sweets

Manga legend Shigeru Mizuki’s longevity seems to come from lots of burgers and desserts

Shigeru Mizuki is one of Japan’s most loved comic artists, having created the manga Ge Ge Ge no Kitaro in 1959. Although the serial ended after a 10-year run, the light-hearted story about the traditional Japanese spirits called yokai still has a strong following today, thanks to multiple animated and live-action adaptations premiering as recently as 2008.

Mizuki isn’t resting on his laurels either, despite turning 92 next month. He started a new manga series just last December, and the energetic nonagenarian has recently released a book cataloguing the eating habits that have resulted in his long life. So what does his diet consist of? A surprisingly large amount of junk food.

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Tokyo’s eight favorite places to get dorayaki, Japan’s favorite sweet bean cake

While green tea ice cream and the chocolate snack sticks called Pocky are some of the most famous Japanese sweets abroad, they are both fairly recent additions to the cultural landscape of Japan. The history of Japanese confectionaries stretches back for generations before the introduction of those two modern treats, and one favorite of Japanese residents with a sweet tooth is the sweet bean cake known as dorayaki.

But while the upside to the popularity of dorayaki is that you’re never far from a store selling them, with so many suppliers, how are you supposed to pick one, especially when your stomach is growling and your mouth is watering? Simple, by consulting this guide to eight of the best dorayaki shops in Tokyo.

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Final Fantasy Chocolates: The gift your gaming Valentine actually wants

Last weekend I was at a department store in Tokyo, and since Valentine’s Day is coming up, the confectionary section was packed with candy makers hawking limited-edition chocolates for the romantic holiday. As I looked at all the sweetness on display, though, something struck me.

In Japan, women give chocolate to the special guy in their life, but the aesthetics are still entirely feminine. I saw dozens of candies shaped like hearts, ribbons, and even teddy bears and other cute woodland animals.

While the craftsmanship was impressive, none of the designs were the sort of things men actually want for themselves, especially when they could have these awesome Final Fantasy chocolates instead.

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Historic Los Angeles donut shop makes our trip across the sea completely worthwhile

In many ways, Japan is a wonderland of desserts, a place with cherry blossom lattes, roasted tea parfaits, and even suicide-themed bean cakes. Still, the country is rather lacking when it comes to donuts. The indigenous Mr. Donut chain has branches all over, but while their products are indeed tasty, they’re usually a little on the bland side.

If you want the full-fledged flavor of an authentic donut, you’ve got to visit one of the American outfits in Japan, such as Krispy Kreme or Donut Plant. Unfortunately, Donut Plant locations are few and far between, and the lines at Japan’s Krispy Kremes are ridiculously long, so there’s no way for us to get our hands on the real deal without a bit of time and travel.

Since we’d already tossed subtlety out the window as far as flavor is concerned, we decided to do the same for the scale of our search for donut satisfaction. We hopped on a plane, leaving the Land of the Rising Sun and heading for the Land of the Ring-Shaped Cake, America.

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How sweet! Fans send 8,000 boxes of Valentine’s Day chocolate to one anime character

Unlike in the West, in Japan it’s primarily girls who hand out gifts of chocolate on Valentine’s Day. Although the most common pattern is for a woman to give sweets to her boyfriend or secret crush, the holiday’s scope has been expanded to include relatives, coworkers, or any guy whose kindness she feels indebted to, regardless of whether there’s any romantic sentiment involved or not.

In recent years, the recipient doesn’t even have to be a real person, as this giant haul of Valentine’s Day chocolate for a single anime character proves.

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Starbucks Japan’s sakura drinks: One more reason we’re ready for winter to be over

Is it spring yet? I know my southern Californian upbringing means I whine whenever the temperature is cold enough that I have to put on a jacket to go out, but I could seriously do with some warmer weather right about now. There’s all sorts of things to look forward to in the coming season, such as longer days, being able to spend more time outdoors, and the blooming of the sakura, or cherry blossoms.

And just in case the deal needs any more sweetening, there’s also Starbucks’ springtime sakura beverage lineup.

