When we first acquired this pair of wooden molds many years ago we were told that they were Rice Molds. However, after a lot of research, I have found that rice balls -- called "onigiri" in Japanese are traditionally a favorite food to pack in bento boxes. They are traditionally molded into a round ball or a triangle. Since these molds were apparently not meant for that shape, we did some more research.
In doing so, we found another type of mold called a Kashigata - usually made of sakura (cherry wood) and seasoned for about 3 years before carving. Kashigata were used to make dried confectionery made of rice flour and sugar called rakugan. One can see many examples of Kashigata on any of the search engines - virtually all of which are made to press the contents into designs such as the one in these two molds. Earliest records show that this practice dates back to the mid-17th century. These confections were used as offerings and snacks for celebratory occasions and even unfortunate events. For example when a person died, it was expensive to give flowers or fresh food so, people made these sweets in the form of flowers, fish etc. These items were then placed on the “butsudan” (family shrine found in the house) for the dead person. Kashigata were also used in the making of wagashi (nama-gashi or freshly made cake and hi-gashi or dried confectionery) for tea ceremonies.
Accordingly we are going to override the description of these as Rice Molds that had been provided by the previous owner. We are now convinced that they are both Kashigata. The larger one measures 7 1/2" by 4" by 3/8" - the slightly smaller one measures 7" by 3 3/4" by 1 1/4". They both have excellent patina and are in very fine condition. The molds design is in the shape of an open lotus blossom. The top and bottom of the molds are held together with small wooden pegs that fit into a corresponding hole on the other side. One of these pegs has been broken off - that is the only condition issue. We date them to the mid to late Meiji period, circa 1880s - 1900.