"Wagashi" (和菓子) is the name for traditional Japanese sweets. And in Kyoto, those confectionaries are an artform.
As noted by website Spoon & Tamago, Kyoto-based photographer Hajime Nakamura has been taking photos of beautiful wagashi—as well as the nature that inspired them. The resulting comparisons are truly inspiring.
Eating in Japan is a highly visual activity. Color is incredibly important, and the way something looks is not overlooked, especially in traditional cuisine. Even for homecooking, you'll hear Japanese people say they added a certain garnish to balance out the color.
Likewise, food texture is valued, as well. In the sweets below, you'll see a variety of textures. If you have never had wagashi, it's soft. This isn't hard candy. These are eaten with tea. Inside each sweet, there is typically bean paste.
If you are familiar with traditional Japanese design, you'll notice flowers or other elements of nature that often find their way into motifs on kimonos, tableware, and more. You can see lotus flowers, peonies, and the moon. For centuries and even today, the seasons and nature are incredibly important to the Japanese and have found their way into art and poetry. It's only natural that that they'd appear in sweets.
For most of the sweets, it's easy to tell what they are representing. Others, like these bamboo blind-inspired ones might be slightly more abstract:
Let's have a look at some more of Mr. Nakamura's wonderful photos:
Earlier this year, Mr. Nakamura released a photobook, simply called Wagashi. It is in Japanese and English, and it is available on Amazon. If you like these photos, I'd imagine you'd like his book as well.
You can also follow Mr. Nakamura on Twitter or see more beautiful Kyoto photos on his website. There are also more photos below on Spoon & Tamago.
Kyo-Otoko [Hajime Nakamura's Website]
Kyoto photographer uncovers the inspiration behind Japan's most beautiful sweets [Spoon & Tamago]
To contact the author of this post, write to bashcraftATkotaku.com or find him on Twitter @Brian_Ashcraft.
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