IMG: Wagashi - A Cultural Sweet Feast for the Eyes


[Online Talk] Wagashi - A Cultural Sweet Feast for the Eyes

Wagashi, or ‘Japanese-style confectionery’, has had a long and illustrious history. Created from plant-based ingredients such as azuki beans and rice, the elegant and delicate handmade creations are the result of artistry and have entertained not only the Japanese palate but also their eyes. Often reflecting the seasons, evoking nature, and symbolising important rites of life, wagashi, the elaborate art form with many shapes and colours, has co-existed for many years with other Japanese cultural staples, particularly literature.

In this special talk, NAKAYAMA Keiko, archivist at the famed confectioner Toraya, will introduce the charms of this artistry unique to Japan by tracing its history while looking into the unique aesthetic principles, materials, and designs. She will also elaborate on its relationship with Japanese culture and literature, such as its mention in The Tale of Genji or Sei Shonagon’s The Pillow Book.

Though sadly you will not be able to savour the taste in this talk, it will still be a treat for the eyes.


About the speaker

NAKAYAMA Keiko is the Expert Director of Toraya Archives. She graduated from Tokyo University of the Arts, Department of Aesthetics and Art History. The theme of her dissertation at the university was The Design of Wagashi. NAKAYAMA has published several books on wagashi including The World of Wagashi (Iwanami Shoten), Wagashi Design in the Edo Era (Poplar Publishing Co., Ltd.), and the children’s book A Book of Wagashi (Fukuinkan Shoten). She also wrote about wagashi for a school textbook for 5th grade elementary pupils which aimed to encourage school children to become more familiar with traditional Japanese arts and culture.


About Toraya Archives

Toraya Archives was originally established in 1973 as the ‘Confections Reference Room’ with the objective of contributing to the development, preservation and transmission of wagashi culture. In addition to collecting Toraya-specific historical documents and antique utensils, the archives house general wagashi-related materials and conduct research. Information about wagashi is shared in an annual academic journal Wagashi, on the archives’ website, and through occasional exhibitions at the gallery attached to Akasaka store. While there is no facility for browsing the archives’ historical records they do try to respond to enquiries in as much detail as possible.

Special Thanks to Toraya

This event is curated with Mu: Arts.

This online event is free to attend but registration is essential.

To reserve your space, please book your ticket here.




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