Wagashi, which means Japanese sweets is usually made of starch syrup (or sugar), rice, wheat and (pasted red) bean – relatively few kinds of ingredients. It is often served with green tea, so it is sweet but free of oil and fat, and unlike western confectioneries, fruits are not normally used for wagashi.
The taste is of course very important for wagashi, but the appearance is also very much emphasized. Sometimes it is regarded even as art work.
Although the ingredients of wagashi are the same all year around, you can actually feel the season from the appearance and the taste. The above photo is Sakura Mochi, which literally means ” Cherry Rice Cake” – a rice cake filled with pasted red bean and wrapped with a pickled cherry leaf. It is available from mid February until early April, during the season of Girl’s day (Hinamatsuri – March 3rd) and the cherry blossoms . Usually wagashi is sold a bit ahead of the actual season. So if you go to Watashi shops right now, you’ll find another kind of wagashi.