By Lester Goh
Japan is known for having plenty of delicious foods to enjoy - and foods that not only taste great, but ones that are often aesthetically pleasing as well. Perhaps the most beautiful to look at are wagashi, or Japanese sweets. These traditional confectioneries are made with ingredients like mochi, red bean paste and fruit, and often take inspiration from the seasons, with many of them made in the shape of flowers or other elements from nature.
If you're a fan of hands on activities and you'd like an introduction into making these Japanese sweets for yourself, a fantastic place to start is the Karakoro Art Studio in Matsue. They hold two wagashi making sessions a day at 11am and 2pm (except on Wednesdays), where you can learn all the intricacies of creating these edible works of art. The classes run for approximately half an hour and are capped at 20 participants per session, so prior reservations are advised.
The supplies are all provided for you, and despite the class being conducted in Japanese it's quite simple to just watch and copy what the instructors are doing. One of the instructors in the class had 40 years of wagashi making experience, so you know you're in very capable hands! The wagashi that you make in the classes are seasonally inspired, and for the class that I attended we made both a rose and a hydrangea wagashi. They almost look too good to eat - but rest assured, you can go ahead and devour them. Be sure to snap a picture or two first, though! You'll also be provided with everything you need to take the wagashi away with you.
Once you're finished with your class, it's worth taking some time to look around the Karakoro Art Studio premises. The building itself is a charming former bank building, but now houses a variety of arts and craft stores selling all manner of goods.
The Karakoro Art Studio can be easily accessed by the Lakeline City Loop Bus that departs every 20 minutes from Matsue Station.
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