Wagashi: What is Jouyo Manju?
“Manju (饅頭)” is a representative type of “Wagashi (和菓子)” traditional Japanese confection which basically consists of “Anko (餡子)” sweetened Azuki red bean paste wrapped in a wheat flour dough.
It is a steamed bun that comes in various variants, but the most common variety is “Cha Manju (茶饅頭)”, also known as “Onsen Manju (温泉まんじゅう)”, whose dough is made from wheat flour, brown sugar, and baking soda.
Cha Manju is a soft, fluffy cake featuring its brown hue that comes from the ingredient brown sugar, as the word “Cha (茶)” means brown in Japanese.
Jouyo Manju (薯蕷饅頭)
Actually, some types of Manju are made without using wheat flour and the quintessential examples include “Jouyo Manju (薯蕷饅頭)”.
In its name, “Jouyo (薯蕷)” is a synonym for “Yamaimo (山芋)” or Japanese yam, and as this indicates, the main ingredients in Jouyo Manju’s dough are the grated yam, non-glutinous rice flour called “Joshinko (上新粉)”, and sugar.
As with most other Manju buns, Jouyo Manju is usually stuffed with Anko paste and made by steaming the dough. It is a slightly moist, soft cake, and the pair of red and white Manju “Kouhaku Manju (紅白饅頭)” is also included in Jouyo Manju.
Kouhaku Manju (紅白饅頭)
In Japan, the color combination of red and white is called “Kouhaku (紅白)” and considered to be a lucky charm. Therefore, Kouhaku Manju is customarily prepared as a gift on auspicious occasions.
Jouyou Manju (上用饅頭)
Actually, Jouyo Manju is also known as “Jouyou Manju (上用饅頭: loosely meaning Manju meant for precious persons)” and in modern times can refer to any steamed, Anko-stuffed Manju cake that is prepared as presents or for the Japanese tea ceremony “茶道 (Sado or Chado)”.