Many say they are too good to eat. They look exactly like the two national treasure “dogu” clay figurines produced during the Jomon Period and unearthed from Chino, Nagano Prefecture, but they are “yokan,” traditional Japanese sweet bean paste jellies, prepared by a long-established local confectioner based on the idea of local university students. The edible dogu are called “Kokuho Shio Yokan (National Treasure Salty Yokan)” and already popular.
Baigetsu, the 90-year-old local confectioner, created the dogu-shaped yokan in two types: one in the shape of “Jomon no Venus (the Venus of Jomon)” and the other in the shape of “Kamen no Megami (the Masked Goddess)”. They are approximately 8 centimeters tall, about one fourth of the original dogu excavated at Chino and agar kanten sticks are used to make them. (Chino is the largest producer of the agar kanten sticks in Japan.)
The idea of making dogu-shaped yokan came in 2015 from a study on regional development by the students of Department of Business Administration and Information of Tokyo University of Science, Suwa. President of Baigetsu, Toshimi Ito, 51, cooperated with them in the study. As soon as they were commercialized in November 2016, they became popular mainly as souvenirs or gifts for friends and relatives from other prefectures.
Prices are JPY380 for one Masked Goddess yokan, JPY350 for one Jomon Venus yokan, or JPY700 for a set of the two.