sweets

Ho ho ho! Merry Krispy Kreme Christmas donuts are here!

Japan has really started embracing Halloween over the past few years, but that doesn’t mean the country has adopted every Western holiday. For example, no one really has American-style Thanksgiving celebrations here, which means there’s no reason to wait until December to get into the Christmas mood.

So as soon as Halloween is over, you can start expecting the signs of Christmas, and along with Christmas lights and Christmas trees, this year you can look forward to some sweet and adorable Christmas donuts from Krispy Kreme.

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Pink strawberry milk Pepsi set to return to stores in Japan this winter

We’ve talked before about all the cool Kit Kats Japan gets, but the chocolate-covered wafers aren’t the only sweet indulgence with exclusive-to-Japan versions. Once a year or so, Pepsi releases a special flavor for the Japanese market, too.

This winter the soft drink maker is bringing back a popular hit from a few years ago, with the return of strawberry milk Pepsi.

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Oh, crepe! We discover a pastry vending machine at the airport

You might think there’s no reason to fly to Fukuoka. After all, the Shinkansen line now stretches all the way to the biggest city on the island of Kyushu, and those spiffy new first-class long-haul bus seats are about ready to make their debut. Why bother taking to the skies when you’ve got two perfectly good terrestrial travel options?

Simple: so you can get a crepe from a vending machine at Fukuoka Airport.

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Brilliant use for the almost expired milk in your fridge: It’s time for some milk jam!

Have you ever opened your fridge and were faced with just a carton of milk? How about going to the pantry and only finding a few slices of bread? What are you supposed to do for breakfast, lunch or dinner? If you thought the only thing you could do was soak the bread into the milk and call it a meal, you are in for a surprise, a sweet surprise! Turns out with just a bit of sugar and a microwave, you can turn that boring old milk into something incredibly delectable.

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Less is more as bakery starts selling bags of delicious melon bread crusts minus the bread

It hasn’t made its way to the same level of international culinary stardom as sushi and ramen, but I don’t think I’ve ever introduced a foreign visitor to Japan to melon bread who didn’t fall in love with it. Despite containing no actual melon (the name is thought to come from the pattern scored into the bread’s upper crust), the Japanese bakery mainstay is a definite winner thanks to its sugar-dusted, crisp outer layer. Melon bread delivers just enough flavor and crunch to satisfy your craving for something sweet and stimulating, while at the same time hiding its one undeniable weakness.

The center is just plain white bread.

Bakery Yamazaki Pan seems to have accepted the treat’s shortcoming, and has responded in a temptingly logical way: selling bags of just the crust.

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Ultra-premium green tea pudding costs more than a steak, is probably worth it

One of the first English lessons I taught in Japan was about how to use words like “everywhere” and “nothing.” As part of the class, the students had to practice making sentences with “everyone,” and one woman stood up and gave hers, which was “Everyone likes pudding.”

I’m not sure I’ve ever heard a truer statement. Pudding is universally popular. Even the very wealthy love it, which is why one company in Japan is now selling matcha green tea pudding made from such high-quality ingredients that it costs more than most meals that could precede the tasty dessert.

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Kit Kat’s papercraft train set is so cool we almost don’t need the chocolate it comes with

Living in Japan, we’ve been kind of spoiled by all the special Kit Kat flavors the country gets. We love a sweet snack as much as anyone, but when almost every region of Japan has its own version of the chocolate wafers, it takes something a little more unusual than matcha green tea Kit Kats to really grab our attention (not that those don’t taste delicious, of course).

So Nestlé Japan’s latest plan is to give us not just something to munch on, but a cool papercraft kit too, with this special Kit Kat bundle that also lets you build a model train.

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KFC Japan’s pumpkin biscuits ready to become tasty Halloween treats

Recently, Japanese branches of McDonald’s and Burger King have been getting into the Halloween spirit with spooky black burgers infused with squid ink and bamboo charcoal. This is a problem for KFC, though, since both of those ingredients are a little too exotic to mix with the Colonel’s traditional set of 11 herbs and spices.

Since KFC can’t celebrate Halloween by embracing its dark side, the most popular fried chicken outlet in Japan is instead turning to the holiday’s other icon by offering pumpkin biscuits.

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Häagen-Dazs Japan making ice cream classier than ever in Japan with wine and Opera flavors

Häagen-Dazs already has a pretty upmarket image, what with its high-quality ingredients, premium pricing, and fancy-sounding name. Apparently, though, the U.S.-headquartered ice cream brand’s Japanese division still thinks there’s room to grow in the classiness department.

Two mature treats are being added to the lineup soon, one which uses red wine and another which draws inspiration from a French dessert. And just in case those don’t sound regal enough, they’re topped with gold and silver.

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We raid the new Final Fantasy restaurant on our quest for drinks, desserts, and blue ramen

Earlier this year, we stopped by Artnia, the café run by video game publisher Square Enix, to munch on buster sword chocolates and drink material cocktails. Just as you’d expect from the company behind some of Japan’s biggest RPG franchises, though, there’s now an upgraded sequel, the Eorzea Café, with an even larger menu of Final Fantasy themed foods.

Led by our sense of adventure and gnawing appetite, we journeyed to the strange and wonderful land of Tokyo’s Akihabara to check it out.

