Gunma: Insect-lover opens sweet shop that bakes in tasty, nutritious bugs

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Kanna Osawa organizes homemade pound cakes and cookies containing powered crickets at her shop in Maebashi on June 15.

MAEBASHI — A sweet shop featuring insects baked into its treats has recently opened in Maebashi.

Kanna Osawa, the 25-year-old owner of the Torosha sweet shop, wants to promote the idea of eating insects, which is said to 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 quite lush in nature despite being in the middle of a city. She liked insects and other living things as a child and was good at catching crickets and toads in her garden at home and at parks.

She liked insects so much as a child, she remembers getting in trouble with her parents because she had forgotten that 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, where her boyfriend, Nobuhiro Honma, 26, lives. She designed websites while working at an antique shop, among other jobs.

Osawa’s dream was to own her own shop, and the pandemic is what 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 eating insects at Gunma Insect World in Kiryu, Gunma Prefecture, last autumn, she felt inspired.

As there is a concern over global food shortages because of population growth, insects have been drawing attention since the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations identified them as a good source of food.

Aiming to promote the potential of insects, Osawa purchased powdered crickets and uses them as an ingredient in bread and other confectionaries.

Osawa rented a tiny metal-roofed building that was used as a storage room for a bicycle store, and renovated it almost entirely by hand.

Baked goods such as pound cakes and cookies made by Honma are sold at the shop, along with other insect-related goods and food gathered from around Japan, including coffee that incorporates insects as an ingredient and accessories with insect motifs. The store also offers baked goods that do not use cricket powder.

“I want our customers to eat insects and realize insects are an option for food, rather than to eat them [out of curiosity] just because they are insects,” said Osawa.

The shop is open Wednesdays through Sundays from noon to 5 p.m.