Food Souvenirs 名物 in Japan!

4 06 2009

Heya, time for a new post, while some people I don’t care about play their matches in the French Open :P, i.e. Gonzalez, Soderling, Safina, and some lady who’s last name starts with a C.

Today, instead of entire meals, I’m going to cover the flour based snacks that Japan is famous for, the many many varieties of manjuu.  I’m not talking about real manjuu not the suspicious one you see below :P.  Hit the jump for more.

Yes... the long rumored Oppai Manjuu is in fact very much real.  Hurrah for living in Japan I guess?

Yes... the long rumored Oppai Manjuu is in fact very much real. Hurrah for living in Japan I guess?

I’m sure you’ve all heard of 饅頭 or manjuu, Japanese sweets with an outer skin made of flour, rice powder, and buckwheat.  Traditional ones even have fillings of red or green bean paste.  However, like everything in Japan the new and the old are constantly being mixed with fillings going from orange to mango to curry…. yes Japanese curry.

This isn’t the case for Canada and most countries that I’ve been to, but almost every place in Japan has it’s own distinctive manjuu or manjuu type food, aka 名物 meibutsu in Japanese.  They are distinctive enough that if you presented one of these follow foods to a Japanese person, they will IMMEDIATELY be able to tell you where you have gone.

First up, the momiji manjuu.  Since I’m from Canada this one holds a bit of a special place in my heart :).  I didn’t take any of these pictures, because I didn’t realize that this would make good writing material before consuming my snacks :(.

Who said maple leaves were only special in Canada?

Who said maple leaves were only special in Canada?

A maple leaf shaped flour pastry traditionally filled sweet red bean paste is the most famous product of Hiroshima, not sure how this came to be though.  However, because of the bean paste these are typically only good for 3-4 days after you purchase them, so they are not something you’ll be able to bring home to friends.  But!  Japan has come up with a solution to your problem, would you like your manjuu filled with orange and mango paste or curry paste?  They’ll last longer!  They’re also rather nasty too :P.

Next up, the yatsuhashi!

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O.. I do have a picture of my own Yatsuhashi

O.. I do have a picture of my own Yatsuhashi

The yatsuhashi is probably the most famous meibutsu of them all and originates from the old capital of Kyoto.  These don’t spoil nearly as quickly, and again come in all sorts of “wonderful” flavors too.  The snack itself is really just a rice flour, sugar, and cinnmon skin wraped around some flavored paste.  They come in baked and unbaked varieties too, baked is crunchy while the unbaked is soft, SURPRISE!

Last one for now, since I haven’t travelled to nearly enough places.  The meibutsu of Nagoya and a number of  other cities in Japan is…. the Uirou.

img10232450044The Uirou is essentially a steam rice cake made with rice, flour and sugar, but delicious nonetheless.  According to the Japanese wikipedia, the Nagoya variant is without a doubt the most famous, but other major variants include the Ise, the Yamaguchi, and the Tokushima uirou.  They were first sold on a large scale on the Nagoya train platforms in 1931.  They gained their gained their popularity after their introduction to the food carts of the Tokaido Shinkansen (which runs through Nagoya) in 1964.  First time reading Japanese wikipedia, but who would have thought that Japanese wikipedia was useful for Japanese stuff!

Hopefully, I made your mouths water a bit.  Acquiring meibutsu is without a doubt, the best way of proving that you’ve been to a certain place so make sure you pick some of these up.

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9 responses

4 06 2009
guorbatschow

food + boob = instawin

5 06 2009
Nyarth

I swear I ate the Uirou before, it tasted kinda sweet.

LOL at the oppai manjuu.

5 06 2009
maru

Very interesting. Would love to try the maple leaf pastry thing and Uirou. Just because it sounds like Ui. ^^

5 06 2009
Yuki Phnx

I love manjuu!!! My fave is the red-bean paste manjuu.

And ya, agreeing with the others, oppai manjuu is teh win

6 06 2009
robostrike

Yum ^_^ Makes me want to eat them now T_T Nothing near the Japanese style of snacks at my workplace. All that’s available are stale crackers and chips no one buys from ‘metro’ .T_T. You’re also tempting me to try the mango / curry paste on manjuu.
@ Yukiphnx: I too like the red bean manjuu too ^_^

6 06 2009
bluemage

I absolutely love the Uirou and the Manjuu! They’re not overly sweet, which is what I like best.

8 06 2009
M

Hurray! Some of Canada infected Japan!

10 06 2009
Lorfarius

I can’t wait for my trip to Japan (roll on August!). Certainly going to try as many as these as possible.

11 06 2009
aaroninjapan09

Hehe you should, and you should also see which ones you can bring home. They make wonderful gifts.

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