Form and function go hand in hand and above and beyond in almost every category I can think of in Japan. Nothing is just a thing. Everything is an experience. You don't just see some flowers- you plan a whole weekend around visiting the most beautifully decked trees, dress traditionally for the occasion, and wander, gazing a the same blossoms for long periods of time, and snack on foods that are all flower seasoned and flower themed.
You don't just have some soup- you pour it into your lacquerware, steaming hot and too scalding to drink- and you inhale the flavoured steam, you watch it waft from your bowl and dissipate into the air, and you gaze into the cloudy depths of miso and water and notice places where the clouds are thick, where they are thin, where you can see the bottom of your bowl and where you can't, and where the colours change and blend.
Snacks and treats are often no exception, and I've had some fun discovering the seasonal items popping up around the conbinis lately. For summer, treats are often made to evoke images or feelings of summer, like watermelon, ice, water, the beach, etc. It gives the treat a whole atmosphere somehow, and makes eating them feel like some sort of event or transformation. The power of suggestion really works here- you aren't really eating ice, and you aren't really at the seaside, but something about the perfectly designed and packaged snack takes you there and you leave feeling a couple degrees cooler and certainly more charmed.
This delightful snack is called Kuzu Dango- it's ground arrowroot with water, and steamed to make it soft and plump like mochi. It's perfectly clear and served in little chunks, so it looks just like a bowl of ice. You can find it in the refrigerated section, so it's nice and cold and refreshing. It comes with a little packet of black sugar syrup to lightly flavour the virtually tasteless mochi, and then you can sprinkle kinako (soybean powder) to top it all off.
also, box watermelon!