When you look at recipes for traditional baking and traditional sweets, the ingredient lists usually contain eggs, milk, and butter - maybe even all three. For vegans, this rules out many desserts found on store shelves, but there are delicious alternatives if you look around a little! If you're visiting Okinawa, one place to check out for their sweet treats is Shima Chubo Kafuu in Kunigami.
This dessert shop creates a range of different products to satiate the sweet tooth, but without the use of any animal products whatsoever. For example, one traditional Okinawan sweet is chinsuko, a type of shortbread cookie. The standard recipe typically calls for lard to be used, but Shima Chubo Kafuu make a vegan version which uses sunflower oil instead.
Another wonderful thing about this dessert cafe is that there's a real emphasis placed on the use of locally sourced ingredients. There are tarts made with beni imo (Okinawan purple sweet potato), cakes topped with tropical delights like dragon fruit and passion fruit, and cookies in the shape of hibiscus flowers that bloom across the island. Flower petals are often used on their creations as garnishes, too, making them equally as aesthetically pleasing as they are delicious.
If you live in Japan but outside Okinawa, Shima Chubo Kafuu can ship a number of their products to other prefectures, and they're presented in a way that is perfect to gift for a special occasion. If you'd like to browse or order online, check out their website shop here.