December has hit, Christmas is just around the corner, and that means one thing in Japan -- strawberries. Sure, other parts of the world might celebrate with mulled wine, Christmas pudding, and giant roast turkeys, but Japan serves up Christmas cakes topped with the delicious fruit to celebrate the festive season, as well as a whole host of tasty strawberry flavored sweets that you can find all across the country. Here are three familiar favorites that recently hit shelves with a strawberry flavored spin that are worth a try!
Strawberry Pai No Mi
Pai No Mi are found on just about every supermarket and convenience store shelf, and consist of 64 layers of baked flaky pastry with a filling inside. The standard variety has a chocolate filling, but this season's ripe strawberry variety have been released to coincide with the festive season. If you typically celebrate your Christmas dinner with pie but you'll be in Japan at the time, these could be an amusing last minute substitute!
Condensed Milk and Strawberry Takenoko no Sato
If you're thinking about going fruit picking in Japan, strawberries are a great option for this time of year - and one thing you'll notice if you do is that most strawberry picking spots will give you a plastic container filled with condensed milk to dip your berries into! If you can't fit some fruit picking into the travel agenda though, maybe picking up some of these condensed milk and strawberry treats will fill that void! Takenoko no Sato are another staple on Japanese store shelves that often come out in seasonal varieties - apart from their original chocolate variety, other releases have included sweet potato, mango and matcha flavors.
Kinoko No Yama Matcha Strawberry Flavor
When you think of Christmas colors, red and green spring to mind - so it's quite fitting that these are released around the festive season with those shades in mind. Sure, the red of the strawberries ends up being closer to pink when it's in chocolate form, but close enough is good enough! Similar to the other sweets listed, these are also a popular treat that has various seasonal flavors, including things like matcha azuki, banana, and kinako (roasted soybean flour).
You can easily get your hands on these treats at most supermarkets and convenience stores - these ones were at my local Lawson - and they'll only set you back a couple of hundred yen. Even if you don't want to grab some for yourself, they definitely make for some tasty souvenirs for loved ones back home.