Wagashi saga. Full edition.

DSC01074-002mikan daifuku

The Japanese are sweet lovers. Now, all sorts of Western and Asian sweets can be found in big cities, and there are many talented bakers.

Wagashi means “Japanese sweets”, and it refers to the snack, usually sweet, served with tea. Eating desserts is not the custom. You eat lunch at 11~12 , then at 3 pm, you have a sweet with tea.

murasaki hanamame

The bulk of wagashi are made on a base of 2 ingredients : rice and azuki beans. And the artisans carve hundreds of refined designs -inspired by nature and seasonal events. So you may have the impression that they all taste the same and are only decorative. Actually, even in traditional shops, there exist many other flavors, sesame, roast soy beans, sweet potato, nuts, yuzu, chestnut, ume plum, cherry blossom, matcha, dry fruits, cassia cinnamon…
I have no ambition to compete in refinement of making with the famous shops. I have them on occasions, not too often as the quality ones are not cheap. Making my snacks is mostly a hobby and a way to avoid the supermarket range ones.
My home-made wagashi don’t always follow the traditional recipes, but I try to indicate when I adapt. Usually, I want mines to be less sweetened.


Sweet pastes
There are several sweet pastes called “an”.
“anko” the most common is made of red azuki beans. Other beans are used too, white for “shiro an”, and also red, yellow, black…
“kimi-an” is yellow and egg flavored. “kuri-an” is made with chestnut. Etc

Cooking azuki beans

Making anko (brown filling) from the beans. Tsubuan and koshian. Easy recipe.

Making kimi-an (yellow filling, with egg)

Rice, rice flour, processed rice flours

Making o-hagi, the basic wagashi (from rice)

Making daifuku mochi from mochiko (from mochi flour)

Making kashiwa-mochi (from joshinko rice flour)

Other flours

kuzu, kudzu :
warabi (bracken) :
warabi mochi
agar agar :

Home-made wagashi



Gold and Chestnut : kuri kinton

Kuri, the sweet (2nd style of kuri kinton)

Kinako-bo and mugi-cha

Polka-dot kabocha yokan

Making o-hagi

Mizu-yokan and nashi

After-Eight Daifuku Mochi

Choco-coco hari-nezumi



Azuki filled “sweet potato”


Ichigo daifuku mochi

Zenzai with yaki-mochi

Ginger kuzu-yu


choco-chip matcha-an daifuku

Tokoroten cherry…

Kimi-an dango, Japanese sweets like pearls of gold

Tamago-chan, cute egg wagashi



Lemon snow-flake mochi

Mochinnamon bun

Cubes of refreshment : heart-heaven in black sweetness


Okinawan mochi

warabi mochi (classic recipe)

ichigo-dama (strawberry pearls)


Setsubun (start of Spring festival)

Casual tea.

About wagashi and mochi from the shop… (Summer)

Yatsuhashi for sakura season (from the shop)

Assorted Spring wagashi (from the shop)

Kashiwa-mochi for Children Day, May 5th (from the shop)

okaki mochi

noshi mochi

Other dessert compilations :

Crazy and Healthy Sweets (compilation)

French desserts – Dessert francais (compilation)

Wagashi saga 3 : The origines. O-hagi.

Let’s make the most basic wagashi (Japanese sweet) and probably one of the most ancient. O-hagi, ohagi, hagimochi. O is a sort of prefix-article often used for food, you can omit it sometimes. Hagi is a purple clover flower, abundant in Autumn… well now.
So it’s an Autumn sweet… that is eaten year round, they change the name and shape slightly.

For the most basic, you need only 3 ingredients :
-mochi-gome (sticky rice)
-azuki beans
-sugar, or honey, or syrup

Sugar was not a commodity in old times, and it’s possible non-sweetened versions existed. This wagashi is one of the less sweetened.

Proportions :
For a dozen (hand palm size), you need 1 cup (200ml) of uncooked rice and 1/2 cup (200 ml) of uncooked beans. Sugar, as you like…

A photo of the sticky rice, and the same next to normal rice. It’s a different cultivar. That’s not impossible to make your ohagi with normal rice, but taste will not be so sweet and texture is probably more difficult to work. As sticky rice is a little long to cook, many recipes mix 1/3 of uruchi (regular Japanica) rice and 2/3 of mochigome sticky rice, in order to cook it in the normal rice-cooker program.

Day 1 : (5 minutes)
Rinse and soak (separately) the azuki beans and the rice.
Day 2 : (15 minutes + 1 hour)
Put the azuki in a big pasta pot, or a pressure cooker, with plenty of water. Bring to a boil. Take away the white foam. Then cook until the beans are tender. Discard the excess of water (or use for another recipe).
Cook the rice in the “sticky rice program” (okowa) of the rice cooker. Or place the rice in a cheese cloth or any big strainer, place that in a steam basket on top of boiling water. You can sprinkle water on the rice every 15 minutes (or not if you are not there). I think you need 30 to 45 minutes if your rice is well soaked and you sprinkle, otherwise 1 hour.

You obtain this :


Add the sweetener you want to the beans. Pound roughly the 2 ingredients in mortars (you can do that in a salad bowl and mash with a fork).

Prepare a plate, a spoon and a bowl of salted cold water.

Purple ohagi :
Wet your hands, take 1/2 golf ball of rice, shape as a small ball. Roll it in the beans, make a round shape.

White ohagi :
Wet your hands, take a golf ball of rice, shape it as a big circle. Garnish with 1/2 golf ball of beans (use the spoon) and close the rice around it.

Yellow ohagi (a variation) :
Prepare a bowl of kinako (roast soy bean powder), mix it with icing sugar if you like sweet (I didn’t). Make a white ohagi and roll it in kinako.


Other variations exist, the famous are :
-sesame, white or black, powdered or whole seeds
-sunda (edamame paste) instead of azuki-an
-ao nori (flakes of green seaweed)

If you cut or bite them :

So here, you have the home-made ancestor. It goes well with matcha (ceremony tea).
Or serve it with houji-cha or kyo-bancha (roasted teas that are popular in Autumn).

Wagashi Saga : Photo-menu of all Japanese sweet posts.