Shinise (XV): Fujito Manju
Nestled in the scenic western part of Okayama Prefecture lies Kurashiki City. This captivating destination, formed through the fusion of three former cities, boasts a rich tapestry of history, picturesque landscapes, and mouthwatering local cuisine that will leave you yearning for more.
Step into the Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter, a fairy-tale-like neighborhood adorned with enchanting white-walled streets alongside the tranquil Kurashiki River. As you wander through its narrow alleys, you'll be transported back in time to a bygone era, surrounded by beautifully preserved traditional architecture and charming shops offering unique treasures. Don't miss the renowned Ohara Museum of Art, where masterpieces from around the world reside, or Kurashiki Ivy Square, an architectural wonder nestled within lush greenery.
But Kurashiki's allure doesn't end there. Prepare to be captivated by the region's natural beauty, as breathtaking panoramic views await atop Washuzan Hill (Mt. Washu). Marvel at the awe-inspiring Seto Inland Sea as it stretches out before you, creating a backdrop of pure serenity.
When it comes to delectable cuisine, Kurashiki knows how to satisfy your taste buds. Indulge in authentic local dishes such as Bukkake Udon, where flavorful noodles are lavishly topped with savory sauce, or sample the tantalizingly thick wheat noodles known as Shin Udon. And make sure you savor the famous Kurashiki Burger, a mouthwatering creation that combines juicy flavors with a touch of local flair.
As you explore Kurashiki, let your sweet tooth lead you to delightful confections that reflect the region's cultural heritage. Try the Fujito Manju, tender sweet bean buns that will melt in your mouth, or delight in the whimsical Murasuzume cookies shaped like charming sparrows. These treats are not only a feast for your taste buds but also a window into the centuries-old confectionery tradition of Kurashiki.
Fujito Manju——Found in 1184
Fujito Manju, situated just a 1-minute walk from the southern entrance of Tengai Junior High School and High School, or approximately a 25-minute drive from Kurashiki Station, holds a rich historical legacy that dates back to the Genpei War. In 1184 (the 3rd year of the Juei era), during a decisive battle at the historic Fujito Crossing, Minamoto no Sasaaki Moritsuna achieved victory with the assistance of local villagers. As part of their strategy, they had to sever ties with the villagers, which led to the creation of manju, a steamed bun, as a way to honor their spirits. This tradition evolved into the renowned Fujito Manju we know today.
Since the Edo period, Fujito Manju has been sold at the tea shop within the premises of Fujito Temple. In 1860 (the 1st year of the Man'en period), it was relocated to its current location and continues to thrive. The original Fujito Manju main store stands as a venerable establishment, boasting a history of over 100 years. Its charming and nostalgic appearance warmly welcomes visitors, offering a glimpse into the past. This establishment has also been featured as a filming location in the movie "Always: Sunset on Third Street."
The most beloved product in the store is Fujito Manju. This treasured delicacy, deeply rooted in history, continues to receive the loyal support of many customers as a renowned confectionery of Kurashiki. With a commitment to quality, only the finest ingredients are used, without any food additives or preservatives, allowing the natural flavors to shine through. The delicate outer layer is crafted from wheat flour and the sweet sake lees extracted daily using locally sourced koji. The smooth red bean paste filling is made from premium azuki beans from Hokkaido.
I have to say, I truly enjoy Fujito Manju. The soft and pillowy outer layer is expertly steamed to achieve the perfect balance between lightness and density. When I take a bite, the red bean paste inside offers a smooth and velvety texture that gently melts in my mouth. The filling is crafted with precision, creating just the right consistency, allowing it to seamlessly blend with the delicate dough. Each bite reveals a flawless harmony of sweetness. The subtle undertones of sweet sake gracefully complement the richness of the filling, resulting in a taste experience that is both harmonious and unforgettable. This combination of textures and flavors leaves me with a satisfying and lingering sense of enjoyment.
Address: 919-3 Kushida, Kurashiki City, Okayama Prefecture
photo from: http://fujito-manjyu.co.jp/ 藤戸まんぢゅう8/16/2023