- A workshop experience of a traditional Okinawan craft technique called Tsuikin - Ryukyu lacquerware.
- Bingata x Leather / Collaboration of Traditional Crafts and Leatherwork [Rakusyou] (Naha City)
A Long-Established Manju Specialty Shop Said to Be Founded 160 Years Ago. How About a Stop at Yamagusuku Manju in Shuri for a Simple Yet Delicious Manju?
post : 2019.02.27 01:00
A long-established Manju (steamed buns) shop located in Shuri, Naha City, is Yamagusuku Manju. As the famous Manju shop in Shuri, Yamagusuku Manju continues to carry on the traditional taste and continues to be cherished as a snack for the locals for many, many years. Their history is long and deep-rooted, and is said that the shop was perhaps founded as far back as 160 years ago. The accurate year of their establishment is unknown, as all their records were burned and lost in World War II.
Inside the shop is a large pot and rising from here is the delightful scent of Gettoh (shell ginger or pink porcelain lilies), distinctive of Yamagusuku Manju. Hidefumi Yamashiro is the sixth generation master of the shop and says he carefully maintains the large pot that his grandmother, the fourth generation proprietor of the shop, was using and one that he still uses today. Used together with this large pot is his other favorite tool for the job; a bamboo basket called Hirashama that was specially made by a skilled craftsman in Henoko.
Yamagusuku Manju is 140 yen each, and is a simple, but special treat. The skin is made only with flour and water, wrapping the filling which is made with Adzuki (red) beans, sugar, and syrup, then flattened and steamed on top of the Gettoh leaves. The Gettoh leaves that give the Yamagusuku Manju its distinctive scent are grown in their farm and about 300 to 400 leaves are harvested twice a week. All of the ingredients are organic and completely additive-free, creating a Manju that is simple with the right amount of sweetness. This is why some gentlemen customers, who usually don’t have sweet-tooth are big fans, and in fact, they have more male customers than ladies. About 70 percent of their customers are local, repeat customers, and the remaining 30 percent are those from out of town who come by to pick up the famous Yamagusuku Manju to take back home with them after a day of strolling around Shuri. Some visitors to Shuri also enjoy a nice break from their sightseeing and enjoy the Manju in the shop. Yamagusuku Manju continues to be a part of Shuri’s history and together with this historical town, the shop continues to carry on the traditions.
“More than anything, I just want to continue to protect our traditional taste that has remained unchanged for 160 years, since our establishment,” says the owner, Hidefumi Yamashiro, sharing his devotion and commitment to his business.
“Because they contain no preservatives, their shelf life is short and may not be suitable as souvenirs. We don’t make huge batches but instead, we make them as the day goes, seeing how much we’re selling that day. They’re the best when they’re fresh out of the steamer,” says Yamashiro-san. The probability of getting your hands on a fresh batch of these delicious Manju is best at 10:30, when the shop opens for the day. There’s no guarantee, though, as proof of their strong local following, some regular customers from the community come by and buy up everything they have. I recommend you call them before you go so that they can keep some aside for you to enjoy a fresh batch of Yamagusuku Manju. With its long history, the perfect sweetness and simple tastes of the wonderful Manju from a shop founded 120 years ago, are sure to be a memorable experience for visitors, too.
Address: 1-51 Mawashi-cho, Shuri, Naha City, Okinawa
Hours: 10:30-16:00 (or when sold out)
Closed: Sundays and Thursdays
*Prices current as of December 2018.
Okinawa CLIP photo writer, Yu Murakami