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Character-themed foods have long been a staple at Japanese convenience stores. Although these limited-time offerings are often adorable, they usually look much better than they taste.

Lawson and Seven-Eleven recently unveiled new character tie-ups that illustrate this problem. The former has started selling new nerikiri sweets in the shape of popular bear Rilakkuma and friends (¥285 after tax), while the latter is doing the same with characters from popular anime series “Detective Conan” (¥258 before tax). Both look fantastic, but lack much in terms of flavor besides being blandly sugary.

Far better is a new item at FamilyMart that sacrifices aesthetics in favor of flavor. Its new Sumikkogurashi-themed sweet (¥168 after tax) looks like a vaguely bear-shaped white blob, but it has a sweet milk taste worthy of the convenience store dessert section, though probably not on your #stayhome social media.

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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