Japan is really fond of these little red beans called Azuki (Adzuki). They are grown all around East-Asia and are used a lot in in all types of foods, like hot dishes, soups, porridge, confectionery, etc. Most popular however is the sweetened Azuki paste called Anko, which turns out to go really well with Matcha.
Check out this really nice matcha cake with anko filling for example. Would you be able to resist it? Right 😉
Alas, a freshly prepared cake like this will be out of reach for many of us westerners. Unless you feel like paying $$$ to fly it across oceans and continents in a couple of days. Not the best of ideas indeed.
After konnichiwa and sayonara, kawaii must be one of the first Japanese words anyone gets to learn. “Cute”ness is very important in Japan. It is to be found everywhere from characters in animation series and mascots in commercials to the way girls dress up, resulting in an abundance of Lolita like characters all over the place.
No wonder that “Hello Kitty” stemmed from Japanese minds as well. This cute girl (yes she seems to be a girl after all!) has taken the world by storm. For those of you who have missed her somehow, this is she:
Hello Kitty was invented by Sanrio, who made it into a really succesful merchandise. You can even find Hello Kitty themed restaurants like this one in Kyoto for example: