Fugetsu-do Tsuchinoko Manju is an unmissable confection to try out if you are in Joge. I love its delicious pie crust and its sweet white beans paste filling. It is in my opinion one of the best Japanese sweets.
Why is Tsuchinoko manju one of the best Japanese sweets you will ever try?
First of all, we should answer the question: what is a manju? A manju is a traditional Japanese confection. It consists of a steamed bun filled with a sweet red or white beans paste. But, there can be variation in the filling. For example, with sweet potatoes or chestnuts paste.
Fugetsu-do took a very modern and innovative twist on this traditional pastry. A delicious pie crust perfectly baked replaced the traditional bun. The pie crust is deliciously buttery. And the sweetness of the white beans paste surrounding a whole chestnut balanced it very well. A cup of dark roasted tea is the perfect pairing.
What is tsuchinoko?
Tsuchinoko manju got its name from a legendary snake-shaped being. You can notice its drawing on the manju packaging. Tsuchinoko differs from a normal snake. It has a very large belly and makes a squeaking sound while moving around. It has yet to be confirmed, but some say that tsuchinoko have the ability to talk.
The year 1989 saw the boom of tsuchinoko hunting. Joge had its share of people coming to roam the mountains hoping to meet with the legendary creature. Fugetsu-do created Tsuchinoko manju this same year, in celebration of the travelers coming to hunt the fabulous animal.
The history of Fugetsu-do
In early 1968, Miyoko’s father founded Fugetsu-do. At first, the shop sold confectioneries broadly ranging from Western-style fresh cakes to traditional Japanese delicacies. However, Miyako and her father specialized over the years in refining the Tsuchinoko cake by blending Western and Japanese flavors.
Year after year, batch after batch, Miyoko kept helping her father. And this helpful hand was more than necessary during the busy seasons of New-Year and Obon. But, one day, the family routine dramatically came to an end. Miyoko’s father got severely ill and passed away. The shop was left unattended. Miyoko could not let the tradition her father created to die with him. She took it upon her herself to learn the secret recipe her father passed onto her. Helped by local elders, Miyoko is now the proud and busy owner of Fugestu-do, carrying on the tradition.
Most importantly, in order to keep the same taste for 30 years, Miyoko-san and her father before her, put in a lot of work. Depending on the season, the temperature and the humidity outside, the manju must be baked at different times of the morning. Often very early in summer. Then, Miyoko-san cleans the machines. And it takes more than 2 hours to do so.
Miyoko’s production remains human-sized. Along with her 2 part-time employees, they average 700 tsuchinoko manju on a regular day. Keeping it small ensures that we can enjoy the same delicious taste from the early days.
You will find tsuchinoko manju in our Travel to Joge box. The box is available to purchase right now. Don’t miss this chance to try out one of the best Japanese sweets!!