Designer Chocolates That Let You Taste the Meaning of Japanese Words


The Japanese language has a whole category of words for describing specific sensory imagery—how something looks, moves, sounds, tastes, and feels. For example, biri biri can describe a cluster of related imagery: the feel of electricity, a buzzing sound, the pins and needles sensation you get when your arm falls asleep. Gangan can represent hard knocking on a door or a pounding headache. Pachi pachi can represent the crackling of a fire, the clicking sound of abacus beads, or rapid eye blinking.

There are many such words to describe specific textures as well, and now Japanese design firm Nendo has created a box of chocolates to embody them. See if you can guess which one is which.

From Nendo, photo by Akihiro Yoshida

Tsubu tsubu
Granular, made of individual bits or drops

Sube sube
Smooth, polished, silky

Toge toge
Spiky, pokey

Zara zara
Rough, irregular in surface

Goro goro
Rocks tumbling or rolling, knocking over each other

Fuwa fuwa
Soft, fluffy, air-filled

Poki poki
Snapping, popping, the sound of sticks or thin things breaking

Suka suka,
Empty, extra space

Zaku zaku
Crunchy, grainy, like walking on gravel

The chocolates were created for the design trade show Maison et Object, opening this week in Paris. If you want to try them, you should get there fast. According to Japanese design blog Spoon & Tamago only 400 sets of these limited edition chocolates will be sold there.

Get a closer look at the chocolates, and see them in their fancy box, at Nendo.