How to Make Wagashi: Seasonal Nerikiri Sweets With Miss Wagashi

By Emily Suvannasankha
Updated: July 31, 2023

You may have heard of traditional Japanese sweets, or wagashi—but do you know how the little beauties are made? For hundreds of years, classic ingredients like mochi and red bean paste have been used to make delicate, handcrafted sweets that are often paired with green tea during tea ceremonies.

In this video, follow along with Mai, known on social media as Miss Wagashi, as she shows you how to make nerikiri, a beautiful type of wagashi that reflects the season in which it's served. Learn more about the fine art of wagashi while being mesmerized by Miss Wagashi's talent!

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How to Make Wagashi, Traditional Japanese Sweets

Before showing us how to make wagashi, Mai shows us around her kitchen and explains how she first got interested in wagashi in a short interview. She then introduces the unique set of tools she uses to craft nerikiri wagashi, including cookie cutters, wooden sticks, and more! This time, Miss Wagashi chooses three different-colored flowers to make for us. Find out which gorgeous seasonal flower each of these wagashi are inspired by in the video.

Three Japanese sweets on white plate: pink cherry blossom, orange flower, blue flower

To make the wagashi, she mixes sugar, rice flour, and other ingredients into a paste to make a ball of chewy Japanese rice cake, or mochi. Adding this to the white bean paste, she kneads the mixture until soft. Then she adds food coloring to the dough for the outer layers of the nerikiri.

In a surprisingly easy process, she then wraps the colored bean paste around a ball of shiroan, or white bean paste, to make a small ball of dough ready for decoration.

Many silver flower-shaped cookie cutters with wooden stick tool and hand holding toothpick

Finally, Miss Wagashi takes us through the fine art of shaping the ball of wagashi into seasonal nerikiri. First, she makes clean lines in the outer bean paste coating to form petals, with a different number and style of petals for each type of flower. Then she pokes the middle of the wagashi with a toothpick, marking where she'll place a tiny yellow ball of dough for the center of the flower. Miss Wagashi deftly uses her fingers to push, pull, and indent the dough until her nerikiri looks just right!

Hand using wooden stick tool to make indent in japanese wagashi dough

Book a Wagashi Making Class in Tokyo with Miss Wagashi

Itching to get your hands on some bean paste and try making wagashi for yourself? Book the Nerikiri Wagashi Class in Tokyo with Matcha Green Tea, where you'll learn how to make wagashi that reflect the seasons with Miss Wagashi, herself!

Making your own wagashi is a great way to gain a deeper feel for the process and history of Japanese sweets, which differ significantly from many kinds of Western sweets. So make sure you get a taste of traditional Japan with this personal wagashi class on your next trip to Tokyo!

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Emily Suvannasankha
Masquerading as a grad student in Linguistics, Emily can typically be found counting the minutes ‘til her next peach chūhai. She has two years in Nagoya before her need for jumbo peanut butter sends her crawling back to the US.
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