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TokyoTreat Japanese Snacks BlogKonpeito: Discover the Delight of Japan’s Best Sugar Candy!

Konpeito: Discover the Delight of Japan’s Best Sugar Candy!

Karina IkedoKarina Ikedo
Published Time
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June 30, 2023
A close of up purple, pink and yellow konpeito candy.

The first time you see konpeito, you might mistake it for collectible art objects or beads for making jewelry. Prepare for a pleasant surprise because these treats will delight your eyes and tantalize your taste buds. Talk about literal eye candy!

Artisans handcraft konpeito, a small Japanese candy made with precision from rock sugar and shaped like confetti stars. This Japanese candy is much like rock candy in comparison, but also very unique. Keep reading to learn more about these cute and historic star-shaped candies!

What is konpeito?

Konpeito are tiny Japanese sugar candies with spiky edges, making them iconic star shapes. You can enjoy the crunchy texture that crumbles when you put it in your mouth. It is popular among anime fans, even featuring in top shows such as the movie Spirited Away and Pokémon

A bunch of konpeito candy in assorted colors.
It’s an enjoyable candy! Image via Shutterstock

Besides their shape, they come in many colors, making them look almost jewel-like. Artisans create these tiny pieces of candy primarily from hardened sugar, occasionally incorporating additional flavors. Konpeito holds the distinction of being classified as a Japanese dagashi (affordable candy).

Where did it come from?

Konpeito candies may be small, but they carry a lot of history. This little treat was first introduced to Japan by Portuguese traders in the 16th century. Konpeito comes from the Portuguese word confeito, which means candy or confection. At the time, candy was a luxury item and was only affordable to the wealthy. 

A bowl of konpeito candy against a red background.
What flavor of confetti candy would you like to try? Image via Shutterstock

But over time, the candy became more popular and enjoyed by people from all walks of life. These days, it plays an essential part in Japanese history, tradition, and culture. You can find it at many Japanese festivals and celebrations.

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How do you make konpeito?

Generally, making it is no small effort! It is quite the labor of love. According to tradition, the process of making this candy can span from seven to 13 days. The colored konpeito undergoes preparation in a dora machine, which consists of a substantial rotating pot set at an incline.

Assorted Japanese confetti candy in various plates.
People enjoy it on many different occasions! Image via Shutterstock

They are made by boiling a rock sugar ball and drizzling sugar syrup. The technique gives konpeito their iconic bulges and allows them to acquire their hard and grainy texture.

Some say getting the technique right takes more than 20 years of experience. An extreme amount of care and detail goes into each piece. But it sure pays off! One incredible quality of this candy is its ability to resist high temperatures without melting or affecting the taste. It can retain quality for up to thirty years if adequately packed and stored.

What does it taste like?

Generally, konpeito tastes sweet and delicate. It is perfect for those who enjoy light and refreshing treats. The sugar crystals are crunchy and have a simple sugar flavor, making them enjoyable for people of all ages. They have a mild flavor that can be enjoyed by crushing into little crystals.

A bowl of Japanese confetti candy.
They come in all colors! Image via Shutterstock

What are the different types of konpeito?

The appeal of konpeito is that you can enjoy a variety of flavors. Fruit flavors like orange, apple, muscat, and pineapple are standard. If you prefer flavors for adults, we recommend bittersweet flavors such as matcha, sencha, hojicha, and coffee. There are also spicy flavors, such as cinnamon and ginger, with unusual flavors using salt and sake lees.

Scattered konpeito candy against a blue background.
The candy’s name comes from the Portuguese word for “confetti”! Image via Shutterstock

There are also limited edition versions, which are made to be enjoyed in certain seasons. The peach konpeito is made especially for summer, chestnut flavored, popular in fall, and sakura konpeito for springtime.

Finding a new delicious treat for your sweet tooth is always fun. Konpeito is one Japanese confection that should be on every sugar addict’s bucket list. Because it comes in various flavors and colors, konpeito is a delicious treat for everyone who is into sweets. Were you familiar with the Japanese star-shaped candy known as konpeito? Do you have a favorite flavor? Let us know in the comments below!

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