Konpeito candies piled on a surface
The Colorful History Of Konpeito, Japan's Vibrant, Star-Shaped Treats
Japan has a class of historic desserts called wagashi that have been crafted for nearly 2,000 years. This includes konpeito, which are tiny, star-shaped kaleidoscopic candies.
The star shape is formed with rock sugar and colorants to yield a vibrant look. Traditionally a delicacy in Japan, Portuguese traders first presented them during the 16th century.
To make konpeito, artisans pour the sugar syrup in increments over a granule for up to two weeks. Each layer adds to a bumpy, uneven surface but is methodical in its desired form.
Konpeito is crafted in a wide array of colors, and modern versions have introduced flavorings with fruity notes like citrus, banana, strawberry, matcha, cinnamon, and more.
Nowadays, the sweets are especially interlinked with Kyoto, where it's sold in sweet bento boxes, often playfully substituting savory food.