Wagashi – The Adorable Traditional Japanese Sweets

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Wagashi – The Adorable Traditional Japanese Sweets

Wagashi (和菓子) are traditional Japanese sweets that are typically enjoyed in combination with a cup of green tea, especially the types made of mochi, anko (azuki bean paste) and fruits. Wagashi are typically made from plant-based ingredients. They are completely different from their counterparts found in other countries. Usually less sweet, they match perfectly with a cup of green tea for a sublime Japanese teatime.

Wagashi - The Adorable Traditional Japanese Sweets

1. Mochi

You’ve probably heard of mochi before, a contender for the softest material on this earth. In wagashi this super springy rice cake is used in many different ways. For spring, sakura mochi is a must-try, a treat flavoured like the season’s famed cherry blossoms. Warabi mochi is another common type of mochi which is covered in roasted soybean flour. Daifuku is a very thin layer of mochi covering sweet red bean paste or cream and fruit. Strawberry daifuku, a whole strawberry wrapped in mochi is a truly blissful combination.

Wagashi - The Adorable Traditional Japanese Sweets

2. Taiyaki

Anime fans will definitely have seen this one before. These fish shaped pancakes not only look cute but are delicious too. Red bean paste is the usual filling, but if you prefer something sweeter, alternatives like custard are also available. Some vendors even get extra creative with the flavours!


3. Dango

Rice dumplings on a skewer, dango is made from sweet rice flour and has a similar chewy texture to mochi, but with a bit more bite. With its distinctive 3 different coloured rice balls on a stick, hanami dango is an icon of spring. This treat is best enjoyed while sitting under some beautiful cherry blossoms. But apart from that, dango can come in many other forms. These common street snacks can be made either savoury or sweet.

Wagashi - The Adorable Traditional Japanese Sweetsv

4. Daifuku

Daifuku is generally a mochi ball filled with sweetened red bean paste made from either red or white beans, although this is sometimes replaced by seasonal fruit. A popular winter specialty is the ichigo daifuku — a mochi ball topped with a strawberry.

Wagashi - The Adorable Traditional Japanese Sweets

5. Dorayaki

Dorayki is like a pancake made from two castella cakes, sandwiching red bean paste filling. The original dorayaki consisted of just one layer (boo!) but thankfully in the end the dorayaki shops started doubling down to give the filling treat we can enjoy today. Not just red bean paste, you can find other flavours like this matcha cream and strawberry filling.

Wagashi - The Adorable Traditional Japanese Sweets

6. Manju

Manju have a cakey outside layer and a sweet centre, usually (you guessed it) red bean paste. Sometimes the outer part is flavoured with matcha. One of the most popular varieties is the momiji manju which is shaped like a Japanese maple leaf and is a famous souvenir from Hiroshima. These buns can be formed into many different shapes and sizes before being baked or steamed.

Wagashi - The Adorable Traditional Japanese Sweets

7. Yokan

A traditional jelly, yokan is made by mixing red or white beans with sugar and a type of seaweed gelatin substance known as agar. The ingredients are hardened into a block and served in slices. The texture is similar to a paste and it can often be seen as part of tea ceremony. Mizu yokan contains more water which gives it a more translucent appearance and jelly-like texture.

Wagashi - The Adorable Traditional Japanese Sweets

8. Nerikiri

These are definitely the most aesthetically impressive of all the wagashi. Nerikiri are made from a dough formed by white bean paste and mochi, they can be easily coloured and moulded into various shapes to create sweet confections to express the seasons. Often this takes the form of flowers. Buying a batch of these as souvenirs is sure to impress everyone back home!

Wagashi - The Adorable Traditional Japanese Sweets

9. Rakugan

Wagashi - The Adorable Traditional Japanese Sweets

A dry form of wagashi, rakugan are small hard candies made from glutinous rice flour and sugar, which are then shaped witha wooden mould. Highly intricate, these dainty sweets have a cookie-like texture that melts in your mouth. They pair well with a bitter tea.

 

 

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