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Traditional Japanese candy gets fancy: Konpeito comes in wine, chocolate, and green tea varieties

We’re sure you’ve seen those little bumpy balls of colorful sugar in Japanese candy stores. They’re called konpeito and were one of the first candies to be produced in Japan. They’re so popular that the little sugary spheres make guest appearances in several high-profile Japanese productions including Super Mario Galaxy, The Legend of Zelda, and Spirited Away (remember the little stars fed to the soot sprites?). But what is really just a blob of hardened sweet stuff that can be bought for less than 100 yen (US$1) starts to get really expensive when you add luxury flavors. Let’s take a look at some of the high-class konpeito you can buy in Japan, some of which costs as much as 8,500 yen ($78)!

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Tired of apple? McDonald’s Japan now has anko sweet red bean pies

Have you ever wondered what the equivalent of the phrase, “as American as apple pie,” would be in other countries? For other nations, what widely loved dessert produces that same mixture of traditional comfort and nostalgia?

For Japan, you could make a strong case for anko, or sweet red beans, which show up in all manner of snacks and sweets. As we’ve talked about before, anko makes everything better, and it’s about to do the same for the Golden Arches, as McDonald’s Japan is about to start selling anko pies.

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Japanese sweets and giant robots combine in a new anime series intriguing the Internet

If you’ve ever been to Kyoto, then you may know that the city’s food culture includes a rich history of traditional Japanese sweets, known as wagashi, which can be a perfect accompaniment to a day touring Kyoto’s famed temples. While many in Japan associate Kyoto with traditional sweets, a new anime series is about to take this aspect of the city’s food culture and combine it with a giant robot for a one-of-a-kind TV show.

Set in modern-day Kyoto, Domaiga D will center around a dessert shop owner who finds a giant robot beneath his shop right when the city is coming under attack by huge monsters.

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Tokyo ice cream stand’s colossal eight-flavor cones might be the biggest we’ve ever seen

Tokyo’s Nakano Broadway is mainly known for its anime specialty shops, but that’s not all you’ll find if you make your way to each corner of the shopping center’s labyrinthine interior. Inside you’ll also come across an old-school video arcade, suit tailor, watch store, and painting workshop for tabletop role-playing game lead miniatures.

But what we’re talking about today is what awaits visitors in Nakano Broadway’s basement: just about the biggest ice cream cones we’ve ever seen.

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Awesome treehouse café in Yokohama satisfies our longing for bagels, beer, and nature

Not too long ago, I ate ramen from a can on a Tokyo backstreet. It didn’t taste half-bad, but between the barkers for maid cafes and the homeless guy raiding the surrounding vending machines’ recycling bins for cans, it really didn’t make for the most elegant dining ambience.

But the great thing about Japan is the contrasting extremes you can find, and if eating in the middle of Tokyo’s concrete jungle by the soft glow of neon signs isn’t to your liking, you can always come on down to Yokohama, which has a café with plenty of natural sunlight thanks to the restaurant actually being an awesome treehouse.

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Häagen-Dazs Japan announces azuki bean ice cream, net users go wild

Ice cream is one of those foods that is so delicious, people tend to eat it year round regardless of the plunging temperatures around them. So for the past 15 years, Häagen-Dazs has been releasing special fall/winter flavors in Japan, such as the extremely popular rum raisin. But this year, the beloved ice cream maker has an azuki bean-flavored variety coming out in early October, and Japanese netizens are already clearing out space in their freezer to stock up.

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Tokyo Disney Sea adds pitch-black sausage, other spooky treats for Halloween

Japan has gotten into Halloween in a big way in the last few years. By mid-September, stores start putting up decorations and offering seasonal treats, even if the practice of trick-or-treating hasn’t really caught on here yet.

So it’s only natural that Halloween gets special treatment from another popular import, Tokyo’s Disney theme parks, as Disney Sea is offering up some spooky Halloween menu items, including a pitch black sausage.

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We ride the Honey Toast Train to a paradise of massive, decadent desserts

Spend some time walking around Tokyo, and you’ll soon see that the city is packed with karaoke joints. But with so many competing chains, how do you pick which one to go to?

For those looking for some tasty food as they belt out their favorite tunes, it’s hard to beat Pasela. Aside from their tropically styled rooms, the chain is best known for its extensive menu, with the most popular item being its famous honey toast dessert.

But what if you’ve got a special occasion, and even the whole-loaf-sized ordinary honey toast just doesn’t have enough impact? That’s when you call ahead and order a massive Honey Toast Train, a dessert so massive it’s garnished with other desserts.

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Artistic éclairs featuring Japanese woodblock print by Hokusai available for a limited time only

Fauchon, the long-established luxury food brand from Paris, is well-known throughout Japan as a purveyor of high quality teas and cakes, but it’s their famous éclairs that are considered the créme de la créme of the sweet world.

To celebrate Éclair Week, Fauchon has opened a pop-up café for a limited time in Shibuya, Tokyo. Pictured are two of the éclairs on offer, one celebrating the deep pink colour that’s come to be associated with the French brand, and one that’s a jaw-dropping edible rendition of a traditional woodblock piece by famous Japanese artist Hokusai.

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A tiny coffee stand in Japan is selling some of the most lifelike gummy bugs we’ve ever seen

The Japanese have long been known for their dexterousness. From origami to bonsai to precision engineering, Japan does small and detailed incredibly well. One thing we had no idea they were so good at, however, was gross.

What you see in the above photo, dear reader, is not in fact a trio of insect larvae but delicious, blueberry-filled gummy bugs. And they’re making one little coffee stand in northwest Japan very famous.

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