Tokara is a Seattle-based confectionery that prepares only freshly made Japanese sweets known as wagashi. These traditional Kyoto-style confections are crafted to reflect the seasonal changes and the beauty of nature in color, shape, and taste. Handmade by Chef Tokara, a selection of wagashi echoing the current season of the year – be it spring, summer, fall, or winter – are offered monthly.
Wagashi arose from the Japanese tradition of borrowing and blending facets of other cultures. Asian and Western confectionary ingredients and methods were combined, and over the centuries have become extremely refined and uniquely Japanese. Inspirations include … Toh – The forebear of Japanese confectionary. Long ago a type of orange from the Asian mainland, called toh in Chinese, was brought to Japan and became so highly regarded that the Japanese term for a tasty treat, okashi, came in that era to refer to sweet fruit.
Tang – From dynastic China. Sweets in Japan progressed beyond natural fruits when prepared, or cooked confections were introduced from China during the Tang Dynasty. These sweets became known in Japanese as tang-kashi, meaning Tang sweets.
Namban – Portugal. Japanese confections became even more varied when Portuguese traders, the first Westerners to visit Japan, introduced something never before seen there - sweets made with white sugar and eggs. Since the Portuguese made their entry from the south, they became known as Namban-jin, literally “foreigners from the south.” As a result, Namban became the Japanese word for Portugal.
These Asian and European sweets and preparation styles were adapted to Japanese tastes, paired with the Japanese appreciation for natural beauty, and specialized into the delicacies now called wagashi. Tokara preserves this tradition in its confectionary, and Chef Tokara’s goal is to bring the tradition full circle by offering a taste of Japan to the world through wagashi.
Chef Tokara prepares wagashi using the centuries-old Kyoto method and carefully selects only the best and freshest ingredients to ensure her confections are of the highest quality. Her dedication and meticulous attention to craft and technique produces sweets that are visually stunning and exquisitely flavorful. And for Chef Tokara, taste is most important. “It must be delicious!”