June 27, 2011

Edible Art in Nara

 A strong mid-summer sun is over Nara.

 Strolling around Naramachi, you can enjoy tasting the atmosphere of the good old Nara .
 But, today, it is scorching!!

I take a rest at a small and cozy Wagashi ( traditional Japanese confections) shop "なかにしNakanishi" in Naramachi. Wagshi  are symbolical, edible art objects which actually please our five senses; the eye, the palate, the nose, the touch and the ear.  The ear? Because  each Wagashi has a beautiful poetic name. Each name sounds pleasant to the ear. Wagashi represents the seasonal  scenery, events or features of the year, usually  a little bit in advance. I'd like to introduce what I enjoyed here this month, June.

" 雨の音 Sound of Rain"
Can you guess what this sweet depicts? 
The ripples on the water represent quietly falling rain.   One-month-long rainy season will be over soon.

 This is my image of rainy season.

 ”雨あがり After Rain"
A baby snail is resting on a leaf with a drop of rain.

"軒わたり From Eaves to Eaves"
June is the month when swallows migrate to Japan and raise babies.
The swallow-shaped sweet jelly  is on  the Wagashi.  
Swallow babies. To be a mother of five chicks is tough, but to survive as  one of five chicks is also tough.(The 5th one is behind four chicks.)

"紫陽花 Hydrangea” 
At the beginning,  all of the flowers are white, 
 and gradually turn blue, pink, purple or more.
I admire this aesthetic sense of a Wagashi confectioner.

”杜若 Iris"

”青梅 Green Plum"
The rainy season is called 梅雨(Plum or Apricot Rain)
 as fruits of  Japanese apricot start to get ripened
 during the rainy season.

"縁日の帰り Coming Back From Summer Festival" 
 Fish are from goldfish scooping.

"庚申さん, Koshin Deity" (You can enjoy this all year around.)
This Wagashi represents a red and white stuffed monkey
 which is called a substitute monkey.
 It is a charm to protect people, 
 which accepts  misfortune, disease and disasters instead of people.
 The monkeys are the messengers of Koshin Deity.

Wagashi  is said  to be originated in Nara. Near Kintetsu Nara Station, there is a small shrine dedicated to Mr. Rin  who came to Japan from China in the 14th century, started to make the prototype for Wagashi in Nara.
To consume too much sugar surely harms our health. But relatively, Wagashi are healthy food as almost all ingredients are made from plants and are rich in fiber, high quality protein, vitamins, and minerals while on the contrary, western style cakes contains animal fat and are high in calories. 

Which one do you want to try?

Buds of lotus flowers are still tightened.

Visit My World to learn more about our world!!


  1. I think this is wonderful. I love the way that your beautiful blog educates me about Japanese artistic sensibility. It is so refined and delicate. My favourite is the hydrangea because it seems as if other thoughts, represented by the colours, are also half glimpsed in this apparently solid object

  2. Hi,Snowwhite.

  3. You're pictures and art are truly amazing. I love what I learn here. You're blog continually transports me away...to Japan...old and new and I thank you.

  4. 暑い日にも涼しさを感じさせる、自然の中にある優しい絶妙な色合いの和菓子に脱帽です。とても綺麗ですね。(*'▽'*)わぁ♪ 可愛い目をした鹿がsnowwhiteさんを見上げいますね。何をしているのでしょう。足元に気をつけて!

  5. Wow - beautiful shots. And those sweets - they are works of art!

  6. ほんとに和菓子の季節感にあふれた繊細な色、形・・芸術ですね。食べてしまうのがおしいような・・・

  7. I love the scene where people are walking with their umbrellas along the shiny wet tiles. All your photos have a gentle softness to them. The treats look delicious and nutritious. The idea of the red and white substitute monkey is unique. Regardless of whether the concept works or not they certainly make delightful decorations. :)

  8. You do take us on such lovely strolls through your world each week and I always learn more about your wonderful country! Your photos, your composition are always breathtaking! Hope you have a wonderful week!


  9. Yum-yummy-yum..., how sweet eating a piece of “o-manjyu” with a cup of green tea! Can’t help but taking a picture before eating for its beauty of art.

