Hiroshima #2 – Rice Scoop with Carp Mascot (しゃもじ withカープ坊や)

WOW, long time no post! Sorry for seemingly abandoning the site… after coming back from my trip to Europe, I was both extremely busy with work, and waiting impatiently for the 8th set of postcards to come out. Work is still busy, the new cards still aren’t out, and here I’ve gone half a month without posting anything. So I’ll be doing a post a day for awhile to show I’m not dead! Here to begin is Hiroshima’s second postcard, combining rice scoops (shamoji) made in the area with the Hiroshima Toyo Carp Baseball Team’s mascot, Carp Boy.

Shamoji are said to have been developed by a monk living on Itsukushima, better known as the famous Miyajima near Hiroshima City. Now, these rice scoops are a household item throughout Japan, often of plastic these days, but also sometimes the more traditional wood. I guess just the rice paddle was too plain of a card, so a picture of carp boy was added. Hiroshima’s baseball team is… well, they’re not that good (sorry, Hiroshima). Mostly the reason is that they are actually the only team that’s not majority owned by a company, so the team is always short of money!

Anyway, when I visited Miyajima, I could see the giant rice paddle commemorating the humble beginnings of the shamoji:

Here we go… wow its big!

Without the postcard

You can take home one of these smaller ones. It’ll fit in your luggage better, for sure!

I probably should have bought one, but I don’t actually have a rice cooker so…

Hiroshima #6: Momiji Manju (もみじ饅頭)

This week’s post is on one of Hiroshima’s famous foods, momiji manju! Momiji is the Japanese word for maple leaves, and is Hiroshima’s Prefectural “flower”. Manju is the general word for a sweet that is a castella-like outside with a cream or paste on the inside. The most popular type of filling for manju is usually koshian style anko, or red bean paste mashed through a sieve so the paste is a smooth consistency.

On arrival to Miyajima and checking into our traditional Japanese inn, we received several momiji manju along with green tea. I have to say… well, they aren’t my favorite (laughs). A lot of famous Japanese sweets I think actually aren’t that good, but they’re famous so everyone buys them.

Luckily, I found a way I DO like them… deep fried! Aww yeah, my Southern’s showing! Hot from the frying oil is definitely the way to enjoy these sweets!

Postcard with our ryokan’s gift

This way is DEFINITELY better!

About to enjoy a hot treat!

You can enjoy momiji manju anywhere in Hiroshima; indeed, even my local grocery store here in Gunma sells “Hiroshima-style manju”. The fried kind, however, might just be a local Miyajima specialty. If you land on Miyajima, just follow your nose – and the crowds – to the fried manju stand. There are multiple places to buy the regular kind as well, and try all the different fillings. Take your pick and find your favorite!

(You can see a youtube video on how the manju are made here.)