Ukihoshi and Curry for Everyone: Special Delivery from Snow Country in Niigata


As interest in health and food safety increases among Japanese consumers, ingredients grown in Japan are returning to the spotlight. Residents of regions around the country are reconsidering their local foods and delicacies with fresh eyes as visitors from Japan and overseas take note.

Niigata-based creator group hickory03travelers (Arekore LLC) is one example. Here we introduce two of the local products they’ve decided to use their design skills to promote to the rest of Japan.


◆Ukihoshi, the mysterious floating snack

Ukihoshi have been made in Niigata by Meijiya since 1900. Consisting of molasses around a center of Japan-grown rice, they have a simple, not oversweet flavor.

They were originally known to locals as yukari and added to hot water, but lately their availability has dropped. In order to prevent this 115-year tradition from disappearing, hickory03travelers embarked on a redesign, with fresh new colors, stylish packaging, and a new name: “Ukihoshi,” or “floating stars.”

When you pour some ukihoshi into a cup and add hot water, at first they sink to the bottom, but after a few moments their sweet covering starts to melt and they rise to the top. Just watching the process is relaxing!

(5)rd850_ukihoshi2Making these adorable little stars is actually quite challenging, involving 9 hours of work in total—all by hand.

Ukihoshi are available in the silvery “Snowman” cans (6 flavors) and the “Swan” bags (8 flavors). Flavors include ginger, matcha, yuzu, and even cafe au lait and mint, and ukihoshi can be added not only to hot water but also to tea, coffee, soft drinks, and even shochu, or used as toppings on ice cream and gelato.


Snowman (can): Cafe au Lait, Yuzu, Milk, Strawberry, Mint, Mix-Mix (20 g) Price: 560 JPY (excluding tax) (680 JPY excluding tax for Mix-Mix)
Best by: 10 months after production

Swan (bag): Cafe au Lait, Yuzu, Milk, Strawberry, Mint, Matcha, Ginger, Ukihoshi Mix, Mix 16 (50 g) Price: 380 JPY (excluding tax) (420 JPY excluding tax for Mix 16)
Best by: 10 months after production


Next page: “Niigata rice and wheat-free curry roux