When you spend summer in Japan, you will notice that there is a festival related to the stars on the 7th of July every year. This festival, known as Tanabata, celebrates the annual meeting of the deities Orihime and Hikoboshi. It is custom for people to write their wishes on colorful strips of paper and tie them to bamboo grass. Many people look up to the sky and try to see stars on that day to hopefully get a glimpse of the Milky Way and recall the story of the, quite literally, star-crossed lovers.
Recently on various social media platforms in Japan, Tanabata desserts have been becoming widely popular. Among these types of sweets, one of the most popular is the “Amanogawa” youkan which is a traditional Japanese sweet bean jelly.
These sweets are only available in the summer either in store at the Kanshundo store in Kyoto, or online from the 1st of June to the 31st of August. This youkan is made up of a bottom layer of normal red bean paste jelly and upper layers that are a unique half transparent blue jelly with little specks of edible silver foil that gives the dessert a galaxy-like effect.
This Amanogawa youkan (or Milky Way youkan) is extremely popular not only for its breathtaking appearance but also for its amazing flavor. Youkan is a very popular dessert in Japan and I personally think that its mild sweetness matches the slight bitterness of green tea perfectly.
Apparently, they recently started making different colored versions of this dessert such as this pink version of the Milky Way. These sticks of youkan last for about a month after purchasing them, making them perfect edible souvenirs. Why not try them as a chance to taste and take a bite of the galaxy?
They are available for purchase on their website (*Japanese only) or in-store.