Ningyo Yaki: Traditional Character-Shaped Sponge Cake

The other day, I placed an order with Amazon Japan for a traditional Japanese confection and yesterday received it, and here is what I purchased this time. 

Ningyo Yaki Sponge Cake

Actually, these are sponge cakes, called “Ningyo Yaki (人形焼)”, modeled after the faces of some characters and are famous as a Tokyo souvenir.

Ningyo Yaki (人形焼)

Ningyo Yaki Character Shaped Sponge Cake

Once removing the plastic wrappers, you can clearly see the outline of the face. These are a traditional Japanese confection called “Ningyo Yaki (人形焼)”. 

“Ningyo (人形)” literally means “doll” in Japanese, while the suffix “Yaki (焼)” stands for the cooking method “bake”.

Ningyo Yaki vs Taiyaki 

Featuring its character shape, Ningyo Yaki is a baked Castella cake filled with “Anko (餡子)” sweet Azuki red bean paste, so the dough is made mainly from hen’s egg, wheat flour, and sugar or starch syrup. 

Taiyaki Cake

Meanwhile, similar to Ningyo Yaki, the traditional Japanese pancake, “Taiyaki (たい焼き)” also has an Anko filling. It can actually be made with the same ingredients as Ningyo Yaki but is definitely shaped like the red sea bream that the word “Tai (鯛)” means.

Character Shapes

Ningyo Yaki

Traditionally, Ningyo Yaki is modeled after the faces of “Shichifukujin (七福神: Seven Lucky Gods)” like these or “Bunraku Ningyo (文楽人形: Bunraku Puppet)”.

But in recent years, Ningyo Yaki is also available in various Manga or Anime character shapes like Doraemon and Hello Kitty.

Ningyo Yaki in Asakusa, Tokyo

Sensoji Kaminarimon

If you have a plan to visit Asakusa in Tokyo for sightseeing and stop by “Sensoji (浅草寺)”, the oldest temple in Tokyo, you will see some shops in the precincts baking Ningyo Yaki.

Actually, Ningyo Yaki is known as one of the specialty foods of Asakusa, together with “Kaminari Okoshi (雷おこし)“.

Where to Buy Ningyo Yaki in Tokyo

Since Ningyo Yaki originated in Ningyo-Cho, Nihonbashi, Tokyo, the character-shaped sponge cake is one of the traditional sweets that Tokyo prides itself on.

Therefore, you can find Ningyo Yaki in various places in Tokyo like souvenir shops in train stations.

(Reference Pages: Wikipedia 人形焼, たい焼き )



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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