If one thing stands out particularly clearly in the streets of Japan, it is the endless number of sweet shops. From trendy tea or coffee houses offering a little something sweet with your beverage, through the numerous French-styled bakeries, to the traditional Japanese sweet shops, Japanese people have many delicious options to satiate their sweet tooth.
And as for their sweet tooth, Japanese people have a big one with over 90% of people admitting to liking sugary treats in My Voice’s 2013 March survey on sweets. But not only do they have a sweet tooth, they actually indulge it and quite often at that, with most people admitting to eating sweets from once to three times a week.
Following that, an online sweet specialty store asked its clients in August to deliberate on this fall’s favourite sweets, and in ad-equation with Japaneses preference for seasonal products, chestnut based Mont-Blanc was voted number one. The French cake ranked first (40%) out of 20 different types of sweets and cakes, followed by the Apple pie (31%) and the Cheesecake (27%).
However the most interesting part of the august survey is the overview of how sweets in Japan are bought, and online orders of sweets seems a growing trend (increasing from 31.2% in 2011 to 48.7% in 2013), as well as sweet consumption in general, as reported in “Tokyo retail foods” report.
Surprisingly they are not bought as gifts that you send to others (only 15%) but more as treats that you eat yourself (44%). In a country such as Japan where the culture of gift making is very entrenched in mentalities and has achieved the status of institution according to anthropologist Harumi Befu, this switch from sweets as gifts to sweets as personal consumption is quite note worthy.
Even more interesting is the fact that many of the cakes and sweets suggested for the survey, need to be eaten fresh and that is not stopping people from ordering them online. This is thanks to services such as ”宅急便ヤマト黒猫” (Yamato Black Cat rapid delivery service) that made delivering raw/ fresh / frozen goods common and trustworthy enough in Japan, that nobody would bat an eyelid at receiving ice-cream or cheese cake through the mail.
Not only is Yamato rapid delivery service capable of offering same-day delivery for the frozen products they convey with no damage (thanks to excellent packaging and careful handling), but they are also reasonably priced (between 1050 JPY (~10 USD) to 2080 JPY (~20 USD) ) and when you are not available to receive your package at home, it is kept in a refrigerated space at the closest storage facility, cost free.
Several well known Patisserie in Tokyo have, by using this rapid delivery service, set up online shops where you can order anything from the shop, from chocolates to ice creams. Others have joined online food retailers, the biggest of which being Amazon.jp, and offer approximately the same services, including the high quality packaging Japanese shops are well known for.
And for those of you gasping over the possible drop in service quality, if shrimp can make it alive and well, so can your cake in all its pristine packaging glory.