Kashiwa mochi, Japanese sweet served on May 5th.

Guess what?

This is Kashiwa mochi. 

May 5th is Children's Day and a national holiday. The day was originally called Tango no Sekku and derived from China, but the contents has quite varied and the only similarity between Japan and China is to 
eat Zongzi, sweet rice cakes wrapped in a bamboo leaf.

In Japan, we celebrate the growth of children, especially boys on the day. Families having a or more sons puts up Koi-Nobori, a carp streamer for the celebration. It was originally a Japanese custom that started among samurai families in the Edo period. And they also display Kabuto, a military helmet as a symbol of strength and vitality. 

Kashiwa mochi is Japanese traditional sweet for the day. It is a rice cake with red bean paste inside wrapped in oak leaves, which are seen as a symbol of the prosperity of one's descendants.


Panda-shaped rice balls

I made a bento on weekdays for my daughter, as her school has no canteen. She is a small eater and can only eat a half bowl of rice at a meal. So I made 2 small panda-shaped rice balls with the amount of rice to let her enjoy a lunch time. The ears, eyes, nose, arms and legs are made of a sheet of laver, Nori.

I have some tools to make a lovely rice ball and a Kyaraben. Recently many Japanese mothers make it for their children and I think it is heartwarming. But some of them are too worried about its appearance. The most important is nutritionally balanced diet and processed food containing food addictives for the external appearance should be avoidable.


Wagashi, Japanese confectionery in autumn

As you know, Wagashi, Japanese confectionery reflects the change of four seasons and its beauty with the delicate sensibilities. This sensibilities are inseparable from Japanese culture and you can find them on its many areas; Tanka poem, the literature of the Heian period of Japan, the traditional colors of Japan, Haiku, Ukiyoe and so on. 

And it has also made the Japanese food culture develop and prosper richly. The most remarkable example is Wagashi. 

Kaki, a persimmon is one of representative fruits of autumn in Japan. Many Haiku poets composed a poet about it and it appears in many old folktales. We feel nostalgic whenever we look at it. It has something to make us relieved. Look at the picture above. This is Jounamagashi, a fresh type of Wagashi. It expresses directly by a form, but it isn't just a copy, it symbolizes our sense of beauty.


Quatre quart au Shiromiso

Today I bake Quatre quart au Shiromiso, which I bought at the exhibition of Kyoto food and products. I cut down on butter by 30% and substitute sour cream for it to make the batter lighter and softer. And I also cut down on sugar as Shiromiso is relatively sweet. As soon as it's just baked and I open an oven door, I smell sweet like cheesecake and get very excited as I'm sure that it succeed smoothly. Same as the smell, it taste like cheesecake without sourness. I will surely keep this recipe on my iPad.


Shiromiso made in Kyoto

Yesterday I went to Yokohama to an exhibition of Kyoto food and traditional products held in Takashimaya. Last year I bought some awesome food made in Kyoto and Nara, and then came to love them as soon as I had a bite of them. I have impatiently waited for this exhibition for a whole year. 

My favorite is "Shiromiso" produced by Kantoya. There are mainly 3 kinds of miso in Japan; "Shiromiso"(white), "Akamiso"(red) and "Awasemiso"(mixed) and in Kyoto Shiromiso has been preferred. It makes Shiromiso sweeter and lighter than another kinds of miso that it is fermented for a shorter time with half the salt of them. 

In the region I was born and lives Shiromiso is not popular and it is not easy to get good quality Shiromiso. So this exhibition is one of a few opportunity to get the one. Honestly saying, I didn't like Shiromiso once, but this Shiromiso by Kantoya changed my mind and captured me intensely. 

Yesterday I got 3 packs of miso and 2 in my freezer now. It is no exaggeration to say that they are my treasure. I will use them carefully and enjoy each bite of them.



As you know, Tofu is not only a Japanese food, known the world over as a healthy food with plenty of vegetable protein. In Japan, there are many processed food made from Tofu.

Ganmodoki is a deep-fried dampling made with tofu and vegetables, and often cooked in Nimono (simmered dishes) seasoned with soy sauce, sweet sake and bonito soup stock.

By the way, Ganmodoki means "like a wild goose". Buddhist monks forbidden eating animal cooked and ate it as a substitute for meat.


Valentine's Day in Japan

In Japan, only women give presents, mainly chocolates to men on Valentine's Day. These gifts are classified into three types: "giri choco" which means an obligatory chocolate for the woman's fellow workers and superiors, "honmei choco" which means a chocolate for the man the woman loves seriously and "tomo choco" which means a chocolate for the woman's female friends.

These pieces of chocolate consist of couverture chocolates by Valrhona and by Callebaut, hazelnuts, walnuts, raisins and ground black peppers. They are my honmei choco!