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Samurai Theologian in Tokyo – Anpan

Daniel here. Reporting for

In the dialog and explanation for Beginner Lesson Season 2 #10 – Morning Coffee, they discussed あんパン (anpan), which was described as a bun filled with sweet bean paste. Also, they discussed 木村屋 (Kimuraya), the bakery in Ginza, Tokyo, that is most famous for it. So, I headed down to Ginza to get a closer look. But, first, a look at the origin of anpan.

Yasubei Kimura was a samurai in latter part of the 19th Century who, like many others, lost his job during the Meiji Era. He took on the role of baker and moved his business to Ginza. He was unsatisfied with taste of the bread at the time, and came up with anpan as a bread that was more to the liking of the Japanese palate. He knew he made it big when one of his customers introduced his delicacy to the Emperor and the Emperor requested to have it brought to him daily. The word got out. And as we say, the rest is history.

The easiest way to access the store is to ride the subway (either the Ginza line or the Marunouchi Line) and get off at the A9 exit, which comes out right in front of the store (and only a block away from the Apple Store!). Ginza is the famous shopping district in downtown Tokyo, and is one of the few places in crowded Tokyo with wide sidewalks.

There were many people walking by in both directions shopping at the expensive boutiques and stores. Kimuraya has a glass front, and there is an accompanying restaurant occupying the immediate floors above the store, with the actual bakery above the restaurant.

There are many baked goods sold at Kimuraya, but anpan is their signature product. So, as you enter the store, the anpan is on display near the door and can be bought directly from the sales people who bag your choice of anpan and other types of buns (I noticed cheese buns, sesame buns, chestnut buns and jam buns in addition to four types of anpan). For the sake of our investigation , I picked up the original style anpan, the signature style anpan (anpan with a small pickled piece of sakura), and shiro-anpan (the white bean paste mentioned in the podcast).

After performing a very scientific test at the labs, the consensus was that the shiro-anpan was the best. However, I found all three varieties to be excellent.

If you would like to download the enhanced version (podcast file with photos, urls and/or chapter marks) of this audio, visit my Samurai Theologian Podcast page. Consider subscribing to receive future enhanced podcasts. You can also these photos in an online slide show from my site.