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Survey reveals that Japan’s kids would rather bake cakes and score goals than cure illnesses

Kids’ hopes and dreams for the future can change from one minute to the next and very often depend on the TV shows they watch and whatever their friends are talking about on any given week. But a recent survey conducted by human resource consulting company Adecco has revealed some interesting information about the future aspirations of children from Japan compared to those of kids from other eight other Asian countries.

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Suicide cakes – Sweets to die for

Among the many kinds of tasty sweets indigenous to Japan, you’ll find the monaka. Monaka consist of two wafers, traditionally sandwiched around a dollop of the sweet red bean paste called anko.

Different confectioners put their own unique spin on monaka, such as infusing it with citrus or mixing ice cream in the filling. But while we’ve eaten plenty of variations on the tasty treat, our intrepid reporter Mr. Sato recently brought back one we’d never heard of before: suicide monaka.

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Awesome Japanese expressway rest stop lets you travel back in time, dine like a samurai

Growing up in Southern California, I was no stranger to long road trips, whether up the coast to visit relatives, or out to Las Vegas to visit the craps tables. Along the way I’d pass many freeway rest areas, with amenities whose quality ranged from “a good place to use the bathroom as long as you cover your nose” to “a good place to use the bathroom, as long as you have a friend with you to make sure you don’t get shanked by a hobo.”

So imagine my surprise when I moved to Japan to find that its highway rest stops (called “parking areas” by Japanese motorists) are spotless. Plus, they’re often great spots to munch on regional specialties or pick up local souvenirs. And if you happen to visit one particular parking area, you can even go back in time.

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Cat paws strike again and captivate Japanese netizens, this time in pancake form!

It’s no secret that here at RocketNews24, we’re fond of anything cute and sweet, and we’ve certainly introduced our share of adorable-looking treats on our site, from totoro cream puffs and macaroons to marshmallow cat paws. Well, continuing in that spirit, we bring to you another delightful creation that looks too precious to eat! This time it’s a home-cooked snack that basically involves making pancakes, but the end result is still devastatingly cute!

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No grown-ups allowed! Chef with a very sweet motive opens a kids-only sweets shop

Children in Sanda City, Hyogo Prefecture currently have good reason to celebrate, as a huge new sweets shop officially opened in their town on December 7. But the news gets even sweeter: only kids in sixth grade or younger are allowed inside! Sounds like any child’s wildest fantasy come true, right? Parents must wait outside (and no doubt prepare themselves for the inevitable sugar-high antics to come) while their children explore the hidden wonders within.

Join us after the jump for a rare glimpse inside the shop and read what inspired the owner to open it in the first place.

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We get ready for romance by eating Krispy Kreme’s limited edition Valentine’s Day donuts

With less than a month to go until Valentine’s Day, Japan has got sweets on the brain. Japanese tradition dictates that, on the special day, women give gifts to men, including at least one form of chocolate.

But while common opinion holds that homemade chocolate is best, not everyone has the culinary skills or free time to whip up a batch. So for those of you looking for the next best thing, we bring you our taste test of Krispy Kreme Japan’s three limited edition Valentine’s Day flavors.

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We eat tasty, steaming Korean poo cakes

It’s been a little more than a year since we reported on ttongsul, or Korean feces wine. And while many of our readers enjoyed sampling the beverage vicariously through the five victims brave young ladies we recruited for the taste test, others took us to task for not having our regular staff knock back a glass of dookie-liqueur.

In an attempt at penance, we traveled to Korea to snack on poo-shaped cakes.

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How to master the elements by setting ice on fire, then eating it 【Recipe】

Recently, Meg, one of our RocketNews24 colleagues from our Japanese-language sister site, came to us raving about a great dessert she’d just tried. Since we’re always thinking about food, we were happy to listen as she gushed. “It’s called yakigori,” she informed us, “and people have been making it in Japan for over 100 years!”

“Oh, you mean, kakigori, right?” we responded, mentioning the Japanese word for shaved ice. “Yeah, we have that overseas, too. By the way, you should really take some medicine for that cold.”

“No, not kakigori, yakigori,” Meg insisted. To help us understand, she even wrote it down in Japanese. We read the kanji characters, 焼き氷, once, then double checked it. There was no mistake, though. Meg was talking about a dessert named “roasted ice.”

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Up all night? Tokyo-area late-night restaurants are standing by with ramen, donuts

For about 17 hours a day, urban Japan’s public transportation system seems like the greatest thing in the world. Clean, punctual, well-mannered, and convenient, it’s the perfect way to get around major cities like Tokyo and Yokohama.

But sometime after midnight, the trains, subways, and busses all stop running. Sure, you could always hop a taxi home, but cabs in Japan charge a special surcharge late at night. So unless you feel like shelling out the 5,000 to 10,000 yen (US $50-$100) for a ride to the suburbs, you’re either spending the night in a capsule hotel or hanging around somewhere until the trains start up again around 5 a.m..

The almost complete absence of street crime in Japan means you’re unlikely to get hassled or mugged, even in the seedier parts of town. You will, however, eventually get hungry. Thankfully, when you do, these awesome late-night eateries are ready to serve you.

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7-Eleven’s One Piece “Gomu-Gomu no Mi”: Looks kind of like an alien brain, but it sure is tasty

Always keen to cash in and come up with some new character-themed promotions, Japan’s 7-Eleven recently began selling blueberry and whipped cream-filled bread made to look like none other than Gomu Gomu no Mi Devil Fruit from the One Piece manga and anime.

We couldn’t resist finding out what the fruit that made Monkey D. Luffy the man he is tastes like, so when we spotted the new sweet bread at our local combini we grabbed one right away. Join us after the jump for our full taste test.

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Chocolate-covered squid, wasabi Kit Kat, and other anomalies of the Japanese snack food scene

Japan is a crowded country, and that goes for just about everything. Even store shelves are crowded. Most people do their shopping on foot, which means supermarkets and convenience stores tend to be on the small size, and shelf space is always at a premium.

As such, companies have to do something to make their products stand out. This is why so many Japanese beverages and snack foods have seasonal flavors that are only available for a limited time. Of course, taste engineers in Japan can only come up with so many normal flavors, and when they run out, the only thing to do is go on to the abnormal flavors.

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We try milk yaki, a treat from Japan’s chilly north that tastes great but somehow contains no milk

As one of Japan’s northernmost prefectures, the majority of regional delicacies in Akita are things to warm the body up. For example, Akita’s most famous dish is kiritampo, a hot-pot with chicken, vegetables, and unique cylindrical rice cakes. In recent years the prefecture’s inaniwa udon noodles, thinner than those common in other parts of Japan, have also been steadily gaining fans, as well.

But while there’s nothing wrong with some piping hot chow to fortify yourself with on a snowy night, what about dessert? Sure, you could make do with a plain old pack of cookies from the convenience store, but if you want to satisfy your sweet tooth like the locals do in Akita, you need to get your hands on the pastry known as milk yaki.

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Linguistic complications of melon bread cream puffs can be reduced to a single word: delicious

Despite its pronunciation in Japanese coming out unnervingly close to “shoe cream,” choux crème does not, in fact, refer to a product to keep your wingtips looking their shiniest. More commonly known in North America as cream puffs, choux crème are one of the many non-indigenous desserts popular in Japan.

In similarly confusing fashion, the popular chain Beard Papa sells neither razors, lawnmowers, easy chairs, nor any of the other trappings assorted with fatherhood and/or having facial hair. Beard Papa is instead Japan’s most prolific choux crème bakery, and for the next two months they’re bringing back their popular melon bread-inspired cream puffs.

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All-you-can-eat cookies!!! Aunt Stella’s cookie buffet opens in Ikebukuro Station

Japan is wild about dessert cafes and pastry shops. From donuts to pretzels to cakes, the nation’s sweet-tooth knows no bounds, and you’ll find baked sugary treats almost anywhere in the city. “So what makes this new store special?” you ask. Well, it’s not your typical sweet shop, but in fact an all-you-can-eat cookie buffet!

This Wednesday, a new location for the popular dessert chain Aunt Stella’s Cookies opened up in Tokyo’s Ikebukuro. And Aunt Stella has cooked up a bunch of tasty specials to celebrate the move!

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