In Japan, food is beautiful. Wagashi is, anyway. According to Wikipedia, wagashi, which is “traditional Japanese confections that are often served with tea, especially the types made of mochi, anko (azuki bean paste), and fruits,” are usually made from plant-based items. Wagashi are not only delicious, but also lovely to look at. Some could even be referred to as artistic.
“(Wagashi) are works of art designed to appeal to all the senses with their appearance, flavor, aroma, feel, and the sounds of their names.” — JapanGov
5 Fun Facts About Japanese Wagashi
The first wagashi were created at the end of the Edo period (between 1603 and 1868) in Japan. Here are five other fun facts about these Japanese confections:
- “Wagashi are classified according to the production method and moisture content. Moisture content is very important, since it affects shelf life.”
- The shape and design of wagashi portray seasons.
- Wagashi are sometimes referred to as “art of the five senses.”
- Wagashi are made from fruit, grains, agar, and sugar.
- “Wagashi started out as rustic sweetmeats, such as rice cakes and dumplings made from kneaded flour. But the impact of trade with China, Portugal and Spain, etc., and the fusion of wagashi into the culture of sado (tea ceremony), have led to their current sophisticated form,” stated Developing the Art of the 5 Senses.
Wagashi Beautifully Represent the Seasons
The most amazing thing about wagashi is how intricately designed they are. As stated above, wagashi portray winter, spring, summer, and fall. “One by one, each little cake sets a seasonal scene – fish swimming in a clear stream; an atrium of stars shining in the night sky; a sparkling, sunlit shore, and so on,” wrote a contributor to Trends in Japan. These tiny confections have a special place in the heart of Japanese culture, and they express the delicate, artistic beauty of the country.
“(Wagashi are) a traditional Japanese sweet made of bean paste, rice and fruits. The preparation of the sweet has evolved into an art form. These artful creations are traditionally served during the tea ceremony to complement the bitter matcha tea. They are very delicate and are tinted and sculpted into various shapes and styles.” — 5 Interesting Facts from the Japanese Tea Ceremony
Find out more about wagashi in Google Arts and Culture’s The Mark of Beauty: Wagashi, Japanese Sweets.
In some cases, food is art. Those who expertly craft wagashi aren’t just cooks; they are also artists. Have you ever had wagashi? What did you think of it?
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