IKKOAN: a celebration of wagashi craftsmanship

The IKKOAN book (by Nanki/Kawagoshi/Horiuchi/Sato) was designed to reveal to the world the beauty of wagashi, expressing each season’s beauty by confections and the sensitivity of the artisan who makes it. The book is a collection of the works of an extraordinary wagashi artisan, Chikara Mizukami (Ikkoan is name of his shop), covering 40 years of his career. Wagashi is an essential element in Japanese tea ceremony. Small enough to fit in a palm, each of these small confections carry seasonal motifs and are served with ceremonial tea. Wagashi accentuates the delicate flavor of the ceremonial tea, while adding a sense of the season to the whole ceremony.

The designers perceived wagashi as a miniature landscape, being reminiscent of Japanese gardens, as they both describe the seasons abstractly. They considered that a book portraying the beauty of wagashi should be something akin to architecture concealing a small garden inside it – so the book was designed to have an architectural aspect. The process started with trying to come up with a way to reproduce the unique texture of Mizukami’s wagashi onto the pages. The uniqueness of his wagashi is in its visually smooth and ephemeral texture, which turns to silky, delicate flavors when tasted. Starting off with examining and comparing hundreds of types of white paper with typical wagashi dough, the designers finally found a paper ideal for portraying Mizukami’s confections. On the cover of the book, the title logo is embossed on the delicate paper, accentuating the softness of the texture. When the reader peruses the pages, 72 wagashi types appears one after another, describing the 72 Japanese pentads. In this certain solar term descended from ancient times in Japan, season changes once in five days and rotate all 72 seasons, starting from the scenery when cold winds blow from the east and ending with the scenery of a hen sitting and sleeping on eggs. The book has a special case that comes with it, made of paulownia, just like the traditional gift boxes for wagashi.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Info and images courtesy of Ryusuke Nanki

 

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