Sweet Flavors of Fall: Enjoying Sweets in Japan

Among the many wonders of the fall season is that it brings about with it not only enchanting colors but a variety of flavors as well. A few weeks ago, I sat down with Yui, one of my best friends, to indulge in some of the season’s sweets. We originally recorded a video for it, but as luck would have it, the file got corrupted. Imagine the horror of devouring all these yummy treats, only to find out that the footage is unusable. Luckily, I managed to save some of the shots, so here they are, preserved in their aesthetic best, right before they made their way through our tummies.

Chestnut-flavored Bouchée/Anovan
JPY 300

Chestnut-flavored Bouchée by Anovan

“Busse” as it is pronounced in Japanese usually comes in different flavors, but come fall and the chestnut flavor joins the list of options as well. The filling was thick and full of flavor, but I wasn’t a big fan of the buns.

Yui, on the other hand enjoyed it, saying that it was a nostalgic taste for her. It reminded her of bakeries back in the Showa Period. (The name makes it sound old, but trust me, it’s recent history.) There are a lot of bakeries and pâtisseries in Japan now, but growing up in Akita Prefecture, Yui remembers that there were mostly two types of bread available back then: bread loaves and hotdog buns. These hotdog buns were usually filled with egg salad or yakisoba, which we can still see in convenience stores these days. There are also still a number of Showa style mom and pop bakeries tucked in the quiet corners of Tokyo, serving a slice of nostalgia to anyone who drops by for a taste.

Pumpkin Tart/a la campagne
~JPY 600 (Price varies according to location)

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We recorded the video prior to Halloween (yup, that long ago) so this pumpkin tart was one of the treats that we got our hands on. Pumpkin is among the prominent flavors in fall and it’s usually enjoyed in both sweet and savory flavors. This tart tasted a lot like pumpkin salad, with bits of walnut in it. We expected it to be chock-full of sugar but it was surprisingly smooth and refreshing, with the macaroon on top as the only distinctively sweet part of it.

Purple Sweet Potato Mont Blanc/ANTENOR
JPY 550

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Among the things that make Japanese sweets appetizing is their aesthetic appeal. At times they look too pretty to eat. This purple twist to the traditional mont blanc is one good example, with puréed purple sweet potato sitting on top of a chocolate almond base, topped with a thin, square slice of chocolate with the bakery’s name printed in gold.

It was a delight to the eyes, but because I’m not a fan of Japan’s purple sweet potatoes, I can’t say I enjoyed it as much. Mostly because our purple yams (ube) in the Philippines taste different, and a lot more delicious in my opinion. Yui loved it though, taking one huge bite after another as we ate.

Persimmon Tart/a la campagne
~JPY 600 (Price varies according to location)
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Kaki or persimmon is among the things I look forward to whenever fall season comes. The Philippines is not lacking when it comes to fruit varieties, but it wasn’t until I came to Japan that I first got to taste persimmon, and I immediately took to it.

Kaki-flavored sweets aren’t as common, however, or at least as far as I am aware of, which is why I was thrilled to see that a la campagne sells persimmon tart. The tart is layered with a mixture of pistachio cream and brown sugar, topped with delightful amounts of sliced persimmon. A great way to satisfy your persimmon craving!

Apple Cheesecake Gateau/Gin no Budō
JPY 648

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Technically, apples are more winter fruits than they are fall, but variations of these enchanting treat have been available in several shops as soon as the fall season kicked in. True to its name, it is shaped like an apple with a glossy red mousse exterior, sprinkled with gold dust. The branch and leaf are made of chocolate, while the inside is layered with cheesecake and apple gelée. All this gloriousness sits on a bed of crumble topping.

This was hands down my favorite among the sweets we tried. In fact, it was a challenge to put my fork down once we started gorging on it. I definitely recommend trying this, especially if you’re a cheesecake fanatic.

As November comes to an end, so does autumn. Much of Japan’s marketing operates on the keywords “limited seasonal offer,” so if you’re interested in any of the sweets we tried, make sure you check them out as soon as you can. The shops featured in this post have branches all around Tokyo, but if you want to get them all in one go, you can simply visit the sweets section of Tokyo Station as well as Daimaru.

If you have a favorite fall treat to share, leave a comment so I could go and check it out. It will potentially add more jelly to my belly, but next to a few slices of heaven, I’d say it doesn’t count as something to worry about.

Lastly, here’s to hoping the next time Yui and I record something, the file doesn’t sabotage us.

Enjoy the season while it lasts!

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