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Edible Art Candy

Updated: Nov 21, 2023

Japan has a little known traditional sweet called Wagashi. These candies come in a variety of beautiful shapes, colors, and flavors rarely seen outside of Japan. Wagashi are often paired with a cup of green tea, and some styles are only made local, while others are well-liked.

At their core, the Japanese delicacies have the sweet azuki bean paste (Anko) as a primary ingredient. Azuki beans are boiled, sweetened with sugar, and then either made into smooth Anko (Koshian) or chunky Anko by being mashed (Tsubuan). Rice cakes (Mochi), rice flour, Japanese agar (kanten), sesame paste, and chestnuts are additional typical Wagashi ingredients.

My favorite Wagashi is Sakura Mochi. As you can tell, you usually have them in springtime. It has pink-colored chunky mochi and Koshian inside, and it’s wrapped around with a salted Sakura leaf. I also love Ohagi, which is fall Wagashi. It has chunky mochi inside and is wrapped with Anko. I love the one covered with Kinako power. Those Wagashi are some of the most common ones and can be found in almost any specialty store. I was surprised to learn that a good friend of mine from the countryside of Nagano where the winter Olympic games were held once, has never gotten Wagashi from a store. She and her family made all of them at home. I remember her saying that her grandmother was the best chef and made miso, soba, and local mochi dishes all year long.

Okay, getting back to Wagashi: Each have a unique scent, texture, and beautiful seasonal design. Since the candies were originally made for tea ceremonies, Wagashi designs can be simply exquisite.


One of the well-known female confectionery artisans is Ms. Shiwon Sakamoto. Her Wagashi art is so unique, its almost too beautiful to eat! Ms. Shiwon’s designs are inspired by daily life, including the gleaming water's surface, the sound of rain, the smell of the wind, the twittering of birds, and the dazzling moon. Check out her workshops and videos. Her creation, and video are here.

Go to my Food section to learn more about Japanese sweets.

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