All About Japan

Chocolates Molded into the Head of Buddha

Sweets Buddhism Souvenirs

Being located in Kyoto, Japan’s center of traditional culture, you might imagine chocolate specialist Cacao Magic’s offerings to have an elegant air to them. You’d be right, too, as the confectioner’s sweets are designed to be a treat for the eyes as well as the palate.

You may also expect Cacao Magic to produce some uniquely Japanese chocolates, and again you’d be right. While most of its candies take the orthodox forms of hearts, squares and discs, you’ll also find something called the Amasumi Butsuda in the product lineup. Butsuda means “head of the Buddha,” and that’s exactly what they look like, as you can see in the photo above.

But Butsuda is only half of the name—and thus half of the story of—amasumi butsuda. Sumi means charcoal, and while it might not be such a common seasoning in Western cuisine, it’s not an entirely unprecedented flavoring in Japan. What's unusual though, even by Japanese standards, is the ama portion of amasumi, which means hemp.

Yes, mixed in with the chocolate used to make Amasumi Butsuda is a measure of hemp charcoal. Given the stringent anti-drug stance taken by both Japanese law and culture at large, it’s unlikely that eating Amasumi Butsuda will cause any of the narcotic effects associated with other uses of the herb. However, for those wishing to avoid eating hemp, the rest of Cacao Magic's extensive catalog of chocolates is entirely hemp-free.

Cacao Magic is currently taking pre-orders for Amasumi Butsuda through its website, with prices starting at ¥1,500 (US$12.50) for a pack of three.

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