Like a water balloon but with a sweet surprise inside that needs popping. 

Just the other day, our reporter Takamichi Furusawa stumbled upon a unique sweet at the Gunma Iroha souvenir shop in Takasaki Station, Gunma. What initially drew him to the sweet was the packaging, which almost glowed with ethereal green and pink hues.

Checking out the sign, Takamichi found that these were called “Tengu no Tamatebako“, with “tengu” referring to the mythical long-nosed red goblin creature that’s said to live in mountainous areas, and “tamatebako” meaning “treasure chest”.

The name, which translates to “Tengu’s Treasure Chest“, only served to make these even more enticing, so Takamichi gave in to temptation and purchased one for 1,230 yen (US$8.77).

▼ The long-nosed red Tengu can be seen on the tag.

Lifting the lid on the goblin’s treasure box was exciting in itself, and the magical aura intensified when he saw what was inside, as he’d never seen anything like these before.

▼ Before him lay ping-pong-ball-sized balloons, and they were filled with jelly.

According to the enclosed instructions, these balloon jellies are best eaten cold, so Takamichi resisted the urge to try them straight away, instead placing his treasure into the fridge to cool for a while.

Once they were nice and cold to the touch, Takamichi got out his best plate and arranged the jellies on it. The four flavours (from left to right below) were: Strawberry, Apple, Mikan, and Blueberry.

The colours were beautiful, and the way they were packaged made them look like little money bags, only these were filled with a different type of treasure, and they required popping before being eaten.

Starting with the strawberry, Takamichi followed the instructions for popping, holding it securely with his left hand and breaking into it with the enclosed skewer in his right.

▼ Ta daaa!

The packaging fell cleanly away as the jelly freed itself, beautifully retaining its rotund shape.

▼ It looked so cute and wobbly that Takamichi couldn’t help but play with it.

Once released from the balloon, the jelly looked much larger and Takamichi was unable to eat it in one mouthful so he sliced it in two with the skewer.

Biting into it, Takamichi found the texture to be wonderful, and as the thick jelly danced in his mouth, the flavour of strawberry spread gently over his taste buds, washing them with fruity sweetness.

These were no ordinary jellies either, as they’re made with konnyaku, a plant belonging to the yam family that also goes by the names “konjac” or “Devil’s tongue“.

Gunma is Japan’s leading producer of konnyaku, and its naturally jiggly nature lends itself well to jellies, while its high fibre and near-zero calorie content adds a load of nutritional benefits that make them arguably healthier than other jellies on the market.

▼ Cute, delicious and good for you? No wonder they’re the tengu’s treasure!

The balance between sweetness and tartness was particularly noticeable, and what really impressed Takamichi was the texture, which was pulpy and similar to a real fruit. The fruits used to make the jellies are also sourced locally, helping to add to the fresh, juicy flavour.

With each jelly working out to be around 300 yen each, these treats aren’t cheap, but for the chance to get a taste of the tengu’s treasure, Takamichi believes it’s a price worth paying.

Store information
Gunma Iroha / 群馬いろは
Address: Gunma-ken, Takasaki-shi, Yashima-cho 222  E-site Takasaki 2nd floor, JR Takasaki Station East Exit
群馬県高崎市八島町222番地(JR高崎駅東口 イーサイト高崎 2F)
Open 9:00 a.m.-8:30 p.m. (Monday-Saturday); 9:00 a.m.-8:00 p.m. (Sundays and holidays)

Related: Konnyaku Koubou Kasho
Images © SoraNews24
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