When you come across Minako Asai’s wagashi at a market in Victoria, you are immediately drawn. Your eyes first catch a glimpse of the bright colours, but as you approach, you notice all the gorgeous shapes and intricate details.
Wagashi is a type of Japanese confectionery with a long history. Originally served as an accompaniment to matcha and green tea, it’s now also eaten for dessert, during celebrations and offered as gifts. It usually only counts a few ingredients like white bean paste, mochi, sugar and adzuki bean paste. The design is not only pretty – it’s also inspired by nature through the seasons and art.
For Asai, who grew up in the Japanese city of Nagoya, the sweets are a reminder of her childhood. “There’s something nostalgic for me about wagashi. I had it first when I was four and I couldn’t forget the taste,” she tells SBS Food.