When is the border between summer and fall? According to Japan’s old calendar, fall starts in the first week of August, but most Japanese people think it’s from September since the temperature gets cool from September. In my past article “Cute animal-shaped desserts”, I wrote that goldfish is one of the things that reminds Japanese people of summer since catching goldfish is one of popular games at summer festivals. It is not only goldfish that makes people imagine that season in Japan. Although summer of this year was already over, let me tell you about some desserts that remind me of summer today.
うちわ煎餅 (Uchiwa senbei = Japanese paper fan-shaped rice crackers)
If you have read my article ‘Omiyage in Kanazawa’, you would notice that this ‘uchiwa senbei’ at once. It is common to use an air conditioner or fan when you are indoors, but how about when you are outdoors? Are you going to drink cold beverage, eat shaved ice, or try to escape to a convenience store where air conditioners are? Those are good ways to cool down your body but they are just temporary solutions. It might be a good idea to wear a hat, or to put up a parasol in order to make the shade, but it’s a different story in Japan where it’s hot and humid during summer. When the wind doesn’t blow at all, you are not able to feel cool even if you are in the shade. How about making breeze by using a “uchiwa” (paper fan)? It’s impossible to cool down your body, but it might help to make your sensible temperature down. That’s why using “uchiwa” is quite common during summer in Japan, and whenever we see it, we imagine breeze and hot days in summer.
すいか割り(Suika-wari = Water melon splitting)
In Japan, summer is the best season to eat watermelons. You can eat watermelons in early spring or the end of fall, but the price is higher than summer since farmers need to use greenhouse and it costs more. I know that some shops sell watermelon flavored jelly or sherbet/sorbet, but I had never known that there is a watermelon-shaped wagashi(=Japanese sweets) until I happened to find it at a Japanese-sweets shop. I was surprised to see that there are even seeds on the part colored in red! (Poppy seeds were used. I wonder how they put those tiny seeds on the small wagashi one by one.) *Suika-wari is the name of a game that people enjoy at beaches or river-sides. This dessert is tasty, but unfortunately its flavor is not like a real watermelon. Maybe I expected too much of it…
*What is Suika-wari game? A watermelon is laid out on newspapers or tarpaulins, and participants one by one attempt to smash the watermelon open. Each is blindfolded, spun around three times, and handed a wooden stick to strike with. The first person to crack the watermelon open wins. There are some local rules, and the one I know is that the winner has the right to choose which part of watermelon he/she wants, and the other participants share the rest of watermelon.
金魚ゼリー(Kingyo jelly = Jelly with small gold fish design)
I wrote about Kicho-an’s jelly in the article “cute animal-shaped desserts”, but this jelly is little bit different from Kicho-an’s. A small goldfish inside the jelly has two colors: red and white, and it has tiny eyes too! In addition to the goldfish, there are some small ball-shaped things made from sweet beans paste. Although jelly itself is not very sweet, the goldfish and the beans paste are sweet and they have good balance.
艶干錦玉(Tsuya boshi kin gyoku)
This dessert is very similar to ‘kaichin’ and ‘mori no oto’ (If you don’t know what they are, please read “Omiyage in Kanagawa”), and it is one of Japanese干菓子(Higashi). 干 means dry and 菓子 means confectionery, and this type of desserts contains very little moisture. Tsuya boshi kin gyoku is made from sugar, agar, and some food colorings. “Suika-wari” and “Kingyo jelly” go bad in about two days, but this ‘tsuya boshi kin gyoku’ lasts about two weeks since its amount of moisture is less than twenty percent. At first, I thought the flavor for red gold fish is strawberry, and blue cube is soda or blueberry flavor, but they weren’t…The flavors of red goldfish, translucent-white and blue cubes are all the same like “kaichin”, sugar taste.
You can buy the above three desserts at one shop called Kagurazaka Baikatei only during summer. “Suika-wari” and “kingyo jelly” cost 480 yen, and “tsuya boshi kingyoku” costs about 400 yen. (I forgot to take a memo of the price…)
Business hours: 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Address: 6-15 Kagurazaka Shinjuku Tokyo
The nearest station is Kagurazaka station of Tozai line, Tokyo Metro
花ババロア(Flower bavarois/Bavarian cream)
Unlike “suika-wari”, “kingyo jelly” and “tsuyaboshi kingyoku”, you can buy this dessert in a whole year, but I wanted to add it in this article since it is pretty. They use edible flowers for the jelly on top of Bavarian cream, and the types of flower are different depending on seasons. They have three different sizes and five different flavors of Bavarian cream: ‘Bouquet’ (The largest one, and its diameter is 15cm. The potion is for three or four people), ‘Fleur’ (The normal size with 7cm-diameter for one person) and ‘Pètale’ (The smallest one, and its diameter is 3.5cm) The flavors are vanilla yogurt, strawberry, orange, chocolate, and cream cheese. They also have matcha green tea flavor, but it is for ‘Bouquet’ only.
There are three shops that sell “Flower bavarois” as follows;
花のババロア(Hanano babaroa) havaro LAZONA KAWASAKI
Business hours: 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Address: 1F LAZONA KAWASAKI, 72-1 Horikawa-cho,
Saiwai-ku, Kawasaki-city, 212-0013 Kanagawa
*The nearest station is JR Kawasaki station, and the West exit is connected to LAZONA KAWASAKI.
花のババロア(Hanano babaroa) havaro TOKYO Me+ (Tokyo mitasu)
Business hours: 9:00 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. (Mon ~ Fri), 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. (Sat, Sun and Holiday)
Address: 1F TOKYO Me+ Tokyo station ichiban-gai,
1-9-1 Marunouchi, Chiyoda-ku, 100-0005 Tokyo
*Just outside of Yaesu North Gate of JR Tokyo Station
花のババロア(Hanano babaroa) havaro IKSPIARI
Business hours: 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. (Mon ~ Fri), 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. (Sat, Sun and Holiday)
Address: 1F The Court Yard, IKSPIARI, 1-4 Maihama, Urayasu-city, 279-8529 Chiba
*The nearest station is JR Maihama, and it takes about three minutes on foot from the station to IKSPIARI.