Japanese Sweets: The Charms of Ohagi

In Japan, traditional sweets are called wagashi. In this article, we'll look at a particular favorite Japanese sweet called ohagi. While they may look humble, they play an important part in Japanese food culture. Read on to learn all about the many charms of ohagi!

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Ohagi is a very popular Japanese wagashi, and is most commonly made with a rice cake covered with bean jam.

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This Japanese sweet is made from rounded cooked sticky rice which is wrapped in red bean paste or soybean flour.

The difference between ohagi and mochi rice cakes the way the sticky rice is processed. Unlike mochi, where the rice is kneaded to a smooth texture, the rice is only partially mashed to make ohagi. This process is called “hangoroshi”, and allows the rice to stick together while still retaining the texture of the individual grains.

The most common ohagi flavors are red bean paste and soybean flour called kinako. We can also wrap the ohagi with flour of sesame or walnut.

Anko Ohagi – Red Bean Paste Ohagi

Anko, or red bean paste, is made from boiled adzuki bean sweetened with sugar.

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Kinako Ohagi – Soybean Flour Ohagi

Kinoko is a flour made from soybean. To flavor ohagi and other wagashi, the flour is sweetened with sugar.

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Kurumi Ohagi – Walnut Ohagi

Similar to kinako, this is also flour made from walnuts that is mixed together with sugar.

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The anko ohagi is the standard type of ohagi that has been enjoyed in Japan since the olden days. It is a good match with Japanese tea, and they are usually served together.

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A long time ago, ohagi was a valuable dish served to treat guests and used for memorial services. Its existence was similar to the role cake played in western cultures.

In Japan, there are memorial services to pay respect to the ancestors called “ohigan" (equinoctial week), that are held 2 times in spring and fall. At those times, ohagi is made in every household and is sold in supermarkets as an offering to the ancestors.

Every family's ohagi is unique. Although the shape and general recipe is the same, the taste of the red bean paste and the size is different from household to household. 

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Most Japanese sweet shops sell ohagi, please try to enjoy ohagi when you come to Japan. To try Japanese wagashi in Tokyo, read our guide to 5 Tokyo Wagashi Cafes With a Twist!

If you're curious about what other types of Japanese sweets there are out there, we've got all you need to know in our guide to 25 Must Try Japanese Wagashi.

The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.

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