The Reason Why Taiyaki Pancake is Shaped Like a Fish

When it comes to Japanese pancake filled with sweetened Azuki red bean paste “Anko (あんこ)”, I think “Dorayaki (どら焼き)” is probably the best-recognized in many countries, because it is Doraemon’s “yummy buns”.

In addition to Dorayaki, there are actually another 2 traditional Anko-stuffed pancakes that have long been loved in Japan, which are “Imagawayaki (今川焼き)” and “Taiyaki (たい焼き)”.

Why Taiyaki is Shaped Like Sea Bream

Taiyaki Pancake

As I wrote in this article about the former before, today let me talk about the latter Taiyaki cake. Specifically, about the reason why Taiyaki is shaped like a fish, for many overseas people who know the sweet treat seem to wonder why.

Actually, it is “Kanbe Seijiro (神戸清次郎)”, the founder of the confectionery shop “Naniwaya Sohonten (浪花屋総本店)” (Google Map) founded in 1909, that created the fish-shaped pancake.

Based on the Japanese site Collaborative Reference Database, at first, he sold Imagawayaki pancakes, but those didn’t sell. So next, he began selling turtle-shaped Imagawayaki, but that also failed.

After that, he finally achieved great success in Taiyaki, the Imagawayaki pancake modeled after the shape of Japanese red sea bream or “Tai (鯛 or たい)”.

The reason why he thought he wanted to make the fish-shaped pancake is that it is generally believed in Japan that the red sea bream Tai is a fish that brings good luck, and besides, at that time it was quite difficult for the common people to have a real Tai because it was an expensive, luxurious food.

By the way, one primary reason why Tai is considered a lucky fish in Japan is that its name sounds like the Japanese term meaning auspicious or happy “Medetai (めでたい)”.

Shop Information: Naniwaya Sohonten (浪花屋総本店)

Even now, you can have the original Taiyaki at Naniwaya Sohonten. For those of you who are interested in the classic pancake and want to give it a try someday, lastly, here is the shop information.

  • Address: 1-8-14 Azabujuban, Minato-ku, Tokyo (MAP)
  • Open: Monday, Wednesday to Sunday (10:00 to 19:00)
  • Closed: Tuesdays, Third Wednesday


Hi, I'm Tomo, a Japanese blogger living in Niigata Prefecture, Japan. For the purpose of enriching your life, I would like to introduce things about Japan on this blog, especially unique Japanese products, cooking recipes, cultures, and facts and trivia.

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