Wagashi is traditionally made by hand. No machines are used in the process, and this is another method of preserving the traditions of making wagashi. There are multiple tools used in making wagashi. There is a pencil like tool, a grater called a toushi, a pair of chop sticks, and a handkerchief. Making wagashi reminded me of when I was a child because molding and rolling the bean paste between my hands is similar to paying with play dough. The difference is that at the end you can actually eat it! Each participant had a set of tools, two prepared azuki bean clumps and an already made wagashi called wakakusa. We were to make 2 wagashi based on the bud of a peony and daffodils. Traditionally, wagashi are made to look like objects of nature.
I tried my best to mimic the actions of Mr. Aoto, but as would be expected, I made multiple mistakes. It looks simple, but using your hands to make wagashi requires a mastery of subtle movements and applying pressure to give it shape. Additionally, the sleeves of my kimono kept getting in the way. I asked Mr. Aoto about how many years it takes to master making wagashi. He said, “when making wagashi you don’t say it takes 3 or 5 years to master it. Rather than the number of years you do it, effort is what is important.” In the end I was able to mold the play dough-like bean paste into something that resembled the bud of a peony and a daffodil in the grass. Though I was not able to make the most beautiful of wagashi, I was still able to enjoy its signature sweet, but not too sweet taste. It is a rare opportunity to make wagashi, and to be able to do so in Matsue, the castle town known for wagashi and the tea ceremony, was an experience I will not soon forget.
This web page introduces the remarks and comments written by CIR (Coordinator of International Relations) of Shimane Prefectural Government who experienced Japanese Culture.