Sugar in Japan and the Dangers of Artificial Sweeteners

Sugar in Japan and the Dangers of Artificial Sweeteners|TOMO Japanese Online Shop

How Japan Have Been Using Sugar as a Gift

Outside of worldwide known gifts day (Valentine day, Mother’s day, Christmas, etc.), Japan has lots of other gift-giving occasions, such as the o-chugen period (July 1st to July 15th) and o-seibo in winter. Japanese people often send sweets as a gift.

In the past, seaweed, dried bonito flakes, somen noodles or canned food with white sugar were used for gifts. Sugar was a precious commodity. Nowadays, sugar in Japan is still one of the most popular gifts, but it is offered in different forms: cakes, cookies, etc.

Tasty foods are mostly sweet, and sugar has long been used as a "medicine" to get energy and cure illness.

In Europe, the use of white sugar was monopolized by the upper classes, and was therefore admired by the general public.

Sugar in Japan and the Dangers of Artificial Sweeteners|TOMO

Sugar in Japan after World War II

After World War II, food was scarce in Japan. Children were cheered up by chocolates and caramels distributed by the U.S. occupying forces.

The taste of sugar is both fascinating and addicting.

Sugar is quickly absorbed through the mucous membranes of the mouth, raising both your energy and blood sugar level. This is why it is not recommended for people with high blood sugar levels.

Limited in calories, artificial sweeteners appeared as a miracle solution for those in search of sugar.

The Emergence of Artificial Sweeteners in Japan and Their Usage

Artificial sweeteners currently approved as food additives include:

  • Saccharin

  • Aspartame

  • Glycyrrhizic acid

  • D-sorbitol

  • D-xylitol

  • Sucralose

  • Acesulfame K (potassium),

and more.

You can tell if any of these artificial sweeteners are added by looking at the back of the package of bottled beverages or processed foods. However, you cannot know the amount.

Do Artificial Sweeteners Affect Liver Function?

Artificial sweeteners are not also metabolized in the body, and they are considered as "foreign substances".

The liver has many functions, including sorting and discarding substances that are harmful to our body.

Sugar in Japan and the Dangers of Artificial Sweeteners|TOMO

Excessive intake of artificial sweeteners can overload the detoxification process, and the ability of the liver to eliminate other wastes, chemicals, and toxins.

Artificial sweeteners are often described as having "no calories" because they are not metabolized by the body. However, it is also important to keep in mind they also put a burden on the liver.

There are also artificial sweeteners that are hundreds of times sweeter than sugar and can increase your desire for it. Consequently, even if you consume artificial sweeteners, it will be difficult to break free from a sweetness addiction.

“Low calories” and Artificial Sweeteners: Be Careful of the Trap

Artificial sweeteners have an impact on the liver, and we don’t know their connection with carcinogenicity, which is still under study. If you are craving sugar, it is safer for your body (and more satisfying) to eat a small amount of sweets made with natural sugar.

Being focused only on calories is not healthy: you might then not get the nutrients essential for your survival, and you will end up only eating chemically synthesized additives that are not metabolized by your body.

We should try to curb our cravings for sweetness as much as possible. If you have a craving, you should try sweets made from natural sugar, honey or starch syrup.

A Smart Choice For Sweets Cravings: Japanese Wasanbon Sugar

TOMO Shichifukujin wasanbon (Seven Lucky Gods Shaped Wasanbon Sugars) are smooth sugars that contain minerals. They are made by a traditional method that has been handed down since the Edo period (1603-1868) in Japan.

These traditional wagashi are produced from a special type of sugar cane called chikusha, which grows on the Shikoku island.

With their original and traditional Japanese shape, TOMO Wasanbon sugars are a popular gift in Japan and they are becoming trendy in the U.S on Amazon.

Sugar in Japan|TOMO Wasanbon Shichifukujin



The Best Traditional Japanese Sweetener For Your Drinks!

Even if you like to drink your coffee or tea without sugar, there is nothing wrong with adding a touch of sweetness sometimes! However, it is best to pick natural sugars rather than being tempted by artificial sweeteners, even if they are described as "low calorie".

The Best Traditional Japanese Sweetener For Your Drinks!|TOMO


This is one of the drawbacks with bitter and astringent drinks: they are often difficult to consume without sugar.

Compared to coffee, Café Genshin (roasted brown rice coffee) has a much lower bitterness and astringency. You can easily drink it unsweetened, but if needed, you can add a little bit of wasanbon or Japanese kuromitsu syrup.

Just because you want to take care of your health doesn't mean you can't enjoy yourself!


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