Japanese Chocolate and Japanese Fiction


Chocolate.

This is the first in a new series of posts, and I don’t know how many there will be, on chocolate.

Because chocolate.

My intention is to share some unusual chocolate thing and tell you why it’s remarkable.

First up is an unwrapping (exciting!) and review of three chocolate samples sent to me from Japan by author Susan Spann. It’s remarkable to me because I don’t have access to Japanese chocolate bars, and because Japan is known for their…expansive approach to snacks and sweets. Though I think these will be pretty straightforward. (I hope, at least, that I’m not surprised by fried squid in the middle or anything.)

Oh, and in case you missed it, Susan’s newest installment in the Shinobi Mysteries is out this week! Betrayal at Iga released Tuesday. Even outside of that sexy cover, I’m excited because while Hiro and Father Mateo’s adventures are always interesting and fixed firmly in contemporary Japanese events, in this novel they go to Iga, home of the ninja clan. And seriously, ninja village. Let’s go.

But that’s not the only Japanese-setting fiction happening this week.

Yesterday I got this cover for Tales of the Sunrise Lands, an anthology of Japanese-set fantasy. The cover depicts the mythological Susanoo and the Yamata no Orochi, a seven-headed dragon. What do you think?

Tales of the Sunrise Lands cover, with print of Susanoo and the Yamata no Orochi

Kitsune-Tsuki

This releases this weekend only in the UK (no online link) but should be coming to Amazon and North American booksellers soon. Inside you’ll find a brand new story in my Kitsune Tales series! So if you’re a fan of Tsurugu the onmyouji and twin mischief-makers Kaworu and Genji, you’ll definitely want to grab this, for that story and the others of a fantastic and Japanese vein. If you’re not familiar with that series, don’t worry, there’s still time! or this story can also be read as a stand-alone. Susanoo and the Yamato no Orochi figure into the background of my own story, so I’m pleased to see them on the cover.

I’ll let you know as soon as it’s available for purchase. Coming soon!

Also, if there’s a chocolate thing you think I should definitely try and share, please do let me know. Because chocolate and fantasy go together like… anything and chocolate.

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3 Comments

  1. Well so much for that. I included links to the websites for the candy companies, but that was “too many URLS” and then the interface barfed when I tried to go back and edit. Oh well. I should know to save my writing by now. :D

    Meiji is a well known candy company that I remember fondly from when I lived in Japan. They have an English language website that you can Google. The milk chocolate bar is prominently featured.

    Dars is a brand made by Morinaga who also have an English language website. Morinaga candy was always tasty, but I believe the Dars brand came about after I left Japan. I do like dark (or black) chocolate.

    Black Thunder was the most fun to chase down. It’s made by Yuraku and while I didn’t find an English-language website during my quick Google search, I found that the “Kyoto Kitsune Shop” offers Black Thunder seasonally (too hot in the summer according to the website). I figured you’d like the name.

    Black Thunder does have a Wikipedia page and I found the following of interest: “To give the product some “impact” with consumers, it was decided to name it after the Japanese god of thunder, Raijin. Although the name of the product uses the English words “Black Thunder” (pronounced or transliterated as Burakku Sandah), the outer package also carries the Japanese kanji term for the product in a smaller font (黒い雷神 – kuroi raijin).”

    As for the crunchy yummies within, “dark cocoa-flavored cookie pieces mixed with Japanese-style crisped rice, and finally coated with dark milk chocolate.”

    All of the above candy bars are available on Amazon, though you do need to know to look, and thoughtful gifts are always more fun to receive anyway.

    Thanks for the unwrapping and tasting. Now I’m jonesing for some good Japanese chocolate. :)

    Take care – Brook

    • Thanks, and I’m so sorry your comment got munched!

      I deliberately didn’t Google these before trying them, as I wanted a blank slate of expectations and a “raw, authentic experience.” (#nofilter #pretentious) I actually suspected they’d be on Amazon, because so much is (including my fave perfume made in one tiny perfumery in Ireland!), but again, I didn’t want to look in advance. Adventure!

      But I’m really glad you took the time to offer some background! And you’re right, I did appreciate the Kyoto Kitsune Shop’s name. ???? (I wonder if you can order by number of tails?)

      I went over to the Meiji site and found they have a Policy on Human Rights which prohibits the use of forced or child labor — and this is a big thing, because slavery and child labor is so prevalent in chocolate production. (More on that in a future chocolate post.) So that was good to find!

      Thank you for your help!
      Laura VanArendonk Baugh recently posted…Japanese Chocolate and Japanese FictionMy Profile

  2. Yay! I’m so glad you liked the chocolates (and thanks for the shout-out for IGA too)!

    Hilarious moment while I was watching this … my cat Oobie came into the room, heard you talking, and jumped up on the desk and started meowing at the screen. This isn’t normal behavior — she “talks” with me regularly, but usually pays no attention to the computer, even when videos play. Apparently, she likes your voice and wanted to chat with you too. She kept it up until almost the end of the video.

    Next time you’ll have to come to Japan with me and try even more! (They love chocolate over there.)

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