Here is another traditional Japanese Cake/Wagashi: Hanabira Mochi (菱葩餅 in Japanese)!
Hanabiramochi is a Japanese sweet usually eaten at the beginning of the year. Hanabiramochi is also served at the first tea ceremony of the New Year.
The name “hanabiramochi” literally means “flower petal mochi”. The original form of Hanabiramochi is Hishihanabira, a dessert that was eaten by the Imperial family at special events coinciding with the beginning of the year.
Hanabiramochi was first made in the Meiji Era (8 September 1868 – 30 July 1912), but it is now a familiar New Year wagashi.
The exact shape of hanabiramochi is strictly defined by tradition. The white mochi covering is flat and round, folded over to form a semicircular shape, and must have a pink color showing through in the center of the confection, fading to a white at the edge. Unlike a daifuku the mochi must not completely seal the insides.
In the center of a hanabiramochi is a layer of anko, a sweet bean paste, commonly the white kind made from sweetened mung beans. In the very center is a thin strip of sweetly flavoured gobo (burdock root) which protrudes from the mochi on both sides.
Each element of the hanabiramochi is significant.
The red colour showing through the white mochi is not only appropriate to the celebration of the new year but also evokes the Japanese apricot/plum (ume) blossom, which in turn represents the purity, perseverance, and renewal associated with the New Year.
The gobo represents pressed ayu, a fish exclusive to East Asia, and a prayer for a long life.
A vegan way to celebrate the New Year!