confection; cake; sweets
Kanji 1047

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Japan produces desserts from the world over, but its traditional confections offer the most surprises. Find out how a Japanese "sweet" may not be sweet at all and how even a fried vegetable could qualify! Also learn about the connection between 菓 and the tea ceremony, a recurring confection fair in Japan, gift cakes and gift horses, and what gods in Japan like to eat and drink.

Revision history:

Feb. 24, 2022: 

  • p. 6: Where I say that senbei are flavored with soy sauce, I’ve added "often" before "flavored."
  • p. 16: Fixed a graphics problem.

June 22, 2021: p. 16: Updated Henshall’s etymology of 綿 in the Verbal Logic Quiz.

Jan. 17, 2020:

  • p. 2: Etymology Box: Replaced the old Henshall etymology with the new one. Also added a Kanjigen etymology.
  • p. 5: Added a section near the top on wagashi. Somehow I omitted that important word before.
  • p. 5: Replaced all instances of 糖菓 with 砂糖菓子 (さとうがし), which is much more common.
  • p. 15: Deleted a sidebar because I put that information in the p. 5 addition.
  • p. 15: Added a link to the Kanshudo games.

May 8, 2015:

  • p. 6: Changed the first paragraph of the photo caption to reflect that the dessert is a type of 羊羹 (ようかん: jellied dessert) made from sweet potatoes (芋).
  • p. 13 sidebar: Deleted a mention of an "upcoming" event that happened two years ago!

Oct. 31, 2013: p. 15: I added a sidebar.

June 22, 2013: p. 11 photo: Added a comment about Yakushima cedars.

Dec. 21, 2012: Originally published.


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