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What better way to start the new school year than with a cake shaped like a Japanese elementary school student’s backpack?

Celebrating its 125th year of business this year, the esteemed Imperial Hotel continues to welcome tourists, businesspeople and VIPs from around the world, offering a high standard of service along with an air of old grandeur to anyone who walks through its doors. This year, Gargantua—one of the stores on its premises—is offering a more modern-looking treat for a limited time during the spring season: a randoseru backpack cake.

▼ Gargantua opened in 1971 and was named after a connoisseur of fine food, a king from a novel by famous 16th century French writer Francois Rabelais.

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▼ Part of the “Spring Menu”, the edible backpack they’ve created comes in two varieties: strawberry mousse and banana mousse.

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We bought one of each to bring home, and when we took them out of their pack, they looked just as beautiful in the light of day as they did under the bright lights of the showcase in store.

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Randoseru backpacks are traditionally given to a child when they begin their first year of school in Japan, and are designed to withstand daily use throughout the child’s elementary school years. Purchased for them by a parent or family member in the lead-up to the start of the school year in April, the iconic backpack has become a symbol of spring and new beginnings.

▼ The limited-edition springtime cake is topped with another well-known symbol of spring in Japan: a delicate sakura cherry blossom.

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Many Japanese have fond memories of both their childhood randoseru and the journey to school entrance ceremonies, walking beneath the blooming cherry blossom trees.

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The pink cake backpack is wonderfully soft and filled with a beautiful, sweet strawberry jelly, encased in a mound of strawberry mousse. The cake’s colour, along with its floral embellishment, tricks us into thinking this is a sakura-flavoured sweet, so every mouthful comes as a pleasant surprise with the taste of strawberry fruit.

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The light and airy mousse melts wonderfully in the mouth, with a flavour reminiscent of strawberry ice cream. It’s a clever take on the familiar sweet flavours enjoyed in childhood, with the thin sponge layer bringing out a subtle cake texture and the biscuit base providing a satisfying layer of crunch. The tartness of the jelly centre, however, takes all the flavours out of the playground and into a more sophisticated sphere, providing a bittersweet flavour more suitable for grown-up palettes.

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The chocolate-covered backpack uses another flavour that conjures up memories of childhood sweets, with a thick banana mousse.

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The mousse has a lovely, soft hint of banana to it, which works wonderfully with the deeper, more complex burnt-caramel mousse at its centre. Combined with the chocolate sponge and biscuit base, every mouthful is a delightful combination of sweet and bitter flavours, which finishes with the rich, dark taste of the chocolate coating.

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The subtle details, high quality ingredients, and bittersweet flavours are a perfect way to reminisce over childhood years. Available until April 17 and priced at 864 yen (US$7.60) each, these palm-sized cakes make great gifts for parents with children going off to school for the first time. The teary experience of waving goodbye to a little one with a randoseru pack on their back is best eased with a randoseru cake in the belly!

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Shop information
Gargantua / ガルガンチュワ
Address: Tokyo-to, Chiyoda-ku, Uchisaiwai-cho 1-1-1, Imperial Hotel, Tokyo Main Bldg, 1st floor
東京都千代田区内幸町1−1−1帝国ホテル東京 本館1階
Open 8:00 a.m.-8:00 p.m.

Photos © RocketNews24

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