A way to appreciate the majestic beauty of Japan’s tallest mountain while staying warm, rested, and full.

As much as I love living and traveling in Japan, I’ve got to admit that I’ve never really felt much of a desire to climb Mt. Fuji. I like hiking as much as the next guy, but even during the summer climbing season it gets very chilly at Fuji’s summit, and there are few things in this world my native southern Californian body hates more than being cold.

That doesn’t mean I dislike Mt. Fuji, though. I just choose to appreciate Japan’s tallest mountain and most iconic national symbol in other ways, like gazing at it from afar, and now there’s a new option: eating Mt. Fuji.

If this appetizing alpine dessert is looking vaguely familiar to you, and not just because it looks like Mt. Fuji, it might be because sitting in the sweets center of your brain’s memory banks are recollections of Japanese chocolatier Shorakuen’s Yamagashi collection, which we first looked at (and ate) back in September. Combining the words yama (“mountain”) and kashi/gashi (“candy”), the Yamagashi line recreates actual mountains from across Japan, rendering their ridges and contours in minute detail out of ganache chocolate cream, sponge cake, and special regional ingredients reflecting the mountains’ actual locations.

Initially, the Yamagashi lineup consisted of five mountains: Mt. Rishiri, Mt. Ontake Sakurajima, Mt. Yufu, Mt. Omuro, and Mt. Nishiyama. The absence of Mt. Fuji always seemed odd, but it turns out there was a reason for that. After previously being available only through online sales and occasional pop-up shops, Shorakuen has just opened its first permanent store/cafe, and the release of the Mt. Fuji Yamagashi is part of the grand opening celebration.

Open since January 21, the Shorakuen Tea Salon and Boutique is located in Tokyo’s Yoyogi-Uehara neighborhood, offering desserts, teas, and stylishly whimsical surroundings to enjoy them in.

So what will Mt. Fuji taste like? The first thing to remember is that Shorakuen’s desserts don’t just want to capture the spirit of a mountain, but the character of a particular season too. In the case of the Mt. Fuji Yamagashi, that season is spring, so cherry blossoms are part of the package.

The cake’s interior is divided into layers, like geological strata, and the top one is made of ganache infused with salted sakura petals and strawberry. In the middle is matcha sponge cake and azuki sweet red beans, and at the bottom is a crunchy chocolate enhanced with green tea grown in Shizuoka, the prefecture that runs along the southern side of Fuji.

In keeping with Mt. Fuji’s status as Japan’s tallest mountain, its Yamagashi is slightly bigger than the others, though at five centimeters (2 inches) tall and 11.5 centimeters in length it’s still just a bit smaller than its inspiration. In addition to the Shorakuen Tea Salon and Boutique, it’s also available here through the Shorakuen online shop, priced at 4,860 yen (US$38).

Cafe information
Shorakuen Tea Salon and Boutique /小楽園ティーサロン&ブティック
Address: Tokyo-to, Shibuya-ku, Motoyoyogicho 10-9
Open noon-7 p.m.
Closed Tuesdays

Source, images: PR Times
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