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Revived Through Hometown Love and Artisanal Spirit: Yamatobito Meoto Manju

An Auspicious Red and White Specialty Sweet of Nara with Three Layers of Vividly Different Tastes

A warm cloud of steam and the gentle scent of sake arises when opening the steaming basket. This is Nara’s specialty confection, Meoto Manju (“Meoto” means “husband and wife”).

Eating a celebratory red and white manju at cerebration places is a long standing matrimonial tradition in Japan.

The first thing to notice is the cut profile of the manju. The white dough of Japanese yams gently wraps the smooth adzuki bean paste, resting on a light red sake bun.

A rich dollop of crushed adzuki bean paste peeks out from between the two buns. The beautiful cross-section of the three layers can be said to form a Japanese mille-feuille, and each layer adds a different flavor to the harmonized whole.

A Modern Rendition of a Hit Japanese Confection from the Edo Period

Meoto Manju is in fact a popular confection of the Edo Period that has been revived for the first time in 60 years. It is said there were many shops selling the sweets in Sakurai City of the Kurosaki District along the Hatsune Road, targeting the travelers returning from Ise. The Meoto Manju are even introduced in the “Pictorial Guide to 33 Famous Sights in Western Japan,” a guidebook used during the Edo Period (1603-1868).

Mr. Kiyotaka Horii, President of Kyoei Printing Co., Ltd. in Sakurai City sought to recreate the once famous manju that had disappeared over time. The actual task of reproducing the manju was done by Mr. Joichiro Kita, an artisan from the Japanese confectioner Kashiya, who did so based on Mr. Horii’s research. Gathering the best flour, adzuki beans, sugar and other ingredients from throughout the country, the Meoto Manju was impressively reproduced using local Nara sake lees. In the spirit of a true artisan, Mr. Kita never compromises on taste, finds improvements daily and always seeks to evolve the manju further.

“Nara possesses a great depth of history, and manju are part of that history. I would like people to taste the manju, and enjoy the culinary delights of Nara firsthand,” Mr. Horii says about his desire to revitalize the region.

Treat Your Senses as You Take in this Impressive and Historic Road

Meoto Manju can be enjoyed at the Yamato Komoriku no Sato Yamatobito no Kokoro Shop. A set featuring a freshly steamed manju bun and tea or coffee is just 940 yen. Looking down from the second floor tatami mat room on the Hatsune Road where people visiting Ise would come and go, or looking out upon the ryokan lodges that have operated since the Edo Period, you can truly feel the aura of this historic road from the Edo Period. There’s also a range of takeout options, from a set of 3 manju for 1,231 yen to a set of 12 manju for 4,925 yen.

Meoto Manju are the product hometown love and artisanal spirit. Be sure to enjoy one these cute and fluffy manju, reborn thanks to the earnest efforts and devotion of two individuals.

※ Prices include tax / as of January 2017


Yamato Komoriku no Sato Yamatobito no Kokoro Shop

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