MAEBASHI, Japan >> A pastry shop featuring insects baked into its treats opened this summer in Maebashi.
Kanna Osawa, the 25-year-old owner of the Torosha bakery, wants to promote the virtues of eating insects, which can be nutritious and environmentally friendly.
“I want to make (eating insects) so accessible they’ll be sold at a trendy goods store,” Osawa said.
Osawa was born in Nerima ward, Tokyo, and grew up in an area lush in nature despite being in the middle of a city. As a child, she liked insects and other living things and was good at catching crickets and toads in her garden at home and at parks.
She liked insects so much, in fact, she remembers getting into trouble with her parents because she had left praying mantis eggs in her treasure box.
After graduating from high school, Osawa got a job at a company that cleans fish tanks, but she hated commuting to work and having to be on a crowded train every day.
In 2017, she moved to Maebashi to be close to her boyfriend, Nobuhiro Honma, 26. She designed websites while working at an antique shop, among other jobs.
Osawa’s dream was to own her own shop, and the pandemic pushed her to finally pull the trigger. The coronavirus outbreak gave her the urge to “do it now.”
Initially, she thought of opening a cafe that displayed various insect specimens. However, after seeing an exhibition on edible insects at Gunma Insect World last autumn, she felt inspired.
With the current concern over global food shortages, insects have been drawing attention ever since the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization identified them as a good food source.
Aiming to promote the potential of insects, Osawa purchased powdered crickets and used them in bread and confectioneries.
She rented a tiny metal-roofed building that was once used for storage at a bicycle store, and renovated it.
In her shop, baked goods such as pound cake and cookies made by her boyfriend line shelves, along with other insect-related goods and food gathered from around Japan, including coffee that incorporates insects and accessories with insect motifs. The store also offers non- insect baked goods.
“I want our customers to eat insects and realize insects are an option for food, rather than to eat them just because they are insects,” she said.