MAEBASHI, Japan – A candy store with baked insects in its treats recently opened in Maebashi.
Kanna Osawa, the 25-year-old owner of Torosha Confectionery, wants to promote the idea of eating insects, which is nutritious and environmentally friendly.
“I want to do [eating insects] so accessible that they will be sold in a fashionable merchandise store, ”said Osawa.
Osawa was born in Nerima Ward, Tokyo, and grew up in an area of fairly lush nature despite being in the middle of a city. As a child, she loved insects and other living things and was good at catching crickets and toads in her garden at home and in parks.
She loved insects so much as a child, she remembers having trouble with her parents because she forgot that she left praying mantis eggs in her treasure chest.
After graduating from high school, Osawa found an aquarium cleaning job, but hated commuting to work every day on a crowded train.
In 2017, she moved to Maebashi, where her boyfriend, Nobuhiro Honma, 26, lives. She designed websites while working in an antique store, among other jobs.
Osawa’s dream was to own her own store, and the pandemic is what prompted her to finally pull the trigger. The coronavirus epidemic made him want to “do it now”.
Initially, she thought about opening a cafe that displayed various specimens of insects. However, after seeing an exhibit on insect consumption at Gunma Insect World in Kiryu, Gunma Prefecture last fall, she felt inspired.
As there is concern about global food shortages due to population growth, the insects have gained attention since the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations identified them as a good source of food.
In an effort to promote the potential of insects, Osawa purchased powdered crickets and uses them as an ingredient in bread and other confectionery.
Osawa rented a small, metal-roofed building that served as a warehouse for a bicycle shop and renovated it almost entirely by hand.
Baked goods such as pound cake and cookies made by Honma are sold in the shop, along with other insect-related products and foods from all over Japan, including coffee that incorporates insects as an ingredient and accessories with insect motifs. The store also offers baked goods that do not use cricket powder.
“I want our customers to eat bugs and realize that bugs are an option for food, rather than eating them. [out of curiosity] just because they’re bugs, ”Osawa said.