September 12, 12 | Takako Chiba
Today I'd like to tell you about a delicious red bean paste treat that has been loved for over 100 years, since 1906.
The word "anpan" in Japanese means "red bean paste filled bread" and usually brings to mind the image of delicious red bean paste inside fluffy breading. But that's not entirely accurate. Take for example the "Tsukisamu" snack, a tightly packed treat which isn’t fluffy at all.
During the Meiji Era the Japanese Army's 25th infantry regiment were stationed in Tsukisamu, Hokkaido, and this is where the treat was born.
This Anpan really does look like a mooncake.
This shape was modeled after the "Sakura Anpan," a big hit in Ginza, Tokyo in 1874. A member of the regiment in Tsukisamu, who was interested in making candies, first tried mimicking this shape after hearing rumors of the Ginza treat and used his imagination to fill in the blanks. This manufacturing process was then taught to Mr. Honma Yosaburo, who started the company "Honma," and led to the treat we see today.
Mr. Honma Yosaburo's anpan was made in a tunnel brick oven. The thick bean paste pastry is cooked on a steel plate with heat on both the bottom and sides. When it was first sold, sweets were a rare delicacy, so it was an immediate hit with the soldiers!
In 1911, while the 25th regiment was constructing a road between Tsukisamu and Hiragishi, the residents of Toyahiro Town would give each soldier five anpan a day as a show of gratitude. This led to the road being given the nickname "Anpan Road" and in 1987 a monument was erected on the site.
During this time seven shops selling the treat had opened on the street in front of the regiment’s main gates. However during and after the war disorder led to the closing of all locations. In 1947 manufacturing resumed, but only one location, Honma, continued production.
The red beans (adzuki beans) used in production of this snack are from Tokachi, Hokkaido, and are carefully made into bean paste at the factory. The process of making the treat hasn't changed since the Meiji Era, and so the traditions and experiences are passed down generation to generation.
Each side of the treat is coated with an egg mixture by hand, and are still today cooked in a tunnel oven.
▲There is also a pumpkin paste version!
There you have it, the Tsukisamu Anpan. Tightly packed with red bean paste, and heavier than it looks. For those from Sapporo it has that familiar taste of home. For a more modern bite, try the new variations, such as the stick type, you'll find that you can enjoy the classic taste in a plethora of new ways.
So be sure to try out today's special snack, the Tsukisamu Anpan!
▲Tsukisamu Anpan Head Office, Odori Shop (1st floor of Odori Bisse in Sapporo)
● Tsukisamu Anpan Head Office, Honma Co.
2-1 Tsukisamu Higashi 2-Jyo 3-Chome, Toyohira-ku, Sapporo
(Hokkaido Likers Writer - Takako Chiba)
※Photos coutesy of Tsukisamu Anpan Head office, Honma Co., and Hokkaido Likers Photo Writer - Itsuki