Every region of Japan has a wealth of omiyage. These might be items to take home as your own souvenirs, but perhaps more characteristic are the individually packaged snacks meant to be shared by a large group, such as your colleagues. Though it is not enforced, some may consider it a pain to spend money on such things so as not to be the jerk who never brings back omiyage, but I find it fun to try to find things nobody has brought back yet. Sometimes this can be difficult, as every place has cheap cookies that taste the same all around the country and just have different mascots stamped on them. But sometimes you find something everyone is actually excited to receive.
On the flip side, sometimes you get the same thing more than once, and sometimes it’s from visitors to the office who have brought local products. There are some I am always excited to see, and Furoshiki Warabi Mochi is one of them.
A furoshiki is a wrapping cloth often made of decorative material historically used for wrapping your clothes when you visit a public bath, but which is now used in many aspects of Japanese culture. In the tea ceremony we make extensive use of them wrapping boxes which contain fine tools or for bagging up our purses and other items we don’t need in the tea room while enjoying the ceremony, and I use them at home for wrapping my kimono supplies. They are a very popular gift item, both as very Japanese-like souvenirs from Japan (especially given the wealth of designs and the fine silks they are often made of), and especially as wrapping for gifts. Instead of paper which is just going to be thrown again, furoshiki can be used again and again, and there are many stylish ways to wrap everything from boxes to wine bottles to oddly shaped objects. A furoshiki is now not only a very useful and pretty piece of fabric, but the sight of it almost screams something about gifts and gift-giving culture.
Warabi Mochi is a dumpling made with bracken starch. It’s extremely soft, not as chewy as gyuhi or tough like mochi made from rice flour. It is often covered in kinako, soybean flour (more like powder) which is lightly sweet and much more appetizing than the translated name suggests.
So what gives this its San’in flavor? The pear syrup you put on top! After all, Tottori is Japan’s ultimate pear spot.
Individual servings include three tiny blocks of warabi mochi, a packet of pear syrup, and a wooden stick with which to cleanly eat the sticky and powdery confection.
Doesn’t that look appetizing, especially at 3 in the afternoon when your brain is crying for a little confectionery boost? Stab those delectable morsels and enjoy the mix of fine powder, smooth syrup, and soft, soft, soft mochi textures.