Delving into the depths for daifuku.

Osaka’s Umeda Station is sometimes called the “Umeda Dungeon,” on account of the labyrinthine layout it needs as the nexus of so many different train and subway lines. But even if it can be hard to find your way around Umeda, the dungeon metaphor also works in the sense that you can discover some very cool treasures there, which is what our Japanese-language reporter MG Ogawa recently did.

MG had heard that there’s a new popup store space in the station called Metro Opus. That’s not so unusual, as most major rail stations in Japan have at least some shopping facilities. But what’s unique about Metro Opus is that even after the shop closes at 9 p.m. and the sales staff goes home, you can still make purchases from the Metro Opus vending machine until midnight.

Since it’s a popup store space, Metro Opus’ wares change frequently, but MG knew he needed to delve into the Umeda Dungeon when he found out that the current tenant is Osaka confectioner Kasho Asada. Luckily, he was able to navigate the maze and reach the Metro Opus vending machine, which stands near the ticket gates for the Midosuji subway line.

Looking at the treasures held within, he saw that many of them were wagashi (traditional Japanese sweets) made with Amaou, the prized strawberries grown in Fukuoka Prefecture.

It didn’t take long for MG to make his selection, though, as he quickly decided on a bundle of two Amaou daifuku mochi dumplings for 756 yen (US$6.10).

The Metro Opus vending machine only accepts cashless payment, but thankfully it gives you a lot of options within that category, so you can use credit cards, prepaid e-money cards, and even rail commuter passes.

After a short wait, the retrieval compartment at the bottom of the machine opened up, and MG’s purchase was waiting for him in a classy box with a handle.

Then he hurried home (which was easy to do, since he was already at the subway station). As soon as he got through the door, he sat down to enjoy his desserts.

You actually get two different kinds of strawberry daifuku with this set. One of them with white anko sweet bean paste, and the other with regular red anko and whipped cream.

While you could just pop the whole dumpling into your mouth, they each come with a string with a note attached that says “Please use this to cut the daifuku.” Not only does this give you a more manageable bite size, it also lets you admire/photograph the cross-section and the beautifully vivid red color of the Amaou strawberries.

They weren’t just beautiful, but delicious too, though in separate ways. In the whipped cream and red anko daifuku, it’s the sweet flavors of the cream and bean paste that make the biggest impression on your palate, with the strawberry notes playing a refreshing supporting role. On the other hand, the milder added flavors of the white anko daifuku let the tart taste of the strawberry bask in the spotlight, with the anko providing a clean, sweet finish.

Since Metro Opus is a popup store space, Kasho Asada’s run will be wrapping up on May 22. MG plans to go back for a daifuku refill before then, though and he’s also already looking forward to who the next tenant will be, and keeping his fingers crossed that they’ll also be stocking the vending machine with delicious desserts.

Related: Metro Opus website
Photos © SoraNews24
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