- Main lore areas
All over the prefecture
- Main ingredients used
- History/origin/related events
Gunma is an area of rich mountain ranges, so rich that 100 mountains have been selected as "Gunma Hyakumeizan" (Gunma's 100 Famous Mountains). The soil is often composed of volcanic ash and other volcanic eruptions, making it well drained and suitable for crop production. In addition, the long hours of sunlight in winter make it easy to grow wheat, which is used to make many local dishes. One of them is soda manju, which is made with wheat flour dough, filled with red bean paste, and steamed. Baking soda is added to the dough, giving it a sweet and slightly bitter taste. Unlike today, when a variety of delicious sweets are available, sweet foods were very scarce in the past. Under such circumstances, the sweet and tasty soda manju made with precious sugar was loved as a special treat. It is sometimes called "Fukashi manju" or "countryside manju.
- Opportunities and times of eating habits
Because it is made with rare sugar, it was served as a hospitality dish for seasonal events such as Jugoya (the night of the fifteenth day of the fifth month of the lunar calendar), or as a reward for the completion of farm work, and was treasured as a special dish. It was also sometimes considered an offering to ancestors. It is also eaten as "koju-han," a snack between days of farm work.
- How to eat
Soda manju is made from flour, baking soda, baking powder, and sugar to make a dough. Once the bean paste is wrapped in it and rolled up, it is then heated through in a steamer to complete the process. It is eaten throughout the prefecture, but is especially popular in Tatebayashi City and Takayama Village. Other unique types of manju are also made, such as "soba manju" in Ganraku Town and "nira manju" in Meiwa Town. In addition, manju is usually filled with red bean paste inside, but in some cases, side dishes such as takana and okara (bean curd) are added to make it look more like a side dish.
- Efforts for Preservation and Succession
In addition to being made at home, in recent years, manju has been sold as handmade manju by farmers at direct sales of agricultural products in the prefecture. Maebashi City also holds workshops on making soda manju using flour produced in the city. The city of Maebashi is working to raise awareness of the product.