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Release | nobu Kawashima

“Kumayaki” at Michi No Eki Aioi in Tsubets-cho is too cute to eat!


Have you ever tried “Kumayaki”? It’s a Taiyaki (Taiyaki is a fish-shaped pancake like Japanese snack. Kuma is “bear” in Japanese.) in the shape of a bear sold at “Michi No Eki Aioi” in Tsubetsu-cho. Since it was sold at Hokkaido exhibition in Tokyo, it has become the specialty of Tsubetsu-cho because it was extremely cute and got popular.  


What is Kumayaki?

There are basically four kinds of Kumayaki. 
くまやき▲I put four Kumayaki brothers together. It’s too cute to eat! 

The standard is brown “Higuma (red bean paste)”. 
They use Hokkaido produced flour and house-made soy milk instead of water to produce fluffy texture. Kumayaki was stuffed with plenty of flavorful red bean paste made with “Erimoshouzu” which is local red beans produced in Tsubetsu-cho and the neighborhood. 
“Shirokuma” (white bear) is also very popular. It is quite filling because it has chewy texture like mochi by using Tapioca powder instead of flour and soy milk.
くまやきカット▲The left one is “Higuma (red bean paste) and the right one is “Shirokuma”. 

“Higuma (cream)” and “Namakuma” are popular with kids and young people. “Higuma (cream)” uses soy milk cream instead of red bean paste in “Higuma (red bean paste)”. “Namakuma” uses the same dough as “Higuma (cream)” instead is stuffs red bean paste and fresh cream. 
“Namayaki” is the only cold one among four Kumayaki brothers. 
くまやきカット▲The left one is “Namakuma” and the right one is “Higuma (cream)”.

They also have seasonal and limited flavors irregularly. 
Tsubetsu-cho and Funabashi City in Chiba Prefecture have partnerships, and they once sold “Funakuma” limitedly which is a collaboration with “Funassy”, the unofficial character of Funabashi City. It had “red bean paste” and pear juice jelly produced in Funabashi. 


Why did Kumayaki become so popular?

Kumayaki is sold at Michi No Eki Aioi in Tsubetsu-cho. It is located in between Memanbetsu Airport and Lake Akan, so it is an easy stopping point when driving. 
道の駅あいおい▲Not only the exterior but vending machines are decorated with Kumayaki.  

When people were thinking about new products to enliven their Michi No Eki, Taiyaki mobile sales car sold very well. Therefore, they first thought of selling “Taiyaki” at Michi No Eki. 
They made Taiyaki in shape of bears, which is a Hokkaido-like animal and familiar (!?) in Tsubetsu-cho. Shigenari Onishi, an illustrator, born in Tsubetsu-town, designed “Kumayaki” and started selling in 2009. 
くまやき外装▲Not only Kumayaki itself but the cuteness of package designs is another secret of its popularity.  

At first, it only sold ten some pieces per day. A turning point comes in January 2016. 
They brought Kumayaki to Hokkaido Exhibition held in Ikebukuro Tobu Department Store; it was instantly shared so much as a “Kawaii” product in social networks. Hundreds of people came to the exhibition to purchase Kumayaki. They sold 2,000 pieces in a day.
After that, it was broadcasted on television in Hokkaido. People started to come to Michi No Eki in the mountains to purchase Kumayaki, and now it often sells 1,000 pieces a day. 
道の駅あいおい▲There is a special area to sell Kumayaki especially. It is a proof of Kumayaki’s popularity.

Many people come to buy Kumayaki even on weekdays. On three days weekends, people make long queys in front of the Kumayaki area. 


Kumayaki is all handmade

Kumayaki has become a popular snack. Even it sells a lot of amounts now; they do not use machines for mass production. Kumayaki is handmade with bear-shaped molds. 
クマヤキ製造風景▲Staffs make Kumayaki using hot mold continuously for all day.  

Local people take turns to make and sell Kumayaki. They make lots of Kumayaki especially from morning till noon, and they are too busy that they can not take breaks.  
クマヤキ製造風景▲While making “Higuma (red bean paste”), she started making “Shirokuma”. 
クマヤキ製造風景▲The staff is turning heavy molds to bake both sides of Kumayaki. It looks like quite a work…
クマヤキ製造風景▲Kumayaki is done! They can only make 6 Kumayaki at a time. To produce 1,000 Kumayaki, they need to repeat over 150 times…
Kumayaki is made by people. By knowing local people’s works put into this snack, it becomes extra cute together with the shapes. 

Kumayaki on your road trip!

Kumayaki fits just into your hands, so it is perfect as a snack when taking a little break and also a snack to take on your road trip! It is a great snack when you are a little hungry. 
Which one do you choose among four Kumayaki brothers? If you can’t choose, why don’t you visit here when you are hungry and eat everything to compare the flavors! 

クマヤキと道の駅▲I enjoyed Kumayaki while seeing old Kitami-Aioi Station and a train car exhibited at the back of Michi No Eki. 
  • “Kumayaki” at Michi No Eki Aioi in Tsubets-cho is too cute to eat!