Traditional Japanese Sweet Shop

I took a trip out to the nearby city of Hitachiota here in Ibaraki Prefecture. I spent the day visiting a number of different shrines and gardens, as well as a museum located inside a historical building that used to serve as their city hall.

Just as I was approaching the gates of my last shrine for the day, I was struck by this incredibly sweet smell wafting out of a tiny little sweet shop. The building was very conveniently located right beside the entrance to the shrine, and I couldn’t help but wander in right away. Apparently, the delicious smell was coming from a freshly steamed batch of miso manju. They were so fresh that the storekeeper hadn’t even had time to get them out yet! He actually went into the back to get one for me straight from the steamer.

Miso manju are a type of steamed bun with a light fluffy texture and a really pleasant molasses or maple like flavor. The batter has brown sugar and miso (soybean paste) in it, giving the outer layer a distinct color and taste. Inside, the bun is filled with sweet red bean jam. So simple, but absolutely delicious!

The little shop had a whole array of other freshly baked traditional sweets, as well as nostalgic snacks and candies that have apparently been sold in Japan since the mid 1900’s. Even just being inside the store itself was like travelling back in time!

After I had my fill of sweets, I finally made my way over to the shrine. Just like everywhere else I visited that day, it was so peaceful and serene. Unlike a lot of the shrines and temples in more urban areas of Japan, a lot of Hitachiota seems to be relatively undiscovered by tourists so it was almost dead silent. Such an amazing day!

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22 thoughts on “Traditional Japanese Sweet Shop

      1. Thank you! That makes me really happy. That’s exactly what I’m trying to achieve!
        You should definitely take a trip out to Japan. It’s very safe and friendly, and there are so many amazing things to do and eat 😀

    1. Thank you so much! I’m very happy to hear that! I’m really aiming to convey what things are like in this region of Japan — the things you can do, places you can visit, and of course…all the amazing food to eat! I do hope you’ll get the chance to visit.
      Likewise, your blog really makes me want to go back to India again. I so badly would like to take another trip over there. Hopefully I’ll get to Kashmir next time!

    1. Oh neat! Where in Vancouver did you live? I’ve been downtown for many years now, through university and grad school. There are a lot of Asian grocery stores here, and definitely *a lot* of sushi restaurants! And the number keeps growing haha

    1. Thank you! I know what you mean. I’m outside of Japan right now too, and I miss it so much. There’s something about Japan that even makes just walking down the street so much fun haha 😀

  1. Elle, the miso manju really reminds me of some Okinawan steamed cakes we ate a couple of years ago. They were brown sponge cakes, made with black Okinawan sugar that hadn’t been fully blended into the batter so you ended up with little tiny pockets of a molasses-like syrup where the clusters of sugar had steamed and absorbed the moisture. They were slightly gooey too, so reminiscent of the anko filling, I’m sure you would love them 🙂

    1. Oh man, that sounds amazing!! Okinawa is famous for their black sugar. I love the hard candies, or you can even just buy little cubes of the sugar and munch on it straight. But I never knew about the steamed cakes. I’ve got to find those!
      Have you tried karinto? I actually found non-fried karinto the other day so the texture is soft like bread instead of crunchy. They have a strong molasses flavour similar to Okinawan black sugar. So good 😀

    1. I’m with you! There’s just something about steamed buns that’s unlike anything else. Especially when they’re so fresh that you break them open and steam comes rising out. Very satisfying hehehe 😛

  2. Im always fascinated by Japanese sweets, but quite often feeling lost when Im in the shop, not knowing what to buy. Next time I will look out for these Miso manju buns.. Thank you for the recommendation 🙂

    1. I hope you can find some! The miso manju can be a bit tricky to find outside of Japan. When I’m in Vancouver, I almost never see them. Some really common Japanese sweets even in the West are things like anpan (red bean paste buns) and dorayaki (special pancakes with red bean jam). Those are also pretty fantastic!

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