Starbucks Japan’s “Japan Wonder Project” offers a nice snapshot of the nation’s soft-power campaigns in general. This campaign, which has been going on for over a year now, celebrates Japanese flavors. The range is mostly consumed, though, by Japanese people, already familiar with the local tastes. It’s less about introducing new ingredients to visitors and more about celebrating how great those established foodstuffs already are. Oh right, this is Dessert Watch, not The Economist.

The latest installment in the Wonder series is a pair of drinks highlighting goma (sesame seeds). Starbuck’s “Goma Goma Goma Frappuccino” and “Goma Goma Goma Latte” both go heavy on the… well, it’s right there in the title.

The former (¥580) works in myriad other flavors to join the sesame, including chocolate and honey. It’s a lot, bordering on excessive even for the megachain. But it does deliver what it advertises.

The better option of the two is the goma latte (¥480 for a tall size). Besides offering a brief remedy to the cold weather outside, this beverage allows the sesame flavor more space to breath, though it still includes other flourishes (honey, again). Simplicity beats out overcrowded combinations, and should be the choice to represent Japanese tastes, at least for this month.

In line with COVID-19 guidelines, the government is strongly requesting that residents and visitors exercise caution if they choose to visit bars, restaurants, music venues and other public spaces.

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