Trivia: Onsen Manju (温泉饅頭: Hot Spring Steamed Buns)
Manju (饅頭) is a type of Wagashi traditional Japanese confection consisting of a steamed bun filled with sweet Azuki red bean paste called Anko (餡子).
The Wagashi cake has about 700 years of history, and today, the sweet comes in various varieties.
Based on the variety of dough, Manju is available in several types, among which Cha-Manju (茶饅頭), made with wheat flour, brown sugar, and baking soda/powder, is the most common.
Stuffed with Anko, the main characteristic of Cha-Manju is its soft and fluffy dough that typically has a brown color.
Onsen Manju (温泉饅頭)
You can see many variations of Cha-Manju in various areas of Japan.
For instance, if you go on a hot spring trip in my country, you will notice many souvenir shops in the Onsen resort selling steamed buns called Onsen Manju (温泉饅頭).
Onsen Manju generally refers to Cha-Manju sold in hot spring resorts, which is a standard, long-time favorite souvenir when we Japanese visit Onsen resorts.
Also, Onsen Manju tends to be served by Ryokan hotels in the Onsen resort as part of their hospitality service or Omotenashi (おもてなし) during or after check-in, usually with green tea.
As for the origin of Onsen Manju, there are various opinions, but it is generally considered Ikaho Onsen (伊香保温泉), a hot spring resort in Gunma Prefecture, is its birthplace.
Specifically, Onsen Manju is said to have been first created by a confectionery shop that specialized in Dango (団子) dumplings in Ikaho Onsen, Shogetsudo (勝月堂).
Their Onsen Manju made a big splash and became famous after Emperor Showa purchased the steamed buns when he visited Ikaho Onsen in 1934.
Now, the Onsen Manju sold in Ikaho Onsen is also known as Yunohana Manju (湯乃花饅頭).
Shop Information: Shougetsudo (勝月堂)
- Address: 9 Ikaho, Ikahomachi, Shibukawa, Gunma Prefecture (Google Maps)
- Open: 9:00 to 18:00
- Irregular holidays
(Reference Page: Wikipedia 温泉饅頭 )