February 15, 2023
HEGURI, Nara — A variety of sweets made from locally produced strawberries such as a giant 30-centimeter-high parfait are on sale at a confection fair being held at a local “Michi no Eki” roadside rest area in the Nara prefectural town of Heguri until April.
At Yamatoji Heguri Kumagashi Station you can get your hands on the prefecture’s signature strawberry, Kotoka, and sweets made from it, such as the giant instagrammable parfait.
Kotoka strawberries are known for their rich flavor and boast a harmonious balance of sweet and sour. The town boasts the largest area for cultivating the berries in the prefecture, and the rest area has taken advantage of its location there to develop products using the Kotoka brand, in efforts to promote it.
Only 40 customers a day get the chance to eat the 30-centimeter dessert, which is served by reservation only at Hanana, a restaurant at the rest area. Priced at ¥2,200 including tax, it is made with about 23 fresh Kotoka berries picked there in the town, lightly sweetened whipped cream and crushed cookies. The sauce and jam simmered in red wine are also made from the berries.
The photogenic parfait has pushed the restaurant into the spotlight since it went viral on social media about two years ago. Some days, reservations are filled within a minute of accepting orders.
As a consolation for customers who were unable to make a reservation, Hanana also offers a mini parfait with six Kotoka berries for ¥700.
The roadside shop doesn’t stop at desserts either; it has also developed a Kotoka puree, and the fair sells a total of 11 varieties of sweets using the puree, including popcorn, soft caramel candies and cake.