Wagashi
Hotaru wagashi.jpg
Hotaru (firefly) wagashi
TypeConfectionery
Place of originJapan

Wagashi (和菓子, wa-gashi) are traditional Japanese confections that are often served with green tea, especially the types made of mochi, anko (azuki bean paste), and fruit. Wagashi are typically made from plant-based ingredients.[1]

History

A bowl of matcha tea on a black lacquered tray with wagashi
A bowl of matcha tea on a black lacquered tray with wagashi

In Japan, the word for sweets, kashi (菓子), originally referred to fruits and nuts.[2] With the increasing sugar trade between China and Japan, sugar became a common household ingredient by the end of the Muromachi period.[2] Influenced by the introduction of tea and dim sum, the creation of wagashi took off during the Edo period in Japan.[2]

Types

A selection of wagashi to be served during a Japanese tea ceremony
A selection of wagashi to be served during a Japanese tea ceremony
A plate of six wagashi
A plate of six wagashi
Wagashi served with matcha tea
Wagashi served with matcha tea

See also: List of Japanese desserts and sweets § Wagashi

Classification

Wagashi are classified according to the production method and moisture content. Moisture content is very important, since it affects shelf life.

Characteristics

Making wagashi typically takes a lot of work. They are usually named after poetry, historical events, or natural scenery.

Wagashi are known for their delicateness and variety in appearance, reflecting the delicacy culture of Japan.

They can be used as a gift during festivals, and can also be a daily treat for visiting guests. Different places have wagashi that are unique in flavor as their local specialty. Japanese people tend to take wagashi back home after business trips or personal trips.

Many Japanese believe that the artistic characteristics of wagashi represent both the season when the wagashi are made and the humble culture of Japan.

See also

References

  1. ^ Gordenker, Alice, "So What the Heck is That?: Wagashi", Japan Times, 20 January 2011, p. 11.
  2. ^ a b c Ashkenazi, Michael (2000). The Essence of Japanese Cuisine: An Essay on Food and Culture. University of Pennsylvania Press. pp. 106–107. ISBN 9780812235661. Retrieved Jan 30, 2013.
  3. ^ Japanese Confectionery Gratifies the Eyes and the Palate Aichi Voice Issue 7, 1997

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