Huge sweet celebrates the slaying of a sake-loving demon.

Artists, writers and craftsmen have long been inspired by Japanese legends, and down in the town of Oe in Kyoto Prefecture, a local legend has given birth to a giant sweet.

Known as Oni Manju (“Demon Steamed Bun”), these are far heavier than your regular manju, which we recently discovered after purchasing one of them, which came in its very own box.

▼ At 756 yen (US$5.34) each, they’re also more expensive.

These are well worth the extra money, though, because unlike other manju, these are based on the legend of Shuten Doji, a demon that was said to have resided in the area. This sake-loving demon terrorised the locals, eating them in his lair on Mt Oe and stealing their gold until he was eventually slain by Raiko, a legendary warrior who also goes by the name Minamoto no Yorimitsu.

▼ The story of the ogre is explained in a booklet included with the manju.

Given the giant size of the sweet, it’s often mistaken as something an ogre might want to eat, but it’s actually designed to look like the koshikakeishi (“sitting rock”), which Raiko sat on after defeating the demon.

To give you an idea of just how big this manju is, it’s bigger than the size of a fist, measuring nine centimetres (3.5 inches) in height and width…

▼…and weighing in at a whopping 479 grams (16.9 ounces).

Our weigh-in was one gram away from the 480 grams reported on the back of the packaging, but we didn’t mind because now we were curious to find out what lay inside the manju.

▼ Taking a knife to the sweet, we recreated the legend by slaying the demon.

Like something out of a magical movie, the demon opened up to reveal its insides were made of sweet red bean paste. The amount was totally out of proportion to the casing, which made for a jaw-dropping sight, but it turned out to be a fantastic combination, because the bean paste was absolutely delicious.

This was way too much manju for one person, so we were glad to be sharing it with several people, one of whom said it was the best-tasting bean paste they’d had in a long time.

It was a fun way to get a taste of a Japanese legend, and a great way to keep the myth alive in modern times. Regional tales like this are part of the tapestry that lies at the heart and soul of the country, so we always love an opportunity to learn more about them, especially when they taste this sweet!

Store Information

Shinji Seikaho / 新治製菓舗
Address:Kyoto-fu, Fukuchiyama-shi, Oe-cho Tatehara 374-1
Open: 8:00 a.m.-6:30 p.m.

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