Although dessert is not included in the average traditional meal (especially at our house) and kaiseki restaurants include a small piece of fruit (if anything) to end the meal, traditional sweets, called wagashi, have a long tradition. These were usually consumed with tea, or as a snack in the middle of the day. Wagashi companies such as Toraya have been in business since at least the 16th century, supplying, among others, the Imperial court. Their wagashi (pictured above) are beautiful to behold, and feature seasonal ingredients, motifs and flavors. They are also quite prestigious and expensive ($4 and up) and are often wrapped in exquisite boxes to be given as gifts, or served to guests during tea ceremonies. There are different grades of wagashi, and some are much more humble and affordable. Most people don’t make their own wagashi, as they are time consuming and difficult to make. In the West, ohagi are found at Japanese markets in the refrigerated section. For fun, or to feed a large group, you might try making your own ohagi, or one of the desserts featured below.