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Japanese Bakeries-what makes them unique?

Japanese Bakeries - What Makes Them Unique?

When you think of Japan, what is the first thing you think of?  For a large number of people, rice would be top of the list.

In recent years this has been changing quickly in Japan. For example, in 2011 Japanese households spent more money on bread than rice for the first time ever. Additionally, annual rice consumption has dropped from a 1962 peak of 118 kg to 2020’s low of 51 kg. That is a decline of more than half!

As the economic post-war boom took off in Japan, it allowed Japanese bakers to travel abroad to European countries and learn traditional methods which were then brought back to Japan. This has since led to many uniquely Japanese styles of baked goods in the past 30-40 years, as well as taking popular European styles and refining them to fit the Japanese diet.

The best example of this would be Mont Blanc. With origins dating back to France as early as the 1600s, this has since become arguably the most iconic Japanese pastry. Made with a sponge cake base and layers of chestnut paste, this elegant looking dessert can be found at nearly every Japanese bakery, primarily in the fall and winter months.

Western desserts arrived in Japan in the early 1900s, but the onset of both world wars led to western ingredients not returning to Japan until the 1950s. Due to the difficulty sourcing these new ingredients, Japanese bakers began using native ingredients such as mochi, fruit, and sweet potato as substitutes. This is what led to the Japanese version of Mont Blanc, topped with a mix of chestnut paste and sweet potato rather than the traditional whipped cream.

Mont Blanc being just one example, you would be hard pressed to turn a corner in Tokyo or Osaka and not see a European-style bakery showing off visually-pleasing, delicious treats. If you are interested in experiencing this for yourself, you don’t have to go far!   Chez Kobayashi Pastries (, located on the west side of town, is a family-owned authentic Japanese bakery serving a plethora of delectable options made in-house. In addition to serving the aforementioned Mont Blanc and baked goods, they also serve coffee, crepes, and quiches.

Come experience the very best of Japanese food and culture in Houston with Houston Asiatown Tours                       

Dylan Coffey

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