Anpan is type of bun unique to Japan, invented to meet the tastes of Japanese during the Meiji Period with such variations of bean pastes as tsubuan (sweet bean paste containing pieces of azuki bean skin), koshian (smooth bean paste), and in rare cases, shiroan (white bean paste) and uguisuan (uguisu-greenbean paste). It is often cited as a concrete sample that a variety of things from foreign cultures introduced to Japan are tailored to meet the needs of Japanese. The most typical shape of anpan is round and flat like a disc. It also contains sweet pastes made of ingredients other than beans such as those used in imo anpan (sweet potato paste bun) and kuri anpan (chestnut paste bun), or made from seasonal ingredients using sakura-an (cherry blossom flavored bean paste) and uguisu-an (uguisu-green bean paste). The grain that is sprinkled on anpan is often mistaken as sesame seeds, when in fact they are poppy seeds (they are lightly roasted to keep them from sprouting).
Agepan (deep fried bread) contains anpan, and sometimes 'an" is placed between two slices of toasted bread and deep fried.
Anpan was originally created by Yasubei KIMURA, the founder of Kimuraya (known today as Kimuraya-sohonten (Japan's first bakery) and a former samurai from Ibaragi Prefecture, and with his second son named Eizaburo KIMURA, they put anpan on the market at their bakery in Ginza in 1874 where it was well received. It was presented to the Meiji Emperor the next year through Tesshu YAMAOKA. This news was spread through newspapers and word of mouth, resulting in the brand names of both Kimuraya bakery and its anpan being highly recognized all over the country. The presentation of anpan to the Meiji Emperor was on April 4th, which led to the day being called Anpan no hi (Anpan day).
The original anpan of the Kimuraya bakery was made by using sakadane (shubo [yeast mash] cultured in a mixture of koji [rice malt] and yeast), including sake yeast for making manju (a confection made by wrapping a core of sweetened red bean paste in a skin of wheat-flour dough and steaming it), and putting a salt-pickled cherry blossom on the small dent in the center of the anpan so it would have two characters: a kind of bread and a kind of Japanese sweet.
Variations of anpan
Due to the success story of Kimuraya's anpan, Tsukisamu anpan began being produced in Tsukisamu, Toyohira Ward, Sapporo City, Hokkaido during the late Meiji Period; however, since there was no information on the recipe of the real anpan, it ended up being produced with the size and texture of geppei (a Chinese baked cake containing ingredients like red bean paste, nuts, and dried fruits and then wrapped with white flour dough) rather than the original anpan.
Tsukisamu anpan became so popular with the soldiers of the army at the time, becoming their energy source after hard work, that the road they constructed was named 'Anpan Road.'
It is now sold at HONMA., Ltd in Tsukisamu.
Kawaguchi anpan from Itayanagi-machi, Kitatsugaru-gun, Aomori Prefecture is a manju-like Japanese sweet wrapping of shiroan with castella-like sponge cake made from wheat flour. Originated during the early Meiji Period, Kawaguchi anpan was a confectionary baked in an oven; it was made employing traditional baking techniques due to the lack of information about the original anpan, similar to Tsukisamu anpan.
There is also dagashi (cheap sweets) called kumatapan from Sukagawa City, Fukushima Prefecture. Kumatapan is a baked confectionary made by wrapping a core of bean paste in a skin of dough mixed with wheat flour and unrefined sugar, baking it in an oven and sprinkling it with white sugar.
Types of 'an'
Pastes made from red beans
Pastes made from white beans
Pastes made from green beans
Pastes made from other ingredients
April 4, 1875
Anpan of the Kimuraya bakery was presented to the Meiji Emperor.