MAEBASHI, Japan >> A cake shop with insects baked into its treats opened in Maebashi this summer.
Kanna Osawa, the 25-year-old owner of Torosha Bakery, wants to promote the benefits of eating insects, which can be both nutritious and environmentally friendly.
“I want to make (eating insects) so accessible that they’ll be sold in a trendy commodity store,” Osawa said.
Born in the Nerima district of Tokyo, Osawa grew up in an area full of nature despite being in the middle of a city. As a child, she liked insects and other creatures and was good at catching crickets and toads in her home yard and in parks.
She was so fond of insects that she even recalls getting in trouble with her parents for leaving praying mantis eggs in their treasure chest.
After high school, Osawa got a job at a company that cleaned aquariums, but she hated commuting to work and sitting on a crowded train every day.
In 2017, she moved to Maebashi to be close to boyfriend Nobuhiro Honma, 26. Among other jobs, she designed websites while working at an antique store.
Osawa’s dream was to own her own business, 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 café that would exhibit various insect specimens. However, after seeing an exhibit about edible insects at Gunma Insect World last fall, she felt inspired.
Amid current concerns about global food shortages, insects have drawn attention since the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization identified them as a good food source.
Aiming to nurture the potential of insects, Osawa bought powdered crickets and used them in bread and confectionery.
She rented a tiny metal-roofed building that used to be a bike shop storage room and renovated it.
Her shop features baked goods such as sponge cakes and cookies made by her boyfriend, along with other insect-related goods and foods from across Japan, including insect-infused coffee and insect-themed accessories. The store also offers baked goods without insects.
“I want our customers to eat bugs and realize that bugs are an option for food, rather than eating them just because they’re bugs,” she said.