OK, admittedly, there are some products that are available all-year round, but especially around this time of year, you tend to see stuff that is only available at the beginning of summer, and only for a limited time. Today, I'm going to post some pictures of snacks etc. that I've found and enjoyed so far.
Let me just start by saying that I just enjoy citrus flavored stuff in general. I mean, from back home, I really miss those Sunkist little sugar gels you know? They're round and soft and they melt in your mouth. You can have the pink and red Sunbursts; give me the orange and yellow ones. When I ate Runts, I used to eat the banana and apple ones first to leave behind just the orange and green ones, so I could enjoy just the orange and green alone. I'd do the same with any other snack, like Brite Crawlers, Skittles, Life Savers, you name it! My favorite Flintstones push-up was orange. I used to buy boxes and boxes of Lemon Heads.
That said, here is some of what I've seen this year so far.
So a couple of posts ago, I talked about daifuku, which is basically stuffed mochi. Last week, I found these Lemon Daifuku. There were three in a pack.
They were alright; the texture was as good as any other daifuku, but the center was a lemon filling. The lemon flavor was there, but there wasn't the sour punch I was expecting. Overall I was satisfied with my purchase.
Next up are these "Lemon Glaze Cake Hachimitsu Biscuits." (Hachimitsu = honey)
Lemon and honey are often a pair in Japan. During this time of year you'll find a lot of "hachimitsu lemon" stuff. The texture of these were like a soft, powdery snap. They have a nice outer coating of glaze, with a sour lemon punch inside. I really enjoyed these.
Next up is this individually packaged doughnut.
This was really enjoyable. It felt like I was enjoying a Krispy Kreme doughnut but with lemon frosting instead of plain honey glaze. Since the doughnut was packaged and sold in an air-conditioned convenience store, it was cold; the lemon flavor added a refreshing quality that I really enjoyed.
Next up is this "lemon nack." It caught my eye as I was strolling through my local supermarket.
I'm afraid that the only lemon flavoring on this cake was the thick outer glaze, and then the flavor wasn't even that strong. A common complaint I have about Japanese sweets is that they're a lot milder than they look. When I first had a chocolate glazed doughnut at a Mister Doughnut here, I was expecting it to be as chocolatey as chocolate glazed doughnuts are back home; big disappointment. It was as if I was eating a rubber-covered doughnut. The glaze had very little chocolate taste to it. My Japanese friends swear the chocolate is rich and almost unbearable. I can only imagine what a chocolate Hostess cupcake would do to them. Needless to say, this cake was a bit of a disappointment. Over all, it was "meh," as it felt like I was eating cake with yellow, flavorless frosting. The frosting almost tasted like just fat. I'd never get this again.
I forget where I bought this "Lemon Chiffon Cake."
On the outside, it looks almost exactly the same as the cake that I bought earlier, but this one is slightly bigger. The lemon taste was more palpable in the frosting on this one. The cake was soft and fluffy, and the overall taste was lemony goodness that I wouldn't mind paying for again.
The following is a pastry I found at a local bread shop.
Let me just tell you about Japanese bread shops. There's nothing quite like a Japanese bread shop where you can buy bread and pastries freshly made. Everything back in the states is pre-packaged and has been sitting on the shelf for a while. At a Japanese pan-ya-san (パン屋さん) or bakery, stuff is always fresh. You can tell you're walking right by one, because the warm smell of fresh-baked bread is in the air.
When I saw this lemon pastry was on sale, I just had to give it a try! The outer crust was flaky and crispy, and the filling was nice and sour. I had to go get another one! I asked the lady working the register and sure enough. this is a seasonal snack that won't be around for too long. I've got to come back here and enjoy it as much as I can. Who knows if it'll be back next year?
I bought this at my local supermarket.
Papico is a cold snack that is usually flavored with coffee and milk. The way you enjoy it is, you rip the top off, and you squeeze the frozen snack out and eat it. It's an improvement on the Bolis ice pops, if you asked me. (Anyone remember those?) Bolis were great, except there were always super frozen, and the end was so narrow, you had to keep chewing the ice through the plastic to break it up, and/or wait for it to melt. And then by the time you were almost finished, you had sucked out all the flavor, and all that was left in it was flavor-less ice you debated about sucking out further. The opening at the end of a Papico bottle is broad, and the Papico itself is of a viscous consistency, almost like Slurpee, allowing it to flow through the opening as it gets warmer.
Occasionally Papico comes in different flavors, but when I saw they had a lemon flavored one, I just had to try it! I've never seen this flavor before. This has got to be a seasonal thing that won't be around for long. I liked it so much I went to get a couple more. :-)
The following was an omiyage (お土産) that a friend brought over. (A friend came to visit me recently from Hiroshima.)
It's called "Lemon Jewlry," but it's a play on words. In Japanese "Jewelry" and "Jelly" can sound almost the same. (Compare ジェリー and ジュエリー) Perhaps they were aiming for a shiny, glistening image? My friend told me it had to be chilled for a few hours first, which I did. I actually enjoyed this. Real cold, real sour. I think it's safe to say that it tastes as good as it looks. My only complaint is the small portions it comes in. Open one, and it's basically over in a flash. But other than that, I really liked the sour flavor of it.
Admittedly, this drink can be found at almost any time of the year, but it is especially enjoyable during the summer. The labeling on the can says there is 50 lemons' worth of vitamin C in the drink. A claim that I find hard to believe; even if true, the amount is ludicrous, as you just piss most of it out. That said, I really like this drink. It's fizzy, deliciously sour, and a cold can really hits the spot on a hot summer day.
I'm recalling my first exposure to Japanese pop music. Back when I was in my teens, a Japanese-American friend who knew I was into Japanese language and culture, lent me some 45 rpm records of Japanese music popular when she was young. I knew the music would be a bit dated, but at that point, any Japanese music was good, so I was excited to give them a listen. The first Japanese pop song I ever heard in my life was a song called "Remon no Kissu" (Lemon Kiss) by a group called "The Golden Half."
It may have been dated, but this was my first exposure to Japanese pop-culture, and I still remember it to this day.