Wagashi is a traditional Japanese confectionery which is often served with tea, especially the types made of mochi, azuki bean paste, and fruits.
Wagashi is typically made from natural based (mainly plant) ingredients. The names used for wagashi commonly fit a formula — a natural beauty and a word from ancient literature; they are thus often written with hyougaiji (kanji that are not commonly used or known), and are glossed with furigana.
Generally, confectioneries that were introduced from the West after the Meiji Restoration (1868) are not considered wagashi. Most sorts of Okinawan confectionery and those originating in Europe or China that use ingredients alien to traditional Japanese cuisine, e.g., kasutera, are only rarely referred to as wagashi.
In ancient Japan, people ate fruits and nuts as confectionery and sweets, to supplement nutrition in addition to grain, such as rice, wheat and millet. In an excavation of a Jōmon period archeological site, the carbonized remains of what appeared to be baked cookies made from chestnut powder were discovered.
According to the Kojiki, Emperor Suinin ordered Tajima-mori to bring Tokijiku-no-Kagu-no-Konomi (登岐士玖能迦玖能木實) from the Eternal Land. 10 years later, Tajima-mori returned with the orange, but Emperor Suinin was already dead. Tajima-mori mourned since he could not carry out his mission and took his own life. By tradition, Tajima-mori is worshiped as spirit like a patron saint among confectionery craftsmen.
Grain processing technology evolved through rice cultivation. People began to produce a parched rice (yaigome), sun-dried cooked rice (hoshi-ii), rice flour, dumpling (dango), mochi, ame (made of saccharified rice malt) and so on. Thus, ancient people's confectionery was very simple.