How can you tell a professional baking conference is in Tokyo? Because among the fantasy wedding cakes, there’s a Shinto shrine wedding, complete with marzipan bride and groom.
And then there was the “marzipan cake” category.
But the Japanese themes didn’t stop with the cakes – check out these king-sized decorations made of chocolate. And when I say they’re big, I dare you to find the normal-sized cake layer included in the design so these could remotely qualify as something you’d expect to see at a cake show. Makes those birthday cake roses I always coveted (DON’T JUDGE) look positively restrained.
And then there were the pure, unadulterated sugar sculptures. These didn’t even bother with the cake, so you can’t tell how big they were from the photos. I’ll tell you, though: these weren’t no dainty knick-knacks. They were, like, over a foot tall. Or more. And if you’ve ever tried (and failed) to make the world’s most beautiful lollipops, you’d be boggling at how perfectly (and speedily) these artists pulled and rolled and snipped and spun the hot melted sugar in the few short moments before it hardens.
And finally, there was this odd ugly stepsister competition category, which actually might be the most poignantly Japanese of all. These desserts were all made with rice flour.
In the West, this would be the “gluten free” category, but that’s not the major reason for encouraging Japanese patissiers to bake with rice flour. The gig economy has come to Japan, along with long working hours, two income households, and no time to cook. The sad truth is, rice consumption has been falling precipitously as people opt for bread instead, so there’s a national push to support the rice farmers by using rice flour to bake with, instead of wheat.
There were two more floors of the show, but they were given over to cooking demonstrations (on the 7th) and trade show booths (on the 4th).
This is the first time I’ve been to this show, but move over, Tokyo International Quilt Festival, I’m adding the Tokyo Cake Show to my list of fabulous, surprisingly Japanese, eye-candy events.
Lucky Tokyo peeps: you can still catch the Tokyo Cake Show through today (October 17, 2019.
Its on the 4th-7th floors of the Tokyo Metropolitan Industrial Trade Center Taitokan. 4th floor: trade show booths; 5th floor: Wedding cakes, chocolate sculptures, sugar sculptures, rice flour cakes; 6th floor: Marzipan cakes; 7th floor: baking/decorating demonstrations, cake & coffee set cafe
Address: 2 Chome-6-5 Hanakawado (it’s about a five minute walk from the Senso-ji temple in Asakusa)
Don’t miss The Last Tea Bowl Thief!
“Without question, the best book I have read all year.” —Susan Spann, author of the Hiro Hattori mysteries and CLIMB
Writing mystery books set in Tokyo is mostly what I do, but I also blog about the odd stuff I see every day in Japan. I'm a graduate of Stanford University and the Sendagaya Japanese Institute in Tokyo, and a member of the International Thriller Writers, the Mystery Writers of America, and Sisters In Crime. When I'm not in Tokyo, I live in San Francisco. I also host a travel site called The Tokyo Guide I Wish I'd Had, so if you're headed to Japan and want to check out the places I take my friends when they're in town, take a look!