Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Making Japanese Sweets

Recently I was treated to an experience with my school's newspaper club. They asked me to accompany them to a tourist center in Kanazawa, where we would be making traditional Japanese sweets, known as wagashi. 

These sweets are typically served with matcha green tea. The super sweet taste of the small confection balances the bitter nature of the strong tea. They are known for being extremely delicate, beautifully crafted and designed to represent nature. They are made out of sweetened red bean paste and though they are very sweet, they are low in fat because there is no butter or other dairy ingredients. The pastes are made into different colors and essentially become a clay that can be manipulated into shapes and designs. 

For my partner and I, it was our first time attempting to form these sweets. She was trying to keep up with the instructions as well as translate to me at the same time. All the while the newspaper photographer was taking our photos, documenting our process.

We each got to form three of the sweet treats, with materials  prepared for us. Though not a very artistic person, I enjoyed rolling the sweet paste in my gloved hands doing my best to for it like the exampled showed. The experience contained at least 25 other people, who would many times ohh and ahh at the fun facts announced by instructor. I had to rely on my sight for much of the experience, which was easy because a detailed view of his method was being filmed live and broadcast on TVs in the room. Though in addition to that, in short quick English and hand gestures, I had three of my high school students translating and showing me the way.

On the building's  2nd floor there was a tea shop which provided a place to enjoy the sweets you had just made with a cup of match tea. They invited me to enjoy this experience as well. The six of us shared the sweets that the two of us had just made, as well as the lovely, frothy matcha tea.