  10. The green plum looks very enticing to me. I would love to try it!

    I hope the weather cools down for you.

  11. Wonderful seasonal shots of Nara. Loved the flowers.

  12. Beautiful photos and commentary. I think I'd like to try "The Sound of Rain" and "Hydrangeas".

  13. What an interesting post! I would love to taste the Sound of Rain!

  14. The Japanese culture is so fascinating. I wish to learn more.

  15. How interesting!
    Even edible things in Japan are full of beauty and poetry.
    Thank you for such an interesting post.

  16. Through your presentation of many sweets I felt appetite and also this unsettled rainy season.
    Plum sweet looks like a real one!
    I cannot choose one for tea.

  17. Lucky you who live in such a wonderful world, and thanks for sharing.

  18. wow - those desserts are a work of art
    i would choose The Sound of Rain, love the little ripples on the top of it

    and your photo of the deer is a great angle

  19. This is an amazingly beautiful post... You live in such a beautiful part of the world and your blog is just the right place to feast my eyes on the art and class...
    Have a lovely week ahead:)

  20. For me, "Sound of rain" looks best. Because I like to have adzuki-beans for June. There is a sweet named "Minase...something",isn't there?
    "縁日の帰り" Is this sweet? If it's sweet, the craftsman is fine and I will try next time.

  21. For me, reading your blog is a cultural adventure in Japan :) I'm very grateful for your photos and the details of life that you shared.

  22. there's much to learn with just one word. ^0^
    i'd be sure to remember "Wagashi."
    i can't wait to try one.
    is it too sweet?
    i think it's best if you match it with some hot green tea. ^0^
    June is definitely a good month even when the weather gets moody.

  23. All so lovely and delicate.
    I enjoyed my visit.

  24. this was a sensual feast to be sure. I'm loving the iris. the tight bud of the lotus flower. and the light on the water with the deer. these are magical photos. the highlight of my week. I think I would love the rainy season.

  25. I am sitting here with goose bumps on my arms, and the little chills running across my shoulders that mean I am looking at pure, honest beauty. In our Western World, there is such a hurry-scurry that our senses are dulled...and in your world, such appreciation for the GIFT of our senses. Thank you for this beautiful post - and I would choose Sound of Rain.

  26. Jenny Woolf,
    Thanks. I agree with you! Pink and blue jelly overlap and make purple-like luster. I love this delicate subtleness very much.

    Thanks. このところ、少し食べ過ぎ気味なのです。奈良町このところ、新しいお店がたくさんできてきていますね。僧侶が作る精進料理というのも、この間ちらっとみました。気になるお店の一つです。

    Thanks. I’m glad you like this.

    Thanks. Iris is translucent and pleases the eye!

    Thank. 写真を撮っていると、鹿は何をしているの?って言う顔で私を見ます。本当にかわいい目ですね。

    Thanks. I’m glad you enjoyed art of Watgashi.

    Thanks. 和菓子の写真を撮るのはとっても難しいです。それで、あきらめて食べてしまいます。

    Aka Penelope,
    Thanks. I also love gentle quietness in a rainy day. Yes, the monkeys please the eye always.

    Sylvia K,
    Thanks. In Naramachi, people enjoy lovely strolls. There are many cozy restaurants and cafes also. .

    Thanks. I enjoy Wagashi doubly, taking photos and tasting.

    EG Wow,
    Thanks. The green plum looks real the most and is enticing.

    Thanks. In Naramachi, many houses put many potted flowers in front of their houses.

    , Thanks. "The Sound of Rain" and "Hydrangeas" symbolize the rainy season the best.

    Thanks, The sound of Rain is beautiful Wagfashi.

    Photo Cache,
    Thanks, I’m glad that you are interested in Japanese Culture.

    Thanks, If you found something interesting in my blog, I’ll be so happy. Please visit again.

    Thanks. Yes, it looks like a real one. After choosing one, I think next time I'll have that. Always I want to taste all.

    Thanks, I want to show more and more my world. Please come again.

    Thanks, yes, ripples depict falling rain beautifully. See you.

    Thanks, I am always amazed with your serene and breathtaking world. I hope all beauty be preserved for a long long time.

    I also am interested in this "縁日の帰り". Next time, I'll try this.
    But, no "Minase". Whenever I visit here, they have something new.

    This is a great, great encouragement for me. Thanks a lot.

    Thanks, it is really good to take Wagashi with hot green tea! Wagashi in my blog have decent sweetness. Not so sweet.

    Thanks, I’m glad you visited my blog, Please come again!

    Thanks, sometimes I don’t know a deer is looking at me and I am looking at the deer,
    I’m looking forward to lotus flowers blooming.

    Linda McMullan,
    Thanks, I’m glad you found some beauty in our culture. Sound of Rain is symbolic and tasty Wagashi. With hot or cold Japanese tea, it is so good.

  27. I love how you've taken a photo of the wagashi and the real thing! Your post has made me hungry. Wagashi for me is an 'adult' taste, which I've come to like lately :D

  28. Must I choose? Perhaps, I could go every day and have a different lovely treat! Are the tastes all different? Perhaps I'd have to sample to know which is my favorite. (I guess now you know that I have a "sweet tooth!") PS That first photo of the deer from above is just wonderful.

  29. The rain seems to melt in the softness of the Japanese sweet.

    I am enlightened by your splendid works.
    Thank you for the beauty...

    Have a good weekend.


  30. What a beautiful post. Can I please try them all..

  31. Ah, I lived in Nara-ken for 3 years. I really miss it. Now I can visit your blog for a dose of Nara.


  32. This is an excellent post! Very interesting and the pictures are wonderful!

  33. Hello Snowhite! I always look forward to your posts. I know it will complete my day your previous posts does. I also know I will learn something new about Japan. Truth is, I have a strange fascination about Japan especially since I use to love animes and er..I like watching Japanese doramas (teehee) Some time back, I watched Hana Yori Dango and Hana Kimi and er.. I had a huge crush on Shun Oguri -I know, cheesy chick flick huh –hehe. BUT back to your post, I love your photography style, so subtle and haunting -really beautiful. You transform ordinary objects and sceneries to something exquisite. I look forward to more refreshing posts! Is it asking too much if I ask for your name? Of course, I can always call you Snowhite –teehee.

  34. Hello Snowwhite!
    It must be quite an aesthetic experience,viewing,then eating these beautiful foods.I find the green apricot very appealing.......and the earthenware plate.It must be good in some ways to know when to expect the rain and to have it over and done with in a specified time.
    Lovely to see the swallows,here fewer arrive each year.
    The small shrine is an interesting reminder of the past.As always your photos are splendid.Thanks for sharing this.

    Have a lovely week,

  35. wow, thank you for sharing your culture. This was very interesting and I loved your pictures describing each taste. It was like I could taste each one.
    Thank You!

  36. Kaori
    Thanks, decades ago, people used to prepare Wagashi and Japanese tea for their guest. But now Wagashi have been replaced with cakes and coffee gradually. It is sad. But・・・I love cake and coffee.

    Thanks. I also have a sweet tooth. Sometimes, I eat too much and I think next time I'll resist sweet temptation. Too difficult!

    Thanks. Oh, what a beautiful poetic expression. A delicate sweetness dissolves in the mouth too.

    Thanks. Oh, you lived in Nara for 3 years!! How nice!! Sometimes will you come back?

    Thanks. I like the first photo of a gentle deer looking at me. I'll make more effort to find great reelections.

    Thanks, I have enjoying watching NHK drama which NHK TV broadcasting company presents from 8:00pm to 8:45 on every Sunday night and continues one year from the beginning to end. Shun Oguri played the key person in the last year drama. He is tall, nice guy. In Japanese, we call a man like him "Ikemen, meaning handsome guy".
    Of course not, my name is Keiko. 惠子(keiko) means blessed child.

    Thanks, many Wagashi are sold only in the specific time. So if I miss them , I have to wait one year. Japanese climate is rather hush especially in summer. So find out something nice and beautiful to enjoy each season is good way. Yesterday I saw the swallow chicks and all five chicks were fine. Some of them started to fly.

    Thanks, I'm very glad you felt taste from my photos. They are very good especially with hot green tea.

  37. These Wagashi look wonderful.


Thanks a lot for visiting my blog and leaving warm messages. I will visit your site soon. keiko