Hinagashi (Girls’ day confectionery)

Updated: Jun 18

Unbaked confectionery to be displayed for Hina Dolls Festival.

The 3rd April falls on Hina Dolls Festival in central Tsuruoka. Unlike the adjacent areas of the city, the Festival in downtown is celebrated mostly based on the old calendar. Time-honored hina dolls are showcased everywhere under a title of Hinda Kaido (Hina dolls street), which is crowded with citizens and tourists alike. The essential that accompanies the hina dolls is hinagashi, the Tsuruoka’s unique, adorable, unbaked confectionery made of sweetened bean paste. We visited a confectionery artisan in town for an interview.

Since there are households in the city that celebrate the festival based on either the old calendar or the Western calendar (3rd March), there are two peaks of the hinagashi making, which are the 3rd of March and the 3rd of April, according to the artisan. We visited Tsuruya, a confectionery shop on the 4th March when one the peaks of the business had passed.

The owner of the shop is Mr. Nobuo Togashi, the 83-year-old devoted artisan. He has been engaged in the confectionery production since 1953. Mr Togashi who cannot drink at all loves sweets. His determination to become a confectioner is seen as an extension of his avocation, smiled the artisan with an incomparable 60-year-experience. Mr. Togashi’s long-standing, honed techniques were recognized by the city and he received an accolade of the Tsuruoka Preeminent Artisanship Award in 2012.

Tsuruoka’s hinagashi – past and present

Tsuruoka’s hinagashi is a traditional unbaked confectionery (namagashi) that originates from Kyoto culture which was transported by Kitamaebune (northern-bound ships for coastal trade). In past days, higashi (dry confectionery) and amezaiku (cand craft artistry) which can be preserved longer were a mainstream. In around 1952-1953, however, the unbaked confectionery that bears good taste started to be made. Following that trend ever since, Mr. Togashi has been selling the unbaked confectionery at the shop while the dry confectionery is made only for display.

The main ingredients for the unbaked confectionery are a white bean paste that is used for an exterior of the confectionery and an adzuki paste that is used for an inner side of the confectionery. Mr. Togashi’s obsession with the unbaked confectionery is represented in a holistic balance of the assortment and a color of the namagashi. The lustrous confectionery assorted on the four-legged tray is somewhat humorous and they looked like colorful toys.

What we need to preserve and what we need to change

The hinagashi is made to