Wagashi are Japanese sweets. For now, I will digress from Okinawa related topics and focus on Japan.
和 wa is used for “Japanese” and 菓子 kashi means “sweets” or “confections,” but it can also sort of just mean candy or snacks. So 和菓子 wagashi are Japanese style sweets. 洋菓子 yougashi means Western style confections.
I am lucky that here in Okinawa there are a few very nice wagashi shops. One of my favorites is called Usagi-ya うさぎや on Route 34 in Ginowan, not too far from my university. By the way “usagi” is such a cute name, it means “rabbit” in Japanese. The や ya after it just means “shop” or “store.”
Wagashi overall encompasses many types of sweet, but below are some examples of my favorites, called Nama-gashi 生菓子 which are “fresh sweets.” So delicate, fragrant, artistic. I posted here about some of the different types of wagashi.
Some have anko あんこ (sweet azuki bean paste), some have other seasonal flavors (such as chestnut, sakura) or maybe just a white bean paste. The shapes are always so beautiful and usually related to the time of year; this is year of the monkey, so during the new year I purchased a monkey, a bamboo, and plum blossoms. Other times there will be matsutake mushroom shape, maple leaf, ginkgo leaf, sakura… always amazing.
I hope everyone can enjoy a taste of Japan.
Address for Usagi-ya: 1 Chome-6-2 Ganeko, Ginowan, Okinawa Prefecture 901-2214