Wagashi, or Japanese confectionary is deeply related to the seasons, festivals, and occasions of Japan, and plays a vital role in the Japanese culture. The beautifully crafted confectionary is an art in and of itself. We would like to introduce to you the many wagashis that can be enjoyed thorough the year, and have started a series named “Wagashi Favorites”, posting one of our favorite wagashi every other week.
Today, I’d like to introduce you to a dreamy Wagashi named Haru-no-Yume, which translates into “spring dream,” from confectionary maker Oimatsu. Established in 1908, Oimatsu is one of the oldest establishments among Wagashi confectioners in Kyoto. It is still located in Kyoto’s oldest Geisha district, Kamishichiken, and to this day they are at the center of introducing Japanese culture through their beautiful Wagashi. Their seasonal Nama-gashi used for Japanese tea ceremonies are a pleasure to both the eye and the mouth. Each one crafted by hand with carefully selected ingredients , the confectionary is sometimes too beautiful to eat!! The colors and shapes vary according to each season, to express the beauty of nature.
As the Japanese anticipate the cherry blossom season long before they start blooming, we have traditionally enjoyed the coming of spring and the cherry blossoms through the Wagashi. Nowadays, mostly anything – from Starbucks’ cherry blossom lattes to cherry blossom labeled beer- is labeled in pink to celebrate the blooming of the cherry blossoms. Many Wagashi producers have a wide array of products to celebrate cherry blossom season, with subtle differences in the shades of pink that express the different stages of bloom.
Today’s Wagashi Favorite, the “spring dream,” is a two-layer delight. The bottom layer is made of yokan, which is a thick, jellied dessert made from white kidney bean paste, sugar. The top layer is made from agar, or kanten in Japanese. The delicate contrast in the different shades of pink and the gold dust & cherry blossom petals that seem to be swimming in the kanten really expresses the dreaminess of spring.
Oimatsu is headquartered in Kyoto, but it is also available in Tokyo.
Haru-no-Yume, “spring dream,” is available until March 14th at Isetan Shinjuku. Why not dream your way into spring with this elegant confectionary?