Dec 6, 2013
Traditional Japanese sweets I'd like to recommend 1: taiyaki
Have you ever tried 鯛焼き（たいやき、taiyaki) , or a fish-shaped pancake with anko somewhere? Don't worry, it has no fish in it, and doesn't have fishy smell either.
The "skin" part is made of flour, baking soda, sugar and water, very close to regular waffle or pancake batter, and the filling is commonly anko, or sweet red bean paste.
I personally like anko, but I'm not sure if you like it. Many of my students from "Western world" say they don't find it tasty, while Asians generally love it.
If sweet bean paste does not stimulate your appetite, you can ask for different fillings if they have, such as custard cream, sweet potato cream and chocolate cream.
Taiyaki is perfect snack to nibble when you are a little hungry between meals. It is tasty, cheap -- usually priced at 100-150 yen, and you can easily find the taiyaki shops near railway stations, in the supermarkets or department stores.
You can take taiyaki home and warm it up using microwave and toaster-oven (use the microwave first to warm inside and then put in the taster-oven so that the surface becomes a little crispy), but eating the freshly made hot one on the spot is the best.
By the way, do you know that taiyaki are modeled after sea breams? "Tai" of taiyaki is sea bream, and "yaki" is grilled or baked in Japanese; therefore, taiyaki literally means baked sea-breams.
Sea breams are special fish for Japanese and they have been traditionally served on the auspicious (medetai in Japanese) occasions such as weddings and new year's day, because the sound "tai" reminds us of "medetai". Yes, it is just a pan. I'm wondering if our ancestors found sea breams especially delicious, though it has been always expensive.
I've never made taiyaki at home, but it is not difficult to make if you have the mold. (Fish shaped taiyaki pan are available on the internet.) My friend occasionally makes taiyaki, using pancake mix as the batter and canned anko, and is always satisfied with the results.
Don't think of making anko from scratch, as it is very time-consuming. In Japan anko is sold in can or plastic bags at any supermarkets and even at some convenience stores, but if you are living abroad and hardly find those thing, why don't you put Nutella or your favorite jam as alternative? My friend says it is pretty good!
伝統的 な でんとうてきな traditional
形 かたち shape
お菓子 おかし sweets
普通は commonly, normally
～の代（か）わりに instead of
お腹（なか）が空（す）く to get hungry
鯛 たい sea breams
言葉 ことば word
連想する れんそうする associate something with...
結婚式 けっこんしき wedding celemony
正月 しょうがつ new year's day
特別 とくべつ special
型 かた mold
簡単 かんたん easily
大変 たいへん hard, difficult
缶詰 かんづめの canned