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Ancient confectionery hits Japan's sweet spot

Changing consumer tastes prompt shift to modern ingredients and techniques

These yokan sweets from Toraya depict the four seasons. While seasonality has long been a defining feature of wagashi Japanese confectionery, makers are discovering that innovation may be crucial to their survival at a time when tastes are changing. (Courtesy of Toraya)

TOKYO -- At first bite, there is a distinct flavor and aroma of raspberry. Then there are strong hints of lychee and rose as the smooth, sweet jelly dissolves in the mouth. The ingredients and flavors, as well as the name, Ispahan, suggest that this block of dark magenta confectionery is an exotic Middle Eastern delicacy.

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