One of the best things about learning Japanese and visiting Japan is getting to eat all the delicious food! And after you’re done eating your meal, why not finish it off with a treat for dessert?
The Japanese word for candy is 菓子 (kashi) and it can be used for any and all types of sweets in Japan. When it comes to candy, Japan does it WAY differently from everyone else! But what is Japanese Candy? And how can you get some?!
I wanna’ show you these 5 菓子 (kashi) and tell you a little about each one. Who knows, maybe you’ll want to eat some of them. Or ALL of them! ^_^
Soy milk candy
Does it sound weird to like soy milk candy? Well lots of people do! Maybe this was a candy specially designed for kids since it’s made from a combination of sugar and protein.
There are a lot of flavors that you would probably consider pretty normal like strawberry, banana, vanilla, and coffee. But there are also some flavors that might make you say “whaaaaat?” like grilled sweet potato, roasted soybean powder, and even black sesame! What do you think those ones would taste like?
Some people are allergic to dairy and others just try to avoid it. Using soy as an alternative is one option that has some advantages. Soy has all nine of the amino acids that are the essential ones. They help to keep your immune system strong.
It’s also got some riboflavin (that’s a fancy name for vitamin B-2) and some vitamin B-12 which both help your cells to build DNA. With all these good things you’d think people would munching on them all day long! But there’s still lot of sugar in them. So, it’s not 100% good for ya’.
Get ready for some good ol’ ramune! This is one of those treats that every Japanese person has had, and you should too if you get the chance. As you can see from the picture above, ramune is fruit flavored soda.
What’s really interesting is the way you actually open it. It doesn’t twist open like American soda bottles. You see, ramune bottles are made of glass and sealed with a marble.
To open them, you first remove that outer seal and then use the bottom of the cap (it has a point to it) to break a second seal. But hold on when you do! Or else the carbonated soda will explode out!
There are over 30 different flavors of ramune! Some normal ones are banana, mango, grape, and cherry. Some not so normal ones are champagne, kimchi, crem stew, and chili oil. Imagine drinking some of those!
What I find most interesting is which colors the Japanese assign to each fruit. Let me ask you, what color do you think banana is?
Most people would say yellow (that’s what I would say). But it’s actually the white ramune that is banana flavored! What about Strawberry? What color would you normally think that would be? I would say pink or maybe red, but the Japanese say green. Pretty neat!
Last thing, do you know what ラムネ (ramune) means? It’s the loan word for lemonade which was the original flavor!
Fue Ramune, whistle candy
One of the things I learned about the Japanese is that they LOVE to play with their food! Well, really it’s their candy that I’m talking about. I always got in trouble for it, but then again my candy wasn’t specially designed to be used as a whistle!
To me, these look just like Lifesaver mints that we can get here in the States. But I gotta’ admit that these フエラムネ (fue ramune) are WAY cooler! They are ramune flavored (of course, it’s in the name) and each one comes with a toy in a box. Yes, I feel like I’m five years old again! 🙂
These are also super cheap to buy. I did a little digging around on the internet and most of the stores that I found sell it for only a few dollars per pack. So check it out if you like!
Now we get to see some rabbit-shaped, traditional Japanese confection! These good looking treats are called うさぎまんじゅ (usagi manju). They are basically rabbit shaped dumplings. As you might have guessed, うさぎ (usagi) is the Japanese word for rabbit, and まんじゅ(manju) is a steamed bread or cake. Lots of people actually make these themselves at their homes.
I think it’s interesting to see how two different cultures depict the same animal. In America, most rabbits in cartoons are illistrated as having gray fur with black eyes – think Bugs Bunny. But in Japan, they normally portray them as having white fur and red eyes.
I recently watched an anime called Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? (Short version: Danmachi). The main character is named Bell and when people in the anime would talk about him they would say he looked like a rabbit. Can you guess what he looks like?
Yep, you guessed it: an うさぎ!
We have come to the fifth and final Japanese sweet for today. It’s called なごやん (nagoyan) and it is a steamed bun. If you’ve watched any anime or read any manga, then you’ve DEFINITELY seen these before. They are pretty much loved by everyone!
You have to mix some honey, egg, and sugar to make the outside bun. Then you bake it! And that yummy looking inside is an egg yolk sauce.
Who knows, maybe you don’t like egg and would rather have one of the other sweets. But if you DO like eggs, then this is the one for you!
Are you hungry yet?
So there you have it. Five yummy 菓子 (kashi) for you to try out on your next visit to Japan. I put up quite a few different ones in this post, but there are tons and tons of others in Japan.
I was first introduced to a lot of Japanese 菓子 (kashi) by watching the anime Dagashi Kashi which is a show about a kid who runs his dad’s candy store in Japan. It’s actually a really good show!
If you do check out the anime, and you’re not from Japan, then you are in for a treat (heh!) as each episode introduces a new 菓子 (kashi) that you’ve probably never seen before. It also talks about how each 菓子 (kashi) were originally created and why. Super cool!
That’s all for now! Stay tuned for the next time I talk about yummy 菓子 (kashi)!
Have you had any Japanese candy before? Which ones are your favorites? Have you tried any of the above 菓子 (kashi)? Let me know with a comment!