Recently we talked about a shop in Kanagawa Prefecture that sells styish kamaboko fish cakes decorated to look like the beautiful hydrangeas that bloom during Japan’s rainy season. But what if your palate runs more towards the sweet than the fishy, or your ideal of natural beauty isn’t the flowers growing from the soil, but the stars above?
In that case, one Kyoto confectioner has just the thing: sweet bean gelatin modeled after the Milky Way.
Yokan is a traditional dessert made from red bean paste and agar, and while it tastes great, it’s not much to look at, ordinarily.
▼ Visually, it’s the tofu of sweets.
We say ordinarily because Shichijo Kanshundo, a maker of Japanese sweets that opened in Kyoto in 1865, also has yokan that looks like this.
Sold only during June and July, the special Ama no Gawa (Milky Way) yokan celebrates Tanabata, the annual festival based on the legend of two lovers, represented by stars on opposite sides of the Milky Way, who can only be together for one night a year.
Most parts of Japan hold their Tanabata festivities on July 7. Unfortunately, this special celestial yokan, a pack of which costs 864 yen (US $8.50) and can be ordered here, is so popular that Shichijo Kanshundo won’t be able to ship the next batch of orders until after June 20.
Still, in some regions Tanabata festivals don’t take place until early August, by which time stargazers with a sweet tooth should have the Ama no Gawa yokan in their hands. Shichijo Kanshundo’s recommends serving the treat chilled, and while the company’s website doesn’t mention it specifically, we assume it’s implied that they taste best eaten outdoors, at night, under the summer sky.
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