A manju is a traditional Japanese sweet treat that has been enjoyed for centuries. With a soft, pillowy exterior and a sweet filling, manju comes in various flavors and styles, making it a versatile and beloved choice among dessert enthusiasts. In this article, we will delve into the delightful world of manju, exploring its history, ingredients, preparation methods, and popular varieties. Whether you are a seasoned manju connoisseur or a novice looking to expand your culinary horizons, this guide will provide you with a comprehensive understanding of this delectable Japanese delicacy.

The History of Manju

Manju has a rich history dating back to the Nara period (710-794) in Japan. It was originally introduced from China and was called “manjukun” or “manjudo” in Japanese. The word “manju” is believed to have originated from the Sanskrit word “manduja,” which means “a soft bun.” Over the centuries, manju has evolved in Japan, with different regions adding their own unique twists to the recipe. Today, manju is enjoyed across Japan and has even gained popularity in other parts of the world.


The key ingredients in manju include flour, sugar, sweet bean paste (anko), mochiko (glutinous rice flour), salt, and water. Depending on the recipe, additional ingredients such as matcha (green tea powder), chestnuts, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, and yuzu (citrus fruit) may be used to create different flavors and textures. Traditional manju is often filled with sweet red bean paste, but modern variations offer a wide range of fillings to cater to diverse tastes.

Preparation Methods

The preparation of manju involves several steps, including making the dough, shaping the dough, filling the dough, and steaming or baking the manju. To make the dough, flour, mochiko, sugar, salt, and water are mixed together to form a smooth, elastic dough. The dough is then divided into small portions, filled with anko or other fillings, and shaped into round or oval shapes. Finally, the manju is steamed or baked until the exterior is soft and slightly chewy, while the filling becomes warm and gooey.

Popular Varieties of Manju

  1. Nerikiri Manju: This delicate type of manju features a smooth and creamy outer layer made from white bean paste, sugar, and rice flour. The filling is often sweet bean paste or fruit jelly, creating a harmonious balance of textures and flavors.

  2. Yokan Manju: A fusion of two beloved Japanese sweets, this manju combines a chewy yokan (sweet bean jelly) exterior with a soft anko filling. The contrasting textures make it a favorite among those who enjoy a mix of chewiness and creaminess.

  3. Kurimanju: Originating from Kyoto, this variety of manju contains a sweet chestnut filling that adds a nutty and slightly crunchy texture to the soft dough. Kurimanju is often enjoyed during the autumn season when chestnuts are in season.

  4. Kibi Dango Manju: A regional specialty from Okayama prefecture, this manju features a matcha-flavored exterior filled with anko and mashed sweet potatoes. The addition of mashed sweet potatoes gives this manju a unique and earthy flavor.

  5. Momiji Manju: Hailing from Hiroshima, this maple leaf-shaped manju is a popular souvenir item that showcases a maple leaf design on the exterior. The filling typically consists of anko or custard cream, offering a delightful blend of sweetness and visual appeal.

How to Enjoy Manju

Maju can be enjoyed in a variety of ways, depending on personal preferences. Here are some suggestions for savoring this delicious Japanese treat:

  • Enjoy manju with a cup of green tea for a traditional Japanese snacking experience.
  • Warm up manju in the microwave for a few seconds to enhance the gooey texture of the filling.
  • Pair manju with a scoop of vanilla ice cream for a delightful contrast of temperatures and flavors.
  • Experiment with different manju fillings, such as chocolate, matcha, or citrus, to discover new taste combinations.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  1. What is the difference between manju and mochi?
    Manju is a steamed or baked treat with a soft exterior and a sweet filling, while mochi is a chewy rice cake made from mochiko (glutinous rice flour) that can be plain or filled with various ingredients.

  2. Can manju be stored for later consumption?
    Yes, manju can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for a few days, or in the refrigerator for up to a week. It can also be frozen for longer storage.

  3. Is manju gluten-free?
    Traditional manju recipes may contain gluten due to the use of regular flour. However, gluten-free versions can be made using alternative flours such as rice flour or gluten-free all-purpose flour.

  4. Are there savory varieties of manju?
    While manju is typically a sweet treat, there are savory versions available that feature fillings such as meat, seafood, or vegetables. These savory manju are often enjoyed as snacks or appetizers.

  5. Can manju be made without sugar?
    Yes, manju can be made with reduced or alternative sweeteners such as honey, maple syrup, or agave nectar for a healthier or less sweet option.


In conclusion, manju is a delightful Japanese sweet that offers a perfect balance of flavors and textures. Whether you prefer the classic sweet bean paste filling or want to explore innovative variations, there is a manju for every taste preference. By understanding the history, ingredients, preparation methods, and popular varieties of manju, you can embark on a culinary journey through the fascinating world of Japanese desserts. So, indulge in a piece of manju and experience the joy of this beloved treat that has stood the test of time.


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