From Etsy seller Vintage From Japan:
“This is a vintage mold called kashigata. Often 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. Earliest records show that this practice dates back to the mid-seventeenth 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.”
The shop features other wonderful vintage Japanese items as well–I’m especially fond of the vintage stamps and stencils!