Gaijin errors: We see Mt Fuji (maybe), they see… the Apollo 11 spacecraft?

Posted on 03.02.2015


IMG_0286A student brought me a present the other day. I turned it into a bit of a learning topic, and since I can’t read (yet), asked him about the shape. I told him I’ve seen these chocolates in many different iterations (these are everywhere, every season, in different flavours), and didn’t know why it was so popular in Japan.

I saw them in Hakone, near Fuji mountain in gift shops. Saw them in Kyoto, where they were tea-flavoured. Saw them in Nikko, sakura-flavoured in spring.

So why are Japanese people so into the chocolates in the shape of Mt Fuji?

My student laughed a little, and said they’re not in the shape Fuji-san. Oh really?, I said. I always figured it was a mountain with ‘snow’ in the seasonal flavour. Fuji is snow-free for 3 months of the year, so it seemed like a fair assessment.

He said actually, these are called ‘Apollo’ candies. apollo-11-command-module-columbia

As in, Apollo 11.

Apparently, Japan and its citizens were so enthralled by the moon landing that they made commemorative candies, and they were such a hit that they just never stopped making them? Wow. So no, we’re not that excited about our UNESCO-listed, Hokusai-immortalized, single standing, gorgeous mountain that you can see from some parts of the city. However, the Apollo landing was awesome!

I’m not complaining, they are both amazing in very different ways. Just surprised the candies aren’t supposed to be mountains. It’s like a candy Rorschach test: what do YOU see?

In related news, the apparent reason that so many Japanese people opt for a ‘western wedding’ isn’t due to current trends in the western wedding industry, but rather because they all saw Princess Di get married to Prince Charles on TV, and then a famous Japanese pop star Momoe Yamaguchi went and did the same thing.

Also, this article from 2006 is very… interesting: Love and Marriage in Japan: White Weddings