Japanese Candy DIY Style

When we were in Japan, as I'm sure many of you have experienced when in unfamiliar places, the food was quite mysterious. I can read some Japanese, but unless is was spelling an anglicised word, I was at a loss for translating anything. We tried all manner of strange (to us!) candies and treats, and found a few favourites that we now crave. I'll need to hunt them down at a Japanese supermarket.

While we were in Kyoto, we met a fellow traveler from Liverpool, in the UK. His name was Gerard and we went on many an adventure together. His parting gift to us was a care package of Japanese candies, which were a little more involved than just unwrapping and eating. Check them out.
Panda Keiki - I'm assuming this one is called a Panda Cake.
I cannot read the instructions, but it seems fairly straightforward. Packet #1 goes into the small 'bowl'. Packet #2 goes into the larger 'bowl'. Chocolate mix goes into the makeshift piping bag. Fill in panda face details. Microwave for... erm... some time. 50... seconds? Sounds right.
For the record, Panda Keiki tastes like a fluffy pancake!
Mr Moustache. Not too much involved here, actually. Unwrap moustache. Pull a funny face. Eat. They're cola flavoured gummy moustaches :)
Hanbaagaa-Keiki, oh, Hanbaagaa-Keiki. You have made my dreams come true of becoming some kind of Willy Wonka mastermind.
When I opened this little package, I was expecting.. well, cake.
When I mixed the first little powdered package with water, I wondered if it was just me, or if the cake smelled... savoury. I continued onto the 'beef' patty and oh lordy, that cake mix smelled like ground beef!
The cheese powder smelled like cheese, the tomato sauce powder smelled like... you guessed it, tomato sauce (sorry, ketchup for my American viewers).
The burgers are so tiny you almost need tweezers to manipulate the little slices of beef and cheese and bun. This one was by far the most complex to make. I think it took me almost 2 hours!! I guess I was stopping to take photos (and occasionally gag from the super-realistic meat smell)
Nobody was particularly game to taste test the Hanbaagaa-keiki. We finally delivered the mini-cake-burgers to a willing participant who exclaimed, just like a child in Willy Wonka's factory, "The cheeseburgers taste like cheeseburgers!!!!" The hours of work were worth it for the excited taste-testing episode. The french fries were not 100% realistic-tasting, but apparently quite buttery and potato-flavoured. And the soda, although it said "kora" (Cola) on the package, was apparently more of a cherry flavour. Cherry Cola!!
What on earth do you guys make of this Japanese DIY cake-fest? I understand now how much fun it is to build look-a-like food. It's also a good deterrent to eating quickly and too much. I like the Japanese concept of "kata" which translates to 'form' and is generally used as a term for mastering a process. It encompasses the Japanese culture for me, when they do something, they tend to do it well, if not 'perfectly'. That's how I feel about the cake. They don't want it to just look like a Hamburger, it needs to embody the spirit of a hamburger. A hamburger the size of a thimble.

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