Hirado, one of Japan’s westernmost islands, was the first place where western culture arrived in Japan in the 16th century. The Europeans called it Firando.
Here, in the 1600’s, the Dutch built the first western buildings ever in Japan as part of their trading post. By that time many foreigners were living together with the people from Hirado and many new cultural aspects and products had been introduced to Japan through Hirado. One of those new products was sugar.
While Hirado was exposed to sugar and foreign sweets culture, a warrior style of tea ceremony founded by the lord of Hirado, Shigenobu Matsura, flourished together with this unique local sweets culture. Hirado had truly become Japan’s Island of Sweets.
The lords of Hirado who belonged to the ancient House of Matsura have handed down an “Encyclopaedia of 100 Sweets”.
This book was created 200 years ago by orders of the lord of Hirado, Hiromu Matsura, for the people of his town. It contains vivid drawings of 100 selected sweets as well as their recipes. This encyclopaedia of 100 sweets is a unique work since it does not only contain Japanese style “wagashi” sweets, but also lists sweets that are heavily influenced by Southeast Asia and Europe. The sweet culture that was brought over the wild seas from the west was influenced by the various cultures and stories it met on its way until it reached its final destination Hirado, Japan, where it blossomed in to a new culture of sweets.
Against this historical backdrop, artists/designers from the Netherlands, Hirado’s longstanding cultural and business partners, were invited to get inspired by the book of 100 sweets and create new modern day Hirado Sweets. This is the project “Sweet Hirado”.
The project is not just limited to sweets but also includes the presentation of newly designed plates, tea bowls, and other items that are directly linked with the sweets.
In 2016 two designer/artist teams from the Netherlands, studio INAMATT and Roosmarijn Pallandt, were invited to Hirado. They were paired with 3 sweets shops in Hirado (Eshiro, Kumaya and Tsutaya) as well as with makers for the plates and tea bowls such as the historical Hirado porcelain kilns in Mikawachi, Leerdam Glass and others. Together we will present a new culture of sweets to the world.
Towards the end of 2016 the sweets and plates will presented during the Dutch Tea Ceremony in Hirado and Tokyo, and in Europe in 2017.
Contact person: Chitose Ohchi