Christmas Cakes in Japan?
Since only a small percentage of Japanese people are Christian, many people might be surprised by the prevalence of Christmas decorations and cakes. Before I came to Japan I had never even heard of Christmas cake.
NPR reported several years back on the history of how Christmas cakes become popular in Japan; today they are a holiday tradition that anyone can enjoy, even those of us with allergies. More bakeries are selling allergen-free and gluten-free cakes. Some bakeries also offer vegan cakes or will be vegan-friendly.
A Word of Warning
“Gluten-Free” is still not very well-known in Japan, and mistakes and misunderstandings sometimes happen. Some people have reported getting the wrong cakes delivered, and allergen-free cakes are sometimes made in the same factory as allergens. If you are celiac, you might prefer to order from facilities that handle only gluten-free or allergen-free items.
Gluten-Free Dedicated Shops
The following shops claim to only handle gluten-free items in their facilities. Many of these places have limited supplies.
Tokyo and Kanagawa
If you happen to be near one of the Marlowe shops on our map, you could walk in and get a Christmas Cake today. Marlowe will sell a limited supply of Christmas cakes through 12/25 inside their shops. All their cakes are gluten free and made with almond powder. The Christmas cake is filled with raisins and figs and has a layer of chocolate on top. It is a different style from most of the other Christmas cakes on this list, but I enjoyed its hearty taste. Leftovers would be a perfect lazy breakfast or shinkansen snack.
This gluten-free Kanagawa shop sells GF shortcakes and roll cakes only available for pickup in their shop. You can also message them on Instagram with the date/time of pickup, type of cake, name, phone number. People should order by 12/16.
Rizriant in Kichijoji is a rice flour bakery with several different kinds of Christmas cakes, including cheesecake and chocolate mousse. All of their cakes are gluten-free, and many of their items do not include any of the 27 allergens. They will have a limited supply and only take orders in-person or on the phone; order by 12/15.
Coconut Dream in Kawasaki has a couple of different gluten-free Christmas cakes. They advertise on Instagram that you can try slices of the two cakes in their shop. Orders can be made online or in the store by 12/17. This shop offers sweets without gluten, egg, dairy, soy, or refined sugar.
Comeonoco have some cakes in their shop from 12/20-12/25, but their supplies will be limited. People should order at least one day in advance; order inside the shop or by Facebook/Instagram messages. Their choices are: GF Vegan Japanese Chestnut Cream Tart or GF Strawberry Shortcake (featured photo). The Strawberry Shortcake is not vegan, but they can make a banana-flavored vegan sponge cake base upon request.
Allergen-free, gluten-free, and vegan cakes available at this allergy-specialized bakery. Orders can be made in the shop or online until December 15th.
The following shops have allergen-free cakes, but not all are guaranteed gluten-free or if there is any cross-contamination. Check the product you order carefully.
Chaya Macrobiotics (Tokyo)
Chaya has allergen-free, gluten-free, vegan cakes, but they also carry baked goods made with wheat. Their cakes can be ordered by calling or stopping by one of their shops, including their location in Isetan in Shinjuku-Sanchome. They are also a restaurant that offers some gluten-free and vegan/vegetarian items. Order by 12/15.
7/11 has a couple of different allergen-free cakes, a rice flour and soymilk cream cake and a rice flour and soymilk cocoa crème yule log cake. Their cakes can be ordered online and delivered to your address. There are also pamphlets in their shops. If you want your cake between 12/20-23rd you need to order by 12/17 10:30am. If you want your cake between 12/24-25th you need to order by 12/19 10:30 am.
Aeon has some fun and festive cake designs that kids would likely enjoy. The shortcake that they use comes from Takaki Bakery, who advertise that their cake is egg-free, dairy-free, wheat-free, gluten-free. It does not contain any of the 7 major allergens. They have a chocolate cake and a shortcake. If you order by 12/14.
Ginza Cozy Corner
Many people recommend the allergen-free cakes from Cozy Corner, and not only during Christmastime. You will need to scroll down through their page to get to their allergen-free cakes. Their cakes are not certified gluten free, but they do not contain wheat, eggs, or milk. Outside of Christmas season, their allergen-free cakes can be ordered at one of their branches 3 days in advance.
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Happy holidays, whatever you celebrate!