Now Reports

Fukuoka’s Special Sweets


Fukuoka is home to many famous Japanese sweets. During the Edo era, Nagasaki was the only port from which the invaluable commodity of sugar entered Japan. Since the Kuroda Clan of Fukuoka was in charge of protecting Nagasaki, it was granted special permission to purchase sugar directly from the merchants. The popular sweets of this bygone era have undergone a few changes, but the people of today still know and love them. Let us introduce you to some of the best-known brands; and all available at Maing.


Saemon: Hakata Burabura
The basic building blocks of traditional Japanese sweets are an (bean paste) and mochi (glutinous rice). A simple combination of these two ingredients, the Hakata Burabura is the archetype of Japanese sweets. But as simple as it may be, the secret of this confectionery’s long-standing success lies in the dedication to maintaining a consistent flavor. The whimsical package design features a kasahoko (lit., “umbrella pole”), a kind of hand-held float that was used in the Hakata Matsubayashi, the precursor to the Hakata Dontaku. According to lore, those who walk under the kasahoko will achieve perfect health. Hakata Burabura were first produced in 1974 to commemorate the extension of the Shinkansen bullet train to Hakata Station in 1975. They are made by Saemon, a traditional sweets maker that’s been in business since 1929.


Ishimura Manseido: Kenjo Tsuru no Ko
Tsuru no Ko are egg-shaped white sweets with a marshmallow outside and a center made from yellow an. In fact, you might mistake them for real eggs at first glance! These sweets, which have been in production for over 100 years, were first made as a means to use up the egg whites left over from other sweets. Kenjo Tsuru no Ko are the highest quality products in the Tsuru no Ko lineup. Since the Meiji era, they have been presented to the Imperial Family as exemplars of Hakata sweets, and the production method remains unchanged to this day. Each sweet is handmade by veteran confectioners using only the finest of ingredients. Founded in 1905, Ishimura Manseido is a long-standing confectioner that offers a wide variety of both Japanese and Western sweets.


Hiyoko Hompo Yoshinodo: Hiyoko
One glance at the cute chick-shaped Hiyoko sweets is sure to make you smile. Popular with people of all ages, these sweets from Fukuoka are now known and loved nationwide. The second generation owner of the shop, which was established in 1897, is said to have come up with Hiyoko after seeing a chick in a dream. After some trial and error, the Hiyoko as we know it was “hatched” in 1912. In an era when sweets were typically either round or square, the realistic, chick-shaped Hiyoko turned the industry on its head. The inside is made from egg yolks and string bean an, while the outside uses a special flour ground and milled right here in Kyushu.


Josuian: Tsukushimochi
This mildly sweet mix of kinako (soy bean flour) and brown sugar syrup comes in a package that looks like it has been wrapped in a tiny furoshiki (traditional wrapping cloth). Since it was first created in 1977, Tsukushimochi has remained popular for its elegant presentation and refined flavor. The mochi is made from carefully selected rice and water, and the kinako flour is made from the rare Tamahomare soy bean. The brown sugar syrup is packaged separately, so you can add as little or as much as you wish. The president of Josuian, Kojiro Mori, says the sweet is based on his grandmother’s homemade kinako-mochi. In the 1830s, the precursor to Josuian, which was also run by the Mori family, used to make sweets for temples and shrines. The current company was renamed Josuian, borrowing its name from another name used by Fukuoka’s founding father, Kanbei Kuroda.


Chidoriya Honke: Chidori Manju
Simple yet delicious, the Chidori Manju is the trademark sweet of Chidoriya Honke. Consisting of a sweet paste of white string beans wrapped in a baked crust, you’ll find it tough to stop at just one! Founded in 1630, Chidoriya was one of the first local confectioners that learned how to make Portuguese sweets like castella and bolo—the latter of which it tweaked to make an original round cookie, the maru-boro. The name Chidori Manju was taken from a classical Japanese poem about Sugawara no Michizane, a Heian-era scholar who was later deified as the god of learning at Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine. In Japan, chidori (in English, plover) have been considered lucky birds since olden times.


Toundo: Niwaka Senpei
These crunchy, habit-forming crackers are modeled after the comical masks used in the Hakata Niwaka, a style of traditional improv comedy performed at dinner parties or on the street. Niwaka Senpei first went on sale in 1906. They were conceived when the head of Hakata Station asked the president of Toundo if he could provide a “Hakata-esque” souvenir. The crackers are made from locally grown flour and fresh eggs, and the subtle yet delicious flavor harks back to a simpler time. Each package comes with a cardboard Niwaka mask, which is sure to evoke good memories of your time spent in Hakata.


Fugetsu: Yuki Usagi
The Yuki Usagi is a popular rabbit-shaped sweet consisting of white bean an wrapped in marshmallow. The red and white rabbit is a symbol of good luck taken from a folktale associated with Sofukuji Temple. According to the tale, a Buddhist monk who was studying in China rescued a rabbit and took it with him on the boat back to Japan. The boat encountered a violent storm, and when it was about to go under, the rabbit jumped into the ocean and calmed the storm, allowing the boat to continue safely to Japan. Fugetsu first opened as a cafe in Tenjin in 1949. It later expanded into the restaurant business, and began making and selling Western-style sweets and breads to accompany its cakes and other offerings. The now popular Yuki Usagi was born in 1965.


Royal Apetito: Sweet Potato
Royal was one of the first restaurants to successfully adopt Western culinary culture back when Western-style sweets and foods were still rare in the area. Its trademark Sweet Potato has been a best seller for more than 60 years. This delectable sweet makes the most of the natural sweetness of sweet potatoes, which are grown in Kagoshima, and the cream, butter and eggs are also made in Japan. What’s more, it contains no preservatives or artificial colors. Royal’s founder, who had ties to the occupying U.S. forces in the 1950s, was a pioneer in the restaurant industry. He expanded his business on the back of catering contracts with JAL for their domestic terminals and in-flight meals.


Browse one of Fukuoka’s largest collections of Japanese sweets.

Maing Hakata Ekinaka Shopping
1-1 Hakata-eki Chuogai, Hakata-ku, Fukuoka
Open: 9:00~21:00

Originally published in Fukuoka Now Magazine (fn211, Jul. 2016)

Published: Jun 17, 2016 / Last Updated: Jun 13, 2017

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