Wherever in the world I travel, I always need to check out the local sweets and candies of the region. They are surprisingly revealing of textural and flavor preferences of the location, and there is almost always a lot of history tied up in the making and eating of special treats. Japan is no exception to this rule, and has an incredibly rich history of candy making.
Last spring, I purchased these incredible candies en route to Matsushima, on the eastern coast of northern Japan. It is one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited. The sweets look like cherry blossoms, aka sakura, and the flower shaped ones tasted like them, too. These confections were made with white and red bean pastes, mochi (sticky rice that has been pounded to a smooth, bouncy paste, and lightly sweetened), and fresh fruit jellies.
What could be more inspiring for charm making than these candies!? They are so pretty, and like my charms, they were sturdy, but still had delicacy to their form. I knew I would make charms inspired by these candies, but it took me a year to get to it.
As always, my charms are formed by hand, with an exception here. Later in our trip, we visited Kappabashi, a kitchen supplies district in Tokyo, where I purchased a set of sakura blossom shaped candy cutters at a confection supplies shop! So I used those for the flower shaped charms. I kept the colors true to the original candy and used iridescent glitter instead of sugar.
On our trip, I also purchased a wonderful book about a man who set out to study all the regional sweets and confections of Japan, so he could make plaster replicas. His goal was to create a historically accurate record of each area’s specialties. What a kindred spirit! His work is beyond inspiring. I have searched the internet but I can’t find this book online, as all the text is in Japanese. I will update you if I find it!!
For additional education on Japanese confections, I highly recommend watching YouTube videos of Dagashi (inexpensive Japanese candies) and Wagashi (amazing, labor intensive, hand made confections like the ones that inspired this necklace). You will learn a lot about tradition, and you’ll be inspired and delighted! XO