The idea of millefeuille isn’t new to Japan, they have been making these kinds of cakes for as long as I can remember. It’s also true Japanese admire any invention, creative tool, or fad. It’s also true the Japanese are not seen as inventive, but that’s far from the truth. Just think of the many wonderful foods that intrigue tourists, and consider that many Japanese techniques are unique to Japanese culture.
Now think of millefeuille crepes and the notion of taking individual crepes, smothering them with cream, and layering crepe after crepe onto one another until you have a millefeuille cake. The crepe cake below was photographed at Dean & DeLuca in Tokyo.
This technique developed long ago, now step back a little further in time the 18th century, and you have the rolled coffee wafers. They were presented to table in a glass tazza. Made from 100% chocolate ground on a metate stone, they melted very easily in the fingers so they were coated with nonpareil comfits: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nonpareils
The sicilians filled cannelons with all sorts of fruit pastes and creams, it is probably to avoid getting your fingers sticky: https://mesubim.com/tag/cannoli-noto/
The neapolitans have been using these techniques to make wafer thin creamy filled biscuits, as you can see in the video: https://mesubim.com/2013/11/12/gay-odin-napoli/.
We shouldn’t forget the notion of a “kit-kat” as it goes back to the early 1900’s and is also based on the same ideology. But frankly speaking there are many gourmet inventions and ideas that have been crushed by mass production and this is one of them.
Mass production not here, Babbi: http://www.babbi.co.jp make the most incredible wafers filled with cremes. But the real original Neapolitan wafers were invented in 1898 by the company’s founder Josef Manner I, and the format and basic recipe remain unchanged to this day.