Crazy long sweets are about to take over your Instagram and TikTok feeds, but are they worth eating?

Tokyo is slowly coming back to life again after being under a coronavirus cloud for several years, with foreign tourists returning and places like Harajuku bustling with crowds once more.

It’s the perfect time for businesses to open new stores in the area, and one you shouldn’t miss is Hakata Yamadaya. Last year, this skewered dumpling specialty store took social media by storm with its crazy long sweets, but the only place you could try them was at its one store in Fukuoka Prefecture

In March, however, the store opened a branch on Takeshita Street in Harajuku, where it’s been doing a roaring trade with the young crowd.

▼ The store sells a wide variety of dango (skewered dumplings), priced at around 289 yen (US$2.11) each.

When our Harajuku-loving, young-at-heart reporter Mr Sato visited, he purchased the store’s most famous signature sweet — the “Hana Yori Dango” (“Dango Over Flowers“). This gigantic skewer contains a jaw-dropping 25 dango, and it’s so long it looks a bit like a bazooka or the sheath of a samurai sword when packaged up for transporting home.

Mr Sato took the treat back to the office to share with his colleagues, but before they could tuck into it they needed to wait for it to thaw to room temperature first.

After about 30 minutes, the treat was ready to eat. Raising it like a trophy, Mr Sato couldn’t believe how long it was — at over a metre (39 inches) long, it was more than half his height!

▼ Like the tastiest samurai sword you’ve ever seen.

Resisting the urge to wield it about the room like a samurai sword, or perhaps a colourful lightsaber, Mr Sato carefully unwrapped the plastic to gaze upon the dango lineup.

No two dango looked the same, as each one was topped with a different paste. The 25 flavours in the Hana Yori Dango are listed below:

  • Mitarashi
  • Pumpkin
  • Tobiume (plum)
  • Lemon
  • Yame matcha (a famous matcha from Fukuoka)
  • Caramel
  • Amaou strawberry
  • Tsubu an (coarse sweet red bean paste)
  • Ramune
  • Black sesame
  • Natsu mikan (bitter summer orange)
  • Kinako an (roasted soybean flour paste)
  • Zunda (sweet edamame soybean paste)
  • Purple sweet potato
  • Sweet potato
  • Chocolate
  • Melon soda
  • Cola
  • Mugwort kinako
  • Sakura
  • Gyokuro green tea
  • Kishu plum
  • Hojicha (roasted green tea)
  • Chestnut
  • Mugwort bean paste

This was an impressive lineup of flavours, and Mr Sato wanted to gleefully nibble them all, like a rabbit with a tasty carrot stick, but he decided to be a sensible adult, peeling away just the one at the top — the mitarashi, which consists of a sweet soy sauce glaze.

The dango rice dumpling was bigger than the ones you usually get at stores around Japan, and Mr Sato’s eyes grew wide at its delicious plumpness.

Popping it in his mouth, the dumpling was still a little on the cold side, having been served frozen for freshness, but that only added to his excitement.

▼ It was freakin’ delicious!

Alas, like his youth, Mr Sato’s bottomless stomach is a thing of the past, so he invited the rest of the gang to come and help him demolish the dango sword. It went down a treat, with everyone in the office remarking on its visual impact before singing its praises for freshness and flavour.

The positive reaction to the sweet made Mr Sato think it would be great to purchase as a Tokyo souvenir. However, if the thought of walking around Tokyo with a long sword-like object makes you feel a little self-conscious, you can always opt for these special cans, which are much easier to pack away in your luggage.

▼ The “Warabi Can” (888 yen) includes three dango sticks, buried in a delicious mound of flavoured warabi (bracken) jelly.

There’s also a canned mitarashi dango, which contains a big heap of roasted soybean flour on top of the sweet soy glaze inside.

With over 100 flavours on the roster, and a few exclusive dumpling creations you can’t find anywhere else, Hakata Yamadaya is a must-visit destination when you visit Harajuku.

It’s a fun way to explore traditional Japanese sweets in a whole new form and a great alternative to all the crepe stands in the neighbourhood!

Store information
Hakata Yamadaya Harajuku Takeshita Street Store / 博多やまだや原宿竹下通り店
Address: Tokyo-to, Shibuya-ku, Jingumae 1-7-3
Open 10:30 a.m.-7:00 p.m.
Closed Sundays

Related: Hakatayamadaya (Instagram)
Photos © SoraNews24
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