Hot ‘n tasty man

One of the things that surprised me while living in Japan, was the fact that there are so many seasonal foods in Japan. Coming from a country where it is considered completely normal to eat tomatoes all through winter and where young people think pineapple is a local produce (it’s not!), I was charmed by the way Japanese people look forward to their seasonal foods.

As a first world nation, the Japanese are of course perfectly capable of importing anything they might want at any time of the year. My personal interpretation is that they deliberately choose not to. I had the impression that people relish the anticipation associated with seasonal treats, and that the food is enjoyed all the more intensely because it is only available for a limited amount of time.

A good example of such a seasonal food is the wintery snack called ‘man’ (まん). Starting november, convenience stores all over Japan put heated display cases on the counter, displaying an assortment of stuffed buns (could this post get any more suggestive? I swear I’m not even trying).

Display cases with hot snacks in the convenience store
Display cases with hot snacks in the convenience store

There are different kinds according to the stuffing, like for example meat man (nikuman 肉まん), cheese curry man (chiizukareman チーズカレーまん) and my favourite, pizza man (pizaman ピザまん), which is filled with tomato sauce and melted mozzarella cheese. The ‘man’ is wrapped in a paper wrapper, much like a hamburger, and is of course meant to be eaten within minutes after purchasing it. Perfect for a quick snack on the go!

display with hot stuffed buns in japan
Different kinds of ‘man’ on display
Pizza man. Yummy!

11 thoughts on “Hot ‘n tasty man

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    1. I think the one with red bean paste also exists in Japan, but I’ve never tried it. Somehow the sweetness of the red bean paste didn’t appeal so much to me in combination with the bun.

  1. Bout how big are they? They look large in the display case but the display may be small. Living in California I can pretty much get whatever I want when I want. But there are certain things I eat at specific times of the year because that is when they come in season and they are the best. My favorite time to eat strawberries is April/May we even have a Strawberry Festival here. If you ever see imported strawberries, check to see if they are from Santa Maria. We export lots of produce.

    1. I’d say they are about the size of the palm of your hand.

      I’ll check about the strawberries next time I buy some, altough I think most of the strawberries in Belgium are hydroculture, produced in Belgium. Of course the taste isn’t the same as sun-ripened strawberries. Japanese strawberries were so much more tasty. Best I ever tasted!

  2. Happy New Year!Wish you’re having wonderful time.
    Thank you for your cