Ishimura Manseido is a long-standing confectioner that was founded in Fukuoka in 1905. The main shop is located next to the finish line for the Oiyama float race, the climax of the Hakata Gion Yamakasa festival held early in the morning of July 15 every year.
Ishimura Manseido is known for its Tsuru no Ko sweets, which are a Hakata favorite, and as the birthplace of White Day. In addition to selling sweets, the main shop, which reopened after renovations on July 30, 2021, provides explanations of how its sweets have gone hand-in-hand with Hakata’s history, traditions and culture, and it has several items related to Hakata on display.
As a symbol of the new and improved Ishimura Manseido, you can see illustrations based on the drawings of the Zen monk Sengai, who was the abbot of Shofukuji Temple in Hakata (the first Zen temple in Japan) on the shop curtain and throughout the store.
The store’s interior functions like a gallery of Hakata sweets. It tells the story of how Tsuru no Ko was conceived not long after the company was founded, and the old wooden confectionery molds that have been used for decades are on display along with photos from the olden days. Many of Ishimura Manseido’s promotional items from past generations will make locals nostalgic for the good old days.
Tsuru no Ko are a perennial Hakata souvenir. Meanwhile, the deluxe version, Kenjo Tsuru no Ko, which have been presented as gifts to the Imperial Family and the Imperial Household, are larger than the regular Tsuru no Ko and are handmade by skilled confectioners. Another popular souvenir is the Shiomame Daifuku, which are made by kneading slightly sweetened bean paste and slightly salty red beans into rice cakes.
The “Ioute Sandwich” cookies, which are filled with savory caramel cream, are also popular souvenirs. Ioute is the ceremonial rhythmic hand clapping in Hakata, “san” is three, and “do” is times – so the naming is a wordplay for “sando,” which is Japanese for a sandwich.
Original Hakata Ohajiki discs made by Hakata doll artisans
Limited edition products from the Ishimura Manseido main shop
Tsuru no Ko no Ko ¥750
Made to order in the in-store workshop, this cold dessert features layers of vanilla ice cream, custard cream and marshmallows. Enjoy the fluffy yet firm texture that is only possible because it is made fresh. The subtle flavor is unique to Ishimura Manseido, which has been making marshmallows for its famous Tsuru no Ko for over 100 years.
Natsugumo Squash ¥580
This summer-only drink is a mixture of lemon squash made—peel and all—from lemons grown in Karatsu, Saga Prefecture and fluffy marshmallows which are meant to represent the big, billowy cumulonimbus clouds that are prevalent in summer. The fruity lemon squash is refreshing and mildly bitter and pairs perfectly with the ever so sweet marshmallows.
Limited edition products during the Hakata Gion Yamakasa festival
Gion Manju are sold as a good-luck confectionery for a limited time only when the Yamakasa festival is in session (July 1- July 15).
Hakata is the birthplace of manju cakes in Japan, and only three confectionery stores in Hakata are allowed to make Gion Manju, which contain sake lees. Ishimura Manseido’s Gion Manju are made with lees from Ishikura Shuzo, the only remaining sake brewery in Hakata. (The alcohol evaporates during the steaming process, so they are safe for children to eat).
Gion Manju (5 pcs) ¥750
Hakata Gion Yamakasa finish line and the Oiyama time measuring point
The sight of less than 30 men carrying one-ton Yamakasa floats on their shoulders as they run through the streets at dawn is so powerful and moving. You have to see it to believe it. During the Oiyama float race, the seven teams race out of Kushida Shrine, and their times are measured when the tips of the horizontal poles that hold the floats pass the finish line. The official times are measured from the second floor of the Ishimura Manseido main shop.
The renovated Ishimura Manseido reopened on July 30, 2021, so once again this year, it will serve as the time measuring station for the Yamakasa. As a local merchant, this is a source of pride for Ishimura Manseido, and it gives the company a sense of mission to continue doing business in Hakata, for Hakata. The time measuring station only opens in the early morning of July 15, and only the shrine personnel and chief priest of Kushida Shrine and measurement staff from Koda Watch Shop are allowed to access this sacred place. (This year’s Oiyama festival will be the first time the newly renovated measuring station at the head store will be used!)
Yamakasa Festival – Oiyama (July 15) hours: open from 4:00 a.m.