A long-established Kyoto confectionery shop is selling these do-it-yourself kits with simple video instructions.

Our sweets-loving Japanese language correspondent K. Masami couldn’t wait to try her hand at making wagashi, traditional Japanese-style sweets typically made from mochi and red bean paste. She’d caught wind that well-established Kyoto-based confectionery Tawaraya Yoshitomi (俵屋吉富), founded in 1755, was selling homemade wagashi kits (手作り和菓子キット) for only 1,080 yen (US$10.40), so she promptly ordered one and waited with bated breath for it to arrive.

▼ Tawaraya Yoshitomi offers some incredibly cute seasonal confectioneries.


Apparently the DIY kits often sell out, so Masami felt quite lucky to have ordered hers without issue. The particular type of wagashi that she would be making was called namagashi (生菓子), which are made using fairly fresh ingredients and have a high moisture content.

▼ Finally, the package with her kit arrived.

The kit came with the base ingredients and instructions for making two lovely flower-shaped namagashi: a Japanese red apricot blossom (kobai/紅梅, sometimes called a Japanese plum blossom in English) and a daffodil (suisen/水仙). By scanning the QR codes on the packaging, she was taken to YouTube demonstration videos that she could watch while sculpting.

▼ The base ingredients were helpfully pre-portioned and already colored.

Masami followed the video and began by stretching and shaping the mochi like dough. She quickly learned that it wasn’t hard to do, but it was hard to do well as a novice. She decided to tackle the red apricot blossom first.

So hers might not have come out looking like the most delicate flowers ever…

▼ Folding a chunk of red bean paste inside

▼ Actually, that doesn’t look half bad!

Next up was the daffodil. How would she fare with this one?

▼ Carefully sculpting petal ridges

Masami freely admitted that the daffodil in particular came out looking more like a carnivorous plant with very large orange lips. In fact, it resembled a comical cartoon flower more so than the real thing.

She didn’t give herself high points…but she was having a lot of fun, and that’s what mattered.

▼ Her completed creations

▼ For the record, there was nothing wrong with the taste.

After finishing the flowers she realized that there happened to be some leftover ingredients. What if she were to experiment by making her very own original wagashi…?! Something star-shaped and with eyes should be cute.

▼ TA-DA!

…It wouldn’t be winning any artistic confectionery awards, but kids should love it.

As a closing note, Masami mentions that if not for the coronavirus, Tawaraya Yoshitomi would normally offer a wagashi kitchen open to the public in which the pros demonstrate techniques in front of an audience. The staff currently don’t know when they’ll be able to resume such live demonstrations, but in the meantime they hope that you can experience a bit of the fun through these homemade wagashi kits.

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