WAGASHI - Interview with Mrs. Klara No.1
The purposes of this interview
Today, so-called ‘Japan-obsessed’ topic has become more popular abroad. It is no exception here in the Czech Republic. This time, we would like to explore how Japanese culture has been introduced and embraced, and in which ways Japanese culture is unique from the perspective of Czechs, focusing on Wagashi as a medium of cultural understanding.
Introduction of an Interviewee Mrs. Klara who loves Japan so much.
Mrs. Klara makes Wagashi for her enjoyment. She sells Wagashi at Japanese cultural events and also Japanese café in Prague. We interviewed and asked her why did you come to make Wagashi, and difficulties and attractive aspects in making Wagashi.
【Motivation for making Wagashi】
What inspired you to make Wagashi (Japanese confections)?
It all started eight years ago. A lecture meeting on Wagashi was held by a Japanese Wagashi confectioner at the Na Pradle Theater. He explained the process of making Wagashi and what kinds of ingredients were used. To my surprise, beans, especially red beans are absolutely necessary in making Wagashi. It sounded far-fetched at first. Made up Wagashi, however, stole my heart; those of flowerings, symbolizing seasonal items, and animals’ figures were so attractive.There was no way of buying Wagashi in Czech. It occurred to me that I could do it by myself, by all means. That was key motivation for starting to make Wagashi.
How did it taste when you tested “sweet beans” for the first time?
For the first time, I ate red bean paste and it was so delicious! It tasted sweet and good. I was very surprised with it because I would never expect that bean paste became so delicious.
Were you interested in Japan even before you started making Wagashi?
Yes, I was. That is why I did not miss a chance to attend a lecture meeting of Wagashi, where I ever tasted Wagashi for the first time. Besides, I frequently participated in events hosted by Japanese embassy or Czech-Japanese Association.
What sort of event was it, Kabuki?
(No.) It is possible to watch Kyogen here. I have regularly enjoyed watching Kyogen at the Na Pradle Theater. What made me interest about Japanese culture is that Japanese way of expressing beauty. It attracts me absolutely; for instance, patterns in Kimono design that symbolizes nature; seasonal flowers, birds, and moon. I love Wagashi so much on the ground of that Wagashi is the exact substance to express its beauty, expressing seasonal beauties and respect a sense of the season. Of course, I know Japanese Animation well, especially by Hayao Miyazaki.