Onsen Trivia: Onsen Manju (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, Manju cake has about 700 years of history and today comes in many varieties.
In fact, based on the variety of dough, Manju is classified into several types, among which the one whose dough is made from wheat flour, brown sugar, and baking soda, “Cha-Manju (茶饅頭)” is the most common.
Stuffed with Anko, Cha-Manju is especially characterized by its soft fluffy dough that typically has a brown color.
Onsen Manju (温泉饅頭)
Actually, many variations of Cha-Manju can be seen in various areas of Japan.
For example, if you have a chance to go on a hot spring trip in Japan, you will notice that many souvenir shops in the Onsen resort are selling steamed buns called “Onsen Manju (温泉饅頭)”.
Actually, Onsen Manju generally refers to Cha-Manju sold in hot spring resorts, and the Cha-Manju is a standard, long-time favorite souvenir when we Japanese visit Onsen resorts.
Not only that but as a hospitality service or “Omotenashi (おもてなし)” during or after check-in, some traditional Japanese hotels in the Onsen resort serve the guest an Onsen Manju for free, usually with green tea.
As for the origin of Onsen Manju, there are various opinions, but it is generally considered that “Ikaho Onsen (伊香保温泉)”, a popular hot spring resort in Gunma Prefecture, is the birthplace of Onsen Manju.
Specifically, Onsen Manju is said to have been first created by a confectionery shop that specialized in “Dango (団子)” dumplings in Ikaho Onsen, “Shougetsudo (勝月堂)”.
Their Onsen Manju made a big splash and became famous after Emperor Showa purchased quite a lot of the steamed buns when he visited Ikaho Onsen in 1934.
By the way, the Onsen Manju sold in Ikaho Onsen is also called “Yunohana Manju (湯乃花饅頭)”.
Shop Information: Shougetsudo (勝月堂)
- Address: 9 Ikaho, Ikahomachi, Shibukawa, Gunma Prefecture (MAP)
- Open: 9:00 to 18:00
- Irregular holidays
(Reference Page: Wikipedia 温泉饅頭 )