Rikyu manju (利休饅頭)

Rikyu manju (利休饅頭) is a Japanese cake served with tea, which was named after chasei (great tea master) SEN no Rikyu. Generally, it is a relatively small-sized steamed cake, and an (bean paste) is put inside a wrapping of dough with muscovado suger taste. It is a standard cake served with tea.

However, while the name of Rikyu manju ("利久饅頭" is also used) is commonly used, there are varieties of Rikyu manju depending on regions. Its unit price also ranges from 25 yen to 120 yen. The difference in price might reflect the difference in size. Rikyu manju of Ube City, Yamaguchi Prefecture, Ise City, Mie Prefecture and Hamada City, Shimane Prefecture is a cake of a well-known brand.

Rikyu manju at various places
Ube City, Yamaguchi Prefecture
Golden-colored manju was served at the tea ceremony held by SEN no Rikyu. It is said that Rikyu liked this manju very much, and since then this manju was always served at the tea ceremonies held by Rikyu. For this reason, this manju came to be called "Rikyu manju".

It is a bite-sized and golden-colored steamed manju. Its price is reasonable and about 1,000 yen (exclusive of tax) (40 pieces). There are two types, koshian (strained bean paste) and shiroan (white bean paste). Products of Mitafugetsuan called "Rikyu manju" and those of Fukiagedo called "Rikyu san" are popular, though they differ in package, color, name (Rikyu san and Rikyu manju) and bean paste. Normally, both of them are collectively called "Rikyu manju" by local residents.

The characteristic of Fukiagedo's "Rikyu san" is its pattern of tatami mesh, and there are two types; shiroan and kuroan (black bean paste). Fukiagedo also provides a product called "Kenjo Rikyu", whose size is half the ordinary "Rikyu san". This product was produced for the first time in July 2005 when the present Empress Michiko visited Yamaguchi Prefecture. There are three types of products, namely kuroan, shiroan and yuzu (citron flavor bean paste), and this product is only produced by order. It is said that this product does not keep for long.

Shop name/product name

Fukiagedo: Rikyu san

Mitafugetsuan: Rikyu manju

Fugetsudo: Rikyu manju

Ogawa Mitsukasu Honpo: Rikyu manju

Kashinoki: Rikyu manju

Fukiagedo's Rikyu san and Mitafugetsuan's Rikyu manju are famous in particular. Historically, Mitafugetsuan is a long-established store with a longer history than Fukiagedo.

Ise City, Mie Prefecture
At the beginning of the Meiji era, tea masters in Ise Province held a tea ceremony exhibition at Ise-jingu Shrine inviting the sojo (headmaster) of the Sen family. At that time, Gozaemon FUJINAMI, the founder of Fujiya Sogetsudo, prepared sojo's favorite manju and provided it for the tea ceremony. The sojo was impressed by its refined taste and named it "Rikyu manju".

There are three types of products, namely red products, white products and maccha products (the ones with powdered green tea added), and azuki bean koshian is used for red products while pinto bean koshian is used for white products. In case of maccha products, red tea is added to the wrapping of dough and the same bean paste with red products is used. Maccha products are on sale only during the period of higan (equinox) and obon festivals (available in other periods than the higan and obon festivals by ordering a certain quantity of products). Though only white products were produced originally, products which had light-red wrapping of dough and used azuki bean koshian were developed later for the purpose of the gifts of auspicious events. Local residents sometimes use assortments of this manju for hikidemono (a kind of gift from the host to guests at a party or a ceremony). It is an excellent cake representing Mie Prefecture and is famous for its refined sweetness. Its origin and characteristics are quite different from other ordinary Rikyu manju. Green products for mourning are also available (because of this, Rikyu manju is sometimes dubbed soshiki manju (funeral manju) by local residents).

It was offered to the Emperor Showa in November 1951 when he visited Mie Prefecture. It was offered in November 1990 when the Emperor worshipped jingu after the enthronement ceremony.

Shop name/product name

Fujiya Sogetsudo : Rikyu manju

It is the birthplace of the former chief cabinet secretary Takao FUJINAMI, who is known for his involvement in Recruit Scandal. For this reason, this manju is often called Recruit manju by local residents.

Hamada City/Ota City, Shimane Prefecture
It was inherited from SEN no RIKYU (chasei) => Shigenari FURUTA (master of tea ceremony) => Shigeharu FURUTA (Shigeharu is a nephew of Shigenari), the first lord of Hamada-jo castle => Jiemon, the founder of Nakaya. Jiemon created manju that could be preserved for a long time.

When manju becomes stiff, it can be eaten deliciously by baking or batter-frying.

Shop name/product name

Nakaya (Ota City) : Rikyu manju

Nakayaroho : Rikyu manju

Kyoto Prefecture
It is said that the product was named after Amami-oshima island, which used to be the production center of kokuto (unrefined sugar). It uses koshian, and its brand is either a maple leaf or a gingko leaf.

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Hatanokenroho : Oshima manju

Kure City, Hiroshima Prefecture
It is popular as a gift.

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Atami City, Shizuoka Prefecture
Azuki beans produced in Hokkaido and kokuto produced in Okinawa Hateruma-jima island are used.

Shop name/product name

Atamiya : Rikyu manju

Rikyu : Rikyu manju

Its bean paste is produced by boiling the dainagon beans produced in Bicchu Province, and the kokuto produced in Okinawa Hateruma-jima island is used for the wrapping of dough.

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Rikyu manju

Numazu City, Shizuoka Prefecture
Shop name/product name

Okashidokoro Yamamoto: Rikyu manju

Nasu-onsen, Tochigi Prefecture
It looks like goma-dango (rice dumpling with sesame), and it is warm. It is brought together with tea.

Shop name
Nasu-onsen Sanraku (Japanese-style inn)

Sakata City, Yamagata Prefecture
Thick koshian is put in the moist wrapping of dough.

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Sakataya : Rikyu manju

Koshian is put in the thin wrapping of dough. Barley flour (which is rich in dietary fiber) and raw sugar (which is rich in minerals) are used for the wrapping of dough.

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Hakodate City, Hokkaido
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Nakatsu, Kita Ward (Osaka City), Osaka City
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Amakusa City, Kumamoto Prefecture
Plain sweetness of kokuto.

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Paris in France
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Toraya Paris

Sanur in Bali, Indonesia
Shop name

Gekkou Cafebar

It is a café in Bali island which serves Japanese cakes. Rikyu manju is also served.

Rikyu manju appearing in Rakugo (traditional comic storytelling)
"Rikyu manju" appears as a very unpalatable manju in "Chanoyu", one of Enso Gohyaku Banashi (500 rakugo-stories of Enso) of rakugo storyteller Sanyutei Enso.

A retired person who lived in Negishi (Taito Ward) used to invite neighbors to tea ceremonies. As the tea served by him was very bad and undrinkable, guests came with the aim of eating delicious cakes. Before long, the retired person realized that the payment to a cake shop was not negligible and started to produce cakes by himself. However, they were very unpalatable since they were manju-like cakes made from sweet potato. The retired person gave a smart name of "Rikyu manju" to the manju-like cakes. He served the bad tea and "Rikyu manju" to the first guest he invited after that. The guest ate Rikyu manju because the tea tasted bad. However, it was also so unpalatable that he pretended to go to the restroom and threw the manju-like cake out. The manju hit the face of a farmer who was working in the field, and the farmer murmured, while cleaning up his face, "He is holding chanoyu (a tea ceremony) again". Sanyutei Kinba (the fourth) also used "Chanoyu" as one of his programs, but the details are different.

Rikyu manju is sometimes served as onmono (hot dish) at Japanese inns or selected by cooking schools as a theme for learning how to make Japanese cakes. Low-calorie Rikyu manju which even people with diabetes can eat is also on sale. The unusual way of eating Rikyu manju is to eat it after dipping in a flour-and-water batter and frying.

[Original Japanese]