One aspect of Japanese cuisine less familiar in the West is the fine art of traditional Japanese confectionery. Whereas Western-style cakes, pastries and cookies -- known in Japan as yôgashi 洋菓子 -- are designed to be stand-alone desserts or kiddie treats, Japanese confections (wagashi 和菓子) are originally intended for use in the tea ceremony. Since the ceremonial matcha tea is rather strong and bitter, wagashi are almost always cloyingly sweet and moist to better contrast the tea's flavor.

Ingredients

Nearly all wagashi use one or both of these two fundamental ingredients:

There are no substitutes for anko or mochi, and they form the essence of Japanese confectionery. Nearly everything else is just for decoration or for subtly varying the flavor:

Confections

The following covers only a small fraction of the more popular categories of wagashi:

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