JAPAN SOCIETY . 333 East 47th St., New York, NY 10017
I was thrilled to attend a lecture at the Japan Society for Wagashi: Japanese Confections, Seasonal Treats (co-organized by the Japan Foundation). Wagashi are traditional Japanese sweets that are eaten during special occasions and tea ceremonies. During the two and a half hour event I sat through a lecture by Keiko Nakayama who wrote her thesis on the design of wagashi and is the archivist of Japan's Toraya Confectionery Archive. She explained the history of wagashi (which began in 1600) and its transition into contemporary times.
Wagashi designs reflect the seasons and are beautiful works of art. They come in various forms including handmade seasonal cakes, yokan (thick jelly made from azuki bean paste,) Monaka (azuki bean filled sandwiches,) Manju (steamed bun treats,) and Higashi (dried sweets made from glutinous rice flour, sugar, starch and pressed into molds.) Click here to view some examples.
There was also a live demonstration by Toraya craftsmen Kazuhiko Furumaki and Hiroki Yoritomi!
If you'd like to try wagashi here are two locations where you can purchase them:
Minamoto Kitchoan at the New York Fifth Avenue Store | 608 Fifth Ave, New York, NY 10020
Mitsuwa Marketplace | 595 Rive Rd., Edgewater, NJ 07020