July 14, 2017
Konpeito are traditional Japanese sugar candies that come in a variety of colors and are characterized by their round bumpy shape, and cute and elegant appearance. You may have seen these colorful candies in the Japanese animated movie “Spirited Away”, or as the inspiration for the star bits in the Nintendo video game, “Super Mario Galaxy”.
The process for making konpeito was introduced to Japan in 1546 by traders from Portugal, where the candy is called “confeito”. Konpeito is made by heating up small pieces of rock sugar in a large heated gong-shaped tub called a "dora". The sugar pieces are then slowly coated in layers of liquid sugar. The process for making konpeito can take up to two weeks. Since the weather, climate, oven temperature, and density of the liquid sugar can affect the outcome of the konpeito, confectioners have to rely on their instinct and years of experience to insure that the konpeito turns out well.
In the past, sugar was rare and quite expensive. Sweets made from sugar were considered very valuable, and were often given as gifts by the wealthy. At the Imperial House of Japan it has become tradition for important visitors to receive a gift of kompeito, presented in a small box called a “bonbonieru”, from the French word “bonbonniere”, meaning candy box.
Today, most konpeito are made using machines, and are available in variety of colors and flavors. There are even regional and seasonal flavors such as sakura blossom, matcha and plum wine, which helped maintain the popularity of these traditional sweets for the past 400 years, both in Japan, and overseas.
You can find kompeito in bags in our candy section.