There are a few hot treats in Japan that are especially welcome in the cold months of winter. Yaki-imo baked sweet potatoes are one that immediately comes to mind, but another one you can't miss is taiyaki cakes.

These sea bream-shaped pancakes filled with sweet azuki bean paste (and sometimes, in their more contemporary versions, custard, chocolate, and other fillings) are very popular in winter, and you'll often see people lining up outside at the popular shops like Naniwaya in Azabujuban or Tomoe-an in Asagaya, Tokyo.

If you don't want to burn yourself, taiyaki which are fresh off the grill are too hot to bite into, so it's common for people to use them as temporary heat packs, holding them in their paper wrappers for a while, until they've cooled down enough to eat.

But eventually, you'll need to open the wrapper and dig in. While they'll surely warm you from the inside for a while, after you've finished, the warming effects of your tasty taiyaki treat will disappear.

But what if it didn't have to be that way? What if you could carry around a taiyaki in your pocket which stays warm for hours, doesn't smell (although taiyaki do smell delicious), won't get crushed, and doesn't even have an expiration date?

Sound like a fish tale? OK, there's a catch. You'll have to give up the eating part, and you'll need to provide a disposable heating pad (known as カイロ kairo in Japanese), but that's a small price to pay for a cute taiyaki that will keep you warm in winter, isn't it?

Here's the item in question. See, it looks just like a taiyaki.

It even comes packaged in a paper wrapper like the real thing. If the design on the wrapper looks familiar (to those of you know your taiyaki shops), that's because this heat pack cover is provided by the popular taiyaki shop ともえ庵 Tomoe-an in Asagaya.

Just slip in your heating pad and you're ready to go.

See, doesn't this look much better than pulling out a bare, white, disposable heating pad from your pocket? You'll actually want to cradle this in your hands and show it off while you keep yourself warm...

These taiyaki disposable heating pad covers cost 2,400 JPY (incl. tax) and are available from the Tomoe-an online shop here.

Now if it's hunger you want to satisfy, take your taiyaki heating pad cover and head over to Tomoe-an in Asagaya!

  • Addresss(JP): 〒166-0004 杉並区阿佐ヶ谷南1-35-20 | 1-35-20 Asagaya-minami Suginami Ward, Tokyo 166-0004
  • Tel: 03-6383-2144
  • Hours: 11:00 to 20:00
  • Days: Tuesday to Sunday
  • Website

By - Ben K.