Koume: The Ultimate Kimono Candy?!
Updated: Mar 16
While on my lonely candy haul the other day, I stumbled upon a bag of candy I hadn't even heard of before; Koume. I was instantly excited to buy and try it, since the bag's packaging featured a beautiful young woman wearing an even lovelier kimono. Unless I say otherwise, the photos in this post were taken by me in March 2021.
I was able to buy the bag fairly cheaply, for about $4.20 in Springvale, Victoria, Australia. I knew enough about Japanese candy to know that many of their products are plum scented of flavoured, and so I expected Koume would also taste that way. Especially since plum blossoms decorate the bag. The packaging had me under the impression that the candy could be traced back to the edo period, since the girl seems to be wearing kimono in a particularly anachronistic manner. Her haircut, coupled with the nature of her hair ornaments, and the fact that her "nagajuban" has a pink collar all suggest that she isn't someone who wears kimono for special occasions. She reads as someone who wears them often. And while Plum blossom season specifically happens in the first month of Spring, plums ripen as a fruit in the summer. So, it's not surprising that her kimono is summer themed. Her hair ornaments point to Autumn. But in kimono culture, wearing motifs from the coming season is considered very stylish. So, she is a young woman who knows how to dress herself. In fact, when I was trying to research the candy, I found that the bags don't always depict the girl in the same kimono. She seems to have a collection. Inside the back, each piece of candy is individually packaged, and each package seems to depict the girl in a different kimono with different romantic notes on the back.
In fact, I had to work hard to find another example of her wearing the same kimono as the bag I bought. Some of her outfit changes seemed to correlate with nuances in flavour and texture. But some seemed to be simply for the pleasure of depicting the Koume girl in different kimono, though admittedly some nuances are slight. So, I thought I would show a collection of her lovely outfits in this post.
(Image borrowed from japanese-products.blog.)
(Image borrowed from 247japanesecandy.com.)
(Images borrowed from biggo.com.tw.)
(Image borrowed from respublica.ru.)
(Image borrowed from showa-obasan.com.)
I would gather and share more of these images here, but I'm time poor. So I will recommend googling for more of the images if you care for it. But goodness! This is the first I think I've seen a candy being marketed this way, and I'm very pleased to have found it. I even managed to find the artist who originally drew the character! He is Hayashi Seiichi and a truly accomplished Japanese artist himself.
I'm tempted to include pieces of the candy for my customers in the orders I send out. But somehow, without knowing the full history, I feel they wouldn't have a full appreciation for all that it represents. But am I wrong? You can contact me and tell me so through my store:
The commercials for Koume are also pleasant to look at, though they seem to all tell the story of a young romance and are surprisingly dramatic for a candy commercial:
I wanted to learn more about the backstory of these images, especially since the bag depicts a family tree, as though these are meant to be real people who actually existed in some form. The official website and packaging, from what I could discern using translation services, reveal that the candy is mean to recreate the sensation of falling in love at first sight, as a youth living in Meiji period Japan. While the characters aren't real, they seem to be fleshed out characters invented by the Lotte company. The website even includes short stories about them! So, one could have a very interesting cultural experience eating the candy while they read about it! Both the boy and the girl have their own candies, and each comes with distinct packaging!
The candy itself is coated in what some say is a tingling shiso powder, with a very sweet plum flavoured hard candy body, with a small, chewy sour plum centre. Indeed, the experience of falling in love for the first time can be quite bitter-sweet. I used Google Translate to find what the bag had to say for itself "The taste of the first love of plum-flavored candy. Koume is packed with the taste of Nanko plum. It is a sweet and sour pure taste candy that has not changed since its release in 1974."
Koume even has its own official Twitter account! There you can see more of the packaging and outfits as they are uploaded! They also have an official website that is likewise so beautiful! I'm pleased to say that by using the Google Chrome translate function and exploring the website, you can learn much more about those beautiful girls on the bag, as well as the candy itself! The company really bothered to give them backstories and everything! I found it very charming to see.
There seem to be many online stores which sell the candy. But quite a number can be ordered through Amazon, too. Before finding these, I was a little sick of the plum blossom concept. But after learning more about them, I'm quite fascinated, and I'm wondering if I should create similar characters for my business.
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