Momiji Manjū, A Lovely Japanese Gift

By Derrick Theys

This little Japanese cake is called a momiji manjū. It is made of buckwheat and rice, and comes with a variety of fillings, like red bean, custard, or chocolate.

We bought a pack of momiji manjū on the island of Miyajima, in the bay of Hiroshima, where it is a speciality and a popular souvenir. They’re soft, spongy and delicious.

Many of the cake shops have the machine that makes them right there in the window. A batter is poured into a hot maple-leaf shaped mold, a blob of filling is squeezed into the middle, and the mechanical arm folds the mold over to close it up. The momiji manjū cooks until golden brown, and then A conveyor belt rolls it out, and seals it up in a little package. Wonderful!

We bought the pack as a gift, for a host family we were meeting the next day, to say thank you for hosting us. The box was wrapped up in a little furoshiki wrapping cloth, wrapped and tied, as is often customary for gifts.

We arrived in Beppu, a hot spring city in Japan’s southern island. We handed our host family the gift, and it quickly joined glasses of sake, beers, and chocolates on the table for everyone to enjoy!

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