Apr 20, 2019
The prefecture of Kagoshima was never on my radar. I didn't know much about it besides its vague location in Kyushu. So, when I got an omiyage from one of my adult students, I was grateful and confused as to what it was.
The snow white packaging looked very elegant, but the frosted design made it difficult to peer inside. It was some kind of manju, I could tell from feeling it squish... Karukan manju, from the packaging, though I had no idea what that was at the time.
The outside was so different from a standard manju. You can see how porous it is, almost like a sponge.
Looking it up, karukan manju is a Kagoshima specialty (made in a few other prefectures too) from rice flour, sugar, and grated Japanese yam. Those ingredients mixed together with water are then steamed, which is what gives it its unique texture.
The texture was as soft as it looked and felt. It was also a bit sticky, but not as much as regular mochi would be. I couldn't taste the yams that went into it at all. The filling was a regular adzuki red bean paste. It was definitely an interesting twist on a confection that I eat pretty regularly!
The great thing about omiyage is that you can experience a part of the culture of a different place without visiting yourself. This gave me a small taste of what Kagoshima has to offer, and made me a lot more curious about the area. I looked up what made karukan manju so unique, and found out more about Kagoshima in the process!
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