Wagashi is the name for traditional Japanese dessert (sweets). They are usually made with ingredients like the red bean paste and mochi (Japanese rice cake). Desserts have been part of Japanese lifestyle for centuries now even before sugar became widely available. Unique desserts were developed with basic ingredients being rice and sweet beans (anko [sweet paste of mashed azuki beans]).
With the increased affordability of sugar around the 1860s, Japanese desserts grew in number with many desserts being imported from western traditions. Below are some of Japan’s popular desserts. Their history can be traced back for hundreds of years.
It is a non-sticky rice cake that has been soaked in lye and wrapped in a skin of bamboo also soaked in lye, usually left overnight. It has no taste and is usually blended sugar or soaked in honey with a little salt before eaten.
It is a wagashi made by filling gyūhi (a soft form of mochi) with bean jam. Sugar is then sprinkled over it. It looks like dried persimmon.
It is a Japanese dessert that is usually found during Japanese festivals. It is prepared of batter in a special pan that is filled with sweet azuki bean paste. Nowadays, other fillings could be vanilla custard, fruit custards vegetables, potato, meats and mayonnaise.
It is a mochi cake made of kuzuko (starched powder made from the root of kudzu plant). It is served chilled with kuromitsu (Japanese sugar syrup known as black honey) and kinako (roasted soybean flour).
It is a sweet made of azuki bean jam. It is sandwiched between two thin crisp wafers baked from mochi. It can also be made from sesame seed, rice cake or chestnuts.
It is a type of Wagashi that is used in Japanese tea ceremony. It contains fruit jellies and gelatines like Kanten (sweetened bean paste). It is designed using seasonal and natural motifs like leaves and flowers.
7. Red bean paste or Adzuki bean paste
This is a dark red sweet bean paste made by boiling and mashing adzuki beans. The paste is then sweetened with sugar or honey.
It is a Japanese sweet prepared from non-glutinous rice flour sugar and hot water. It is usually dyed red, kneaded and shaped by a sushi rolling mat.
9. Uirō or Uirō-mochi
It is a traditional steamed cake prepared from rice flour and sugar. It is chewy and subtly sweet. It is similar to mochi and flavors like azuki bean paste, matcha (green tea) strawberry, yuzu and chestnuts can be included.
It is a fish-shaped cake with red bean paste made from sweetened azuki beans as a common filling. Other fillings include custard, cheese, chocolate and sweet potato.
It is a jelly-like confection prepared from bracken starch. It is usually covered or dipped in kinako. It is popular in summertime in the Kansai region and Okinawa.
This is a confectionery sold as a souvenir sweet (miyagegashi). It is made from glutinous rice flour, sugar and cinnamon. It is baked.
It is a Japanese Dessert made from red bean paste, agar and sugar. It is thick and jelly-like, sold in a block form and sliced before eaten.
14. Daifukumochi or Daifuku
It is a confection made of a small round mochi and stuffed with sweet filling like anko and sweetened red bean paste. It comes in many varieties with the most common being white, pale green or pale pink-colored mochi filled with anko.
It is a rice cake made of mochigome. Mochigome is a short-grain japonica glutonous rice. A paste is made from pounding rice and molded in various shapes. It is eaten year-round though very common during the Japanese New Year.