regarding texture, colors, shapes and so on.
In hot season, transparent kanten/agar is used to create coolnes like the "summer pond."
It is a namagashi served chilled in hot season.
Hydrangea, with iced green tea
Other namagashi; Crane, Peony, Chrythunthemum
and Unfurling nature of spring, clockwise.
Unfurling nature of spring
Apart from namagashi, there are many more casually eaten wagashi.
Many Japanese people feel like eating Sakura-mochi and/or
Uguisu/Japanese bush warbler-mochi through February to March
when people can hardly wait for the arrival of spring.
Sakura-mochi is warpped with slightly salted sakura leaf.
Uguisu-mochi is coated with bean flour.
(About Japanese bush warbler and uguisu-mochi, here.)
In Sakura season, various sweets suggestive of Sakura and spring are sold.
Red bean paste wrapped in "gyuhi", kind of soft rice cake,
is wrapped in pancake-like patty.
Kuri/chestnut is a dlicacy of autumn.
This Kuri manjyu is a bun stuffed with boiled-smashed-chesnut paste,
small pieces of chestnut and white bean jam.
"Daifuku" are made of soft rice cake and sweet white bean paste or other fillings.
They are covered with a light dusting of katakuri-root starch to keep them from sticking together.
(Lower right in the mosaic)
Daifuku should be eaten quickly as they become hard if left exposed to air.
Blueberry and tangerine daifukus.
"Monaka" consists of a wafer shell filled with sweet bean paste.
The wafer shells come in different shapes and sizes from simple, round shells
to more intricately designed ones.
The monaka below are specilaty of an established shop in my hometown, Kobe.
雪月花, snow, moon and flowers, is one of the basic concepts in traditional Japanese aesthetics.
Western sweets, which are mostly made of animal ingredients such as eggs,
butter, gelatine and milk, are high in fat.
On the other hand, Japanese sweets, of which ingredients are mainly vegetable
products such as rice, wheat, beans, fruits, agar and water, are low in fat
but tend to be high in sugar.
I like both Western and Japanese sweets and eat them with low GI black coffee.
Wagashi taste nice with not only green tea but also black coffee.
Linked to Mosaic Monday