"We provide a firstclass taste brought directly from the earth" claims my pastry. It makes me wonder if one of the ingredients might be, oh, dirt.
The characters "ミニ" mean "mini" in English. If you look at the picture of an apple custard ring pastry above, you'll see those characters in a white circle on the label. This particular pastry cost only 149 yen ($1.40) and was sold in the section reserved for individual serving size pastries. I put a ballpoint pen next to it for size comparison. There is really nothing about this pastry that I'd say feels mini-sized. In fact, for someone who eats large portions, there are easily two servings. For me, there are three healthy servings or four smallish ones.
One of the oddest things in Japan is that some of the pastries sold in convenience stores and supermarkets for between 100-200 yen ($1-1.80) are labeled as "mini" and they are freaking huge. I've been here a long time and this is something which remains a mystery to me. Are they "mini" in that they are supposed to serve an entire family and would be considered small for that purpose? Is it ironic labeling? Does the word "mini" carry some other notion in katakana which I've not been made aware of? Or are Japanese portions only small when they aren't about pastries?
When searching for an explanation, I came across "ミニ" as it refers to British-made small cars and all things small. Perhaps the pastries are meant to be consumed in small British cars, or are as large as one of them. If anyone has some insight into why these large sweets are often labeled as "mini", I'd love to hear it.