Japanese Sweets

A cup of mugicha (tea with roasted brown rice) and red sweet bean (anko).

January 11th is the day in Japan where the New Year’s kagami-mochi is broken open and cooked with sweet red beans (ankō), just as we did here. This particular mochi, having been an offering to the New Year’s god, 年神様 (toshigamisama), is said to bring blessings for the new year.

In Japan, red beans and mochi are frequently enjoyed with green tea. I personally prefer genmaicha which is green tea diluted with roasted brown rice. It has less caffeine and pretty gentle on the stomach.

Despite being with my wife for 20+ years, it took me a long time to develop a taste for Japanese sweets. A childhood spent enjoying Coke, American-style cakes (with buttercream) and Hershey’s candy bars really skewed my sense of taste. Only years later, did I notice after coming back from Japan that American food would taste sickly sweet and buttery to me.

At first, I found Japanese sweets kind of bland and unsatisfying. Traditional cafes with their mochi treats with either kinako powder or yōkan (compressed red bean paste) just not to my taste. Give me a chocolate donut any day.1

My tastes have changed as I get older, though, and I enjoy Japanese tea and sweets more than I used to. Green tea, including genmaicha, does a nice job of cleaning the palatte and mochi is great in soups and with red beans.

But even now, still like my Mighty-O Donuts. 🥳

1 The donut Mr Donuts, colloquially called ミスド (misudo) in Japan is super good.

Published by Doug

🎵Toss a coin to your Buddhist-Philhellenic-D&D-playing-Japanese-studying-dad-joke-telling-Trekker, O Valley of Plentyyy!🎵He/him

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