Today we’re happy to introduce you to Mai-san, with the wonderful and whimsical alias “Miss Wagashi”, a traditional sweets expert based in Tokyo!
Could you please introduce yourself and share a little bit about yourself?
Hi, I’m Mai, known as “Miss Wagashi” on social media. I am a Japanese cooking and dessert expert in Tokyo. One of my areas of expertise is traditional sweets called “Wagashi”. Since 2017, I have taught many wagashi classes to both local and international guests from over 40 countries.
We found you thanks to your wonderful Instagram account! You have a lot of amazing Wagashi photos and you were offering Wagashi classes before Covid19. How did you come up with that idea? How did you learn how to master this art?
In the past, I was teaching in major cooking studios in Tokyo but I always wanted to offer more personalized experiences to my guests, something strongly related to my passion for arts and my Japanese identity.
Since I was a kid, I have loved all sorts of art, especially painting and sculptures. However, I had no idea how I could turn art into a career, since I had no art education or background. While studying Japanese cuisine in culinary school, I attended a class for traditional sweets. When I made these distinctive sweets for the first time, I realized I found a great way to express my creativity. Since then, I’ve attended many workshops taught by local chefs to master wagashi and pursued how to replicate these sweets at home.
What is your favorite type of Wagashi?
I love mochi, especially classic daifuku mochi!
What makes Wagashi so special for you?
For me, the visual attraction of wagashi is the most special. There are always themes and stories in each piece of confection, and such stories are expressed by shapes and color.
What is your favorite Japanese food? (except Wagashi!)
There are too many but I would say soba noodles are definitely one of my favorites since I grew up in the Kanto area.
You’re currently doing other online cooking classes for people all over the world. Can you please tell us a bit more about it?
Yes, I also offer sushi making online classes. The classes are not one way cooking demonstrations, but are interactive. I make it approachable for everyone. It feels very rewarding when guests say it was a fun way to spend time at home during difficult times like now, and they also enjoy getting to know about another culture. Many of my guests say they had trouble making sushi before, but after the class they feel like pros!
The classes are also used for corporate team building, birthday events, and family-friend gatherings.
You mentioned you’ll offer special Wagashi certification classes when travel resumes and the pandemic is behind us. We’d love to hear more about that project too!
There were a number of requests for wagashi certification classes, so I’ve had this idea for a long time. It will be an intensive course where you can learn a variety of designs and techniques that you need to know to be a wagashi instructor, or at least to unleash your creativity and be confident enough to make your own wagashi when you return back to your country. After completion of the course, students are free to join a group where you can ask questions about wagashi, have access to my private workshops, and connect to local experts. Details will be announced on my Instagram so if you are interested, please follow my Instagram posts.
Is there anything else you’d like to add or any message for our readers?
During the pandemic, I started my YouTube channel about Japanese home cooking and Wagashi sweets. From this channel, you can learn how to replicate distinct Japanese foods ranging from curry udon noodles to dango and mochi recipes at home. If you love Japan and want to learn about our local foods in depth, I think these videos are fun, informative, and give you new ideas on what to do and what to eat for your next trip to Japan!
Follow her on:
Online sushi-making class: https://www.airbnb.jp/experiences/1698717
Winter is just around the corner, read up on some cold weather sweets on our blog!
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