Bake Off Japan provides the same wholesome, endearing entertainment we know and love, with Japanese bakers, hosts, and judges!

Unless you for some reason hate wholesome television (or more likely cooking contest shows), you’ve probably been drawn in by the charms of the U.K.-based televised baking contest The Great British Bake Off. With lovable contestants, comedic hosts, exciting challenges, beautiful and tasty-looking pastries and cakes, and only the slightest bit of drama, it’s become an international sensation, more than just any old reality show.

Luckily for fans of the original Britain-based show who have already binged all of the episodes available online, there are lots of international spinoffs, including the most recent one that appeared on Amazon Prime Japan: Bake Off Japan. Having just been released on April 22, we took some time to watch it, and we gotta tell you–it’s just as good as the original!

In case you’re unfamiliar with the basic premise of the show, 10 amateur bakers compete in three challenges per episode, baking sweets, pastries, cakes, and bread according to a theme or to the instructions of the two judges, who are themselves professional bakers or patissiers. Every episode ends with the announcement of a Star Baker, the baker who performed exceptionally well that episode, and with an unfortunate (and usually tear-filled) elimination. At the end of the show, one very talented home baker is declared the winner.

▼ Actors Maki Sakai (left) and Asuka Kudoh (right) serve as hosts.

The Japanese version follows the very same pattern as the original Bake Off, with ten contestants, two hosts, three challenges per episode, and two judges who select a Star Baker at the end of each episode. The judges for the Japanese version are internationally renowned patissier Toshihiko Yoroizuka and bread artisan Yoshimi Ishikawa, who is active in both Japan and France.

▼ Yoroizuka (left) and Ishikawa (right)

Our Japanese-language reporter Kaori Saito, who was the one who got to write this review, has seen the original British version of the show, so she knew more or less what to expect. Like the British version, the contestants faced challenges that made Kaori really appreciate how delicate the baking process is, and how especially difficult it is to work within a time limit.

As we’ve mentioned, Bake Off episodes have three challenges, the Signature Challenge (called “Original Challenge” in Japanese), the Technical Challenge, and the Showstopper Challenge, and each challenge is conducted over a limited time frame. Bakers generally have recipes on hand to use for each challenge, but their ability to execute the recipes–in the allotted time–requires a significant amount of knowledge and skill to succeed. And let’s not forget the artistry required, as the look of the final product is often as important as the taste!

While the bakers are undoubtedly talented, they each have their strengths and weaknesses. Some are good at baking bread but not cakes, while some have never made pastries before,so each challenge provides fresh new hurdles for them to overcome.

Not only that, but things don’t always go to plan: perhaps the item won’t finish baking in time, or the cream won’t whip properly, or they put in milk instead of cream. In short, the Japanese contestants face the very same difficulties as the British contestants, and the result is an hour of tense anticipation for the viewer!

Additionally, just like in the original show, friendships develop between the bakers, who lend each other unused kitchen items and help out their panicked cohorts when they’ve finished ahead of time. Everyone is just so nice! In the interviews, the contestants always say they bake for others, like their significant others or their grandparents, and when one person is eliminated at the end of every episode, some people even cry to see them go. One of the hosts, Maki Sakai, also cries in the first episode while announcing the eliminated baker. It’s really wholesome how full of love everyone seems to be.

In the end, Bake Off Japan inspires the same sense of camaraderie with the viewer as does the original. We watch, enthralled, as the bakers work hard on their cakes, cheer when they manage to finish them in time, and feel disappointed when things don’t go to plan. Naturally, the caliber of sweets that the contestants create in Bake Off Japan can rival some of the most lauded bakes on British Bake Off, so we get the same beautiful visuals throughout the series as well. In short, if you like the original show, you’re going to love Bake Off Japan, and if you haven’t watched any Bake Off shows before, this is a great place to start!

Bake Off Japan is now streaming its first four episodes exclusively on Amazon Prime Video Japan, and the other four are expected to drop together on April 29. If you’re a fan, you won’t want to miss out! And if you’re looking for more Japanese reality TV to watch, don’t forget to check out the hotly debated show Old Enough on Netflix, and you can look forward to the new version of Takeshi’s Castle coming out on Amazon Prime next year!

Related: Amazon Prime Video Bake Off Japan Season1
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Insert images: YouTube/Amazon Prime Video JP – アマゾンプライムビデオ
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