The Japanese sweets, called Wagashi come in many forms and sizes.
Often intricate works of art almost too beautiful to be eaten at all. They come in the shapes of flowers or leaves in bright colors.
When you see an Oni Manju, a type of Wagashi, for the first time you won’t have that problem though.
Oni Manju aren’t beautiful at all.
Little bright yellow blobs with sweet potato lumps sticking out of the surface. Oni Manju really aren’t much to look at, but that’s not what matters when it comes to sweets, am I right?
It’s how they taste like that’s important.
And Oni Manju with a simple not too sweet taste of sweet potato are delicious in a very straight forward way.
They are the perfect snack for in between meals and at a little over 100 yen (1 US dollar), they are very reasonably priced.
One of the little Manju will give you energy and fill you up and leave you satisfied for a little while at least.
Origin of Oni Manju
Oni Manju can only be found in Aichi prefecture, a fact many locals aren’t even aware of.
It is not clear today where exactly the Oni Manju came from.
Some people believe it originated in the Edo period (1603 – 1868) during a famine when the sweet potato, which was easy to produce was eaten to ward of evil, which in Japan is believed to be in the form of Oni.
Oni in the Japanese believe are creatures symbolizing evil.
They come in human form but have horns and big teeth, they are naked except for a loincloth and carry with them big and scary clubs with spikes on them.
The devil’s cakes refer to these Oni or better their horns and spiked clubs which the protruding sweet potato are said to look similar to.
I can’t really see the resemblance, but I guess with a little bit of imagination…
How to Make Oni Manju
Oni Manju only uses basic ingredients often found in cooking in Japan and are easy to make. While now they are mainly sold by confectionary shops in Nagoya, it wasn’t unusual until around the 70s that this snack would be made at home.
All you need is a sweet potato, sugar, a pinch of salt and glutinous rice flour.
Potatoes are peeled and cut into cubes, soaked in water to prevent discoloration and then sprinkled with the sugar. After 20 minutes the other ingredients are added and mixed into a dough. This dough is formed into little lumps and steamed.
Tasty and hot seamed Oni Manju are ready!
Variations of Oni Manju
Of course, not all Oni Manju are made equally.
Some have smaller, others bigger cubes, some are prepared without removing the characteristic purple sweet potato skin, and again others are made with brown sugar changing the color of the little buns from bright yellow to a dark brown color.
There is also something called Oni Man Uiro, a combination of two famous sweets from Nagoya, Oni Manju, and Uiro.
Where to try Oni Manju in Nagoya
Around Aichi, there are multiple famous and not so famous shops specialized in the yellow treat. Below I have listed a couple of them.
Since Oni Manju only cost a little over 100 yen it is a lot of fun to buy them from different shops and compare the taste.
Nagoya Food Tour
Participants in a Nagoya Meshi Food Tour can try delicious Oni Manju and many other local specialties.
This tour takes about three hours and includes visits to three restaurants and other shorter food stops while walking around Nagoya’s Sakae district, the downtown of the city.
Learn about Nagoya’s history and culture. About the favorite local dishes as well as the restaurants we visit. It is the best way to get a glimpse into the local culture.
Baikado is probably the most famous of the Oni Manju shops. This little shop has been producing Oni Manju for many years and very successfully I might add.
The store sells the little treats every day from 9:15 and even before that time commands long lines of people who come especially to buy the devil’s cakes.
Every day there is only a limited number of devil’s cakes produced, and when the stock runs out you are out of luck for the day.
Baikado is located just 200 meters away from Kakuozan subway station. You can reach it on the Higashiyama line from Nagoya in just 15 minutes.
Opening Hours: 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Address: 1-6-2 Suemoritori, Chikusa Ward, Nagoya 464-0821
Kakuozan Kichiimo is a shop specialized in sweet potato treats, and so naturally they would sell Oni Manju.
Their main shop is not far from Baikado and so you could visit both in one go if you wanted to.
They do have two branches closer to the city center as well. One conveniently in Nagoya station the other one in the Matsuzakaya department store in Sakae.
Opening Hours: 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Address: 5-2-4 Nisshintori, Chikusa Ward, Nagoya 464-0844
Beans Lab An
Beans Lab An, usually written as Beans Lab あん, is a little shop only to be found in Matsuzakaya department store, right next to the stall of Kakuozan Kichiimo.
They have been in operation only a couple of years and are specialized in Mochi or anything filled with, you might have guessed it from the name, Anko red bean paste.
But despite this, they make some delicious Oni Manju.
BEANS LAB AN
Opening Hours: 10:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Address: 3-16-1 Sakae, Naka Ward, Nagoya, 460-8430
Final Thoughts on Oni Manju
Oni Manju are sweet, but not too sweet, they fill you up and give you energy, so they are the perfect snack for in between sightseeing.
I suggest you buy a couple and just take them with you during the day. Just eat them when you feel that sugar low coming and your energy going down.
Now you just need to fill the time in between eating Oni Manju with some things to do in Nagoya, am I right? You could get started by reading the Nagoya Travel Guide. Or check out the 1 day in Nagoya itinerary.
Or you can read these posts next:
- Komeda’s Coffee a staple of Nagoya
- Where to try the best Kishimen in Nagoya
- The best restaurants to eat Hitsumabushi
- Try Tenmusu – Nagoya’s mini Onigiri
- What is Uiro? And where to try Uiro in Nagoya?
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In love with Japan and its amazing food, Lena wants to share her passion with the world. That’s why she started Nagoya Foodie. To teach about Nagoya, her adoptive home online through blog posts and offline through unique food tours.