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Courtesy Mai Irie

Chef notes

When you hear the word "wagashi," you probably picture a style of nerikiri wagashi, like those that are usually served during tea ceremonies. However, the term "wagashi" is used for all traditional Japanese desserts, ranging from simple daifuku mochi to street foods like taiyaki, to more classical nerikiri wagashi. Most wagashi are made from ingredients like rice flour, beans and agar, which have been used for many centuries. Traditional wagashi uses only plant-based ingredients, and this is what makes these Japanese confections so different from Western desserts (and therefore suitable for vegans). Wagashi can be served in both casual and formal situations, depending on the style.

On social media, I'm known as "Miss Wagashi." I create a variety of traditional Japanese sweets and share them on Instagram. On YouTube, I share authentic Japanese home cooking, traditional sweets recipes and information about delicious foods from Japan.

My Wagashi and Mochi-Making Intensive Course is now available on Udemy. This is an online course with 24 video lectures and a PDF workbook with recipes. You can learn how to make wagashi from your kitchen at any time!


  • 1/2 tablespoon (5 grams) glutinous rice flour
  • 1 tablespoon (10 grams) sugar
  • 2/3 tablespoon (10 grams) water, divided
  • 7 ounces (200 grams) white bean paste
To Assemble
  • white bean paste


    For the dough:


    Mix the glutinous rice flour and sugar together and add half of the water. Stir until the sugar has been dissolved and the mixture is smooth. When there are no clumps remaining, add the rest of the water and stir until it is a smooth paste. Set aside.


    With a spatula, smooth out the white bean paste in the bottom of a microwave-safe mixing bowl and make cuts in the paste to increase the surface area. This helps it cook faster. Cook in the microwave at 500 watts (low power) for 1½ minutes. When it comes out of the microwave, it should look slightly white-ish and dried out on top but still damp on the bottom. Stir well, flatten, make more cuts and heat it in the microwave for 1½ more minutes.


    Now it should look white and dry on top. When you touch the surface, it should not be sticky. If your bean paste sticks to your finger, it should be heated longer.


    Heat the mixture of glutinous rice flour, sugar and water in the microwave for 30 seconds at 500 watts (low power). At this point, it should be partially cooked. Mix it and return it to the microwave to heat for another 30 seconds. Stir again. The mochi should now look sticky and transparent. Add this mochi to the white bean paste and stir until well combined.


    Now the dough is ready to knead. Transfer the dough on top of a damp cotton cloth. To knead it, take two opposite corners of the cotton cloth and fold the dough over. Repeat with the other two corners. Continue kneading until the dough is smooth.


    Break up the dough into small pieces to help it cool down faster. Let the dough rest for about 1 minute, but don't leave it out for too long or else the edges will start to dry and crack.


    After a minute, gather the dough in the center of the cloth and knead to combine again. The surface should be smooth.


    To check if it is ready, use the line test: With one finger, draw a line in the dough. If you don't see any clumps or cracks, the dough is ready.


    You can either use the dough right away or cover it in plastic wrap and let it rest in the fridge overnight. The next day, the dough will be more stable and easier to handle (leaving it in the fridge overnight is not mandatory).

    To shape the wagashi:


    Roll 2-teaspoon-size balls of bean paste. This will be the filling.


    Wrap the filling in the dough (about 1 tablespoon plus 2/3 teaspoon). Seal the dough.


    Roll it between your palms to make the surface smooth.


    With a wooden triangular stick, draw lines to create the flower petals.


    Make the center of the flower with a small amount of yellow dough.