Do Japan’s Sushi Manju sweets look as good as the packaging on the box? – SoraNews24 -Japan News-

Unusual case of false advertising surprises everyone in the office.

Two of the most beloved foods in Japan are sushi and manju (steamed buns), but you’ll be hard pressed to see them combined together as one dish, given that the former is considered a savoury meal and the latter is thought of as a sweet dessert.

So when our reporter Mr Sato came across a product called Sushi Manju at the Kitte Marunouchi shopping complex near Tokyo Station, he immediately did a double-take, wondering what the product might look and taste like. As his mind struggled to comprehend the combination of such disparate ends of the culinary spectrum, he reached into his pocket and handed over 648 yen (US$4.36) to purchase the product and take it back to the office for a taste test.

▼ Mr Sato purchased the Sushi Manju at the Lawson convenience store at Kitte Marunouchi.

In Japan, manju is a popular traditional confectionery with a bun-like texture on the outside, made from flour, rice powder and buckwheat, and a sweet filling like red bean paste on the inside. 

▼ So what the heck is Sushi Manju?

The packaging on the box looked like regular sushi, but Mr Sato wasn’t quite sure whether this was an accurate representation of what lay inside, especially as the tiny print on the bottom left corner had the disclaimer that this was “an image”.

The back of the pack didn’t give away any real clues, either, with nothing but a blurb discussing “The Birth of Nigiri Sushi” (“nigiri” refers to hand-moulded sushi like the type shown on the pack).

“Sushi began to be eaten as nigiri sushi during the Edo period. Because seafood caught in “Edo-no-mae” (Tokyo Bay) was used, it was called “Edomae Sushi”. At that time, food stalls were all the rage in Edo, and Nigiri Sushi was sold from the food stalls. The short-tempered Edo people were known for making sushi in the blink of an eye. Currently, the kanji “寿” (“kotobuki”) commonly used in “寿司” (“sushi”) is considered to bring good luck and it has become a representative Japanese food.”

Mr Sato had heard the common theory that people from Edo (now known as Tokyo) were thought to be short-tempered in the past, with some saying it was due to the lack of calcium in the groundwater, so it was interesting to find this temperament  influenced the way they made sushi.

He still had no idea if that had anything to do with Sushi Manju, though, so he decided to enlist a bit of help from his colleagues, enticing them away from their work with the temptation of free food.

Mr Sato held the box of Sushi Manju before him, saying: “I bought you guys a souvenir from Tokyo Station.”

Reporter Masanuki Sunakoma is relatively new to the office compared to colleague Go Hatori, who knows to think twice about accepting gifts from Mr Sato, so he bowed and smiled in delight at the thoughtful gesture, saying, “Wow! Even though you live in Tokyo, you still buy souvenirs at Tokyo Station.”

As soon as Masanuki’s hands touched the box, Mr Sato pulled it away. “Hey! Stop giving me heartless compliments!” he said. “You probably think you can eat for free, right? But I’m not a souvenir guy.”

▼ “Huh? You’re not a souvenir guy?!?”

Mr Sato flashed a cheeky grin at his colleagues, who now knew he was up to mischief, telling them, “Look at it! Aren’t you curious about what’s inside? Can you imagine what kind of steamed buns sushi manju are? You don’t know, right? So…guess what’s inside!

It was now quiz time, and Go and Masanuki understood they would have to work for their buns, putting down their ideas of what they thought Sushi Manju might be on paper.

A closer look at Go’s idea revealed he believed “the sushi topping is printed on the steamed bun” (“ネタがプリントしてある”).

As it turns out, Mr Sato had also jotted down his own idea and it matched Go’s perfectly, filling him with delight at their unified style of thinking.

Mr Sato’s sketch, however, was considerably plainer, drawn simply with a ballpoint pen and arrows indicating the manju (“まんじゅう”) and printed sushi topping (“スシネタをプリント”).

Masanuki, on the other hand, had higher hopes for the Sushi Manju, revealing his idea that it would be “けっこう忠実” or “pretty faithful” to actual sushi.

When Go and Mr Sato praised Masanuki for his drawing skills, he told them he used a photo from the Internet for reference.

With the three of them having made their predictions, it was now time to open the box and find out what really lay inside.

▼ Are you ready for the grand reveal?

▼ Ta daaaaa!

In the end, the Sushi Manju looked nothing like the packaging, instead being small bite-sized buns with sushi-related imagery printed on them.

▼ Mr Sato cheered, “Go and I were correct!” as he presented the box to the camera in delight.

However, his smile soon wavered as he inspected the contents to find it wasn’t just sushi toppings printed on the buns, but non-edible items like the green plastic separators, known as “baran” in Japanese.

Mr Sato worries that if foreign tourists see the baran on the bun like a sushi topping, they might mistake it for an edible topping when they come across it in a real box of sushi.

We’re pretty sure most foreign visitors to Japan will be familiar with baran and the fact that it’s non-edible, but Mr Sato is always looking out for our foreign readers so we appreciate his concern.

Always the discerning customer, Mr Sato says the Sushi Manju might’ve been more impressive if they only contained images of familiar sushi toppings, so you could feel like you’re eating Nigiri Sushi every time, but as a Tokyo souvenir he’s not complaining. They looked cute and tasted great, so until they make manju that really looks like sushi, he’s happy to munch on these buns with his workmates.

Store information
Lawson KITTE Marunouchi store / ローソンKITTE丸の内店
Address: Tokyo-to, Chiyoda-ku, Marunouchi 2-7-2  JP Tower B1
東京都千代田区丸の内2-7-2 JPタワー地下1
Open: 7:00 a.m.-11:00 p.m.

Related: Lawson , Otori Sangyo, Comedy Manga Dojo
Photos ©SoraNews24
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