Anpan: All About the Famous Japanese Snack and How It Became Popular

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  • Anpan is a delicious Japanese sweet roll filled with azuki (red bean) bean paste. The word comes from “an” meaning sweet bean paste and “pan” meaning bread. It was introduced in the late 1800’s and became a favorite for many Japanese. Even the famous cartoon Anpanman is based on this delicious bread.

    anpan 1

    The History of Anpan

    anpan bakery

    The maker of the first anpan was Yasubei Kimura, a samurai during the Meiji Period. In 1875, the dissolution of the samurai classes continued as everything was starting to become more westernized in Japan. Because of this, Kimura-san started looking for a way to make a living. While wandering around the area, he saw many samurai who had started working Western jobs which were entirely new to them. On one corner was a young man making some bread. That gave him an idea of starting his own bakery.

    The Ingredients of Anpan

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    Kimura-san wanted to create a bread suitable to Japanese taste buds. Many types of bread tasted salty and sour during that time as these were the only known recipes to them. He thought of using a Japanese traditional confection style known as manju. He started filling the bread with bean paste and started selling them as snacks. It became quite popular, as many people enjoyed buying anpan from him.

    One of these people was Yamaoka Tesshu, a chamberlain of the emperor who even asked Kimura-san to present some of the anpan to the emperor. Kimura-san did his best in making his anpan so they would look as presentable as possible by decorating each bun with salt-pickled sakura in the middle. The emperor loved the anpan so much that it was said he ordered having them every single day. This story spread throughout the place which made people want to try and buy anpan themselves. Its popularity even grew stronger.

    Anpan is a sweet snack every person in Japan should try. There are several kind of anpan available throughout the country. Would you like to try this famous snack?

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