Every year on July 7th, Japanese people celebrate 七夕 tanabata, or Star Festival (Qixi Festival in China). Legend has it that on this one day of the year, the star-crossed lovers Orihime and Hikoboshi (represented by the stars Altair and Vega), separated by the Milky Way, can finally meet. Shopping arcades are brightly decorated and people tie wish cards to bamboo branches in the hopes they will come true.

Japanese sweet shops, especially traditional wagashi shops, will often mark the occasion with themed sweets.

One Star Festival-themed sweet has gone viral this year. Made by a veteran wagashi craftsman at 杵屋本店 kineya honten (@YamagataKineya), a long-established Japanese and Western confectionery specialty store in Yamagata Prefecture, this is a particularly beautiful creation, as you can see in the images below:

Reproduced with permission from 山形 お菓子の杵屋本店 yamagata okashi no kineya honten (@YamagataKineya)

The dessert is a type of 羊羹 yōkan, a wagashi (Japanese confection) traditionally sold in block form, made with agar, sugar and featuring red bean paste as its main ingredient. In its more modern forms, such as this one, other color beans and ingredients are also used.

A yōkan like the night sky on Tanabata

This is 星合の空 (hoshiai no sora | a meeting of stars), an original yōkan sold only in summer.

The bottom white base is made of 牛乳羹 (gyūnyūkan | milk yōkan) and the top is made of purple and blue 錦玉羹 (kingyokukan), which is made of agar and sugar and has a summery citrus ramune flavor.

The translucent pastel blue and purple gradations are beautiful. The Twitter account owner called the 63-year-old veteran craftsman's creation エモい emoi, a relatively recent slang term taken from the English word "emotional" and used to describe things or situations that stir your heart, are nostalgic or sentimental.

Pictures of the gorgeous dessert have been retweeted over 18,700 times and the Tweet has garnered over 98,000 likes at the time of writing, also eliciting reactions such as:

  • "Too beautiful...! It's almost a shame to eat it."
  • "This isn't just food, it's a work of art!"
  • "The craftsmanship is amazing. I could just admire it forever."

Hoshiai no Sora is 9 centimeters long, can be stored at room temperature for 30 days, and is available here at Kineya's online store for 1,600 JPY including tax, while supplies last.

They also have many other delicious and beautiful desserts. To find out more, see their online store here.

Please note that they only delivery to Japanese addresses. If you'd like to have it delivered outside of Japan, you'll need to use a forwarding service such as Buyee or White Rabbit Express. (Check with the service to find out if they'll forward a food item like this).

By - grape Japan editorial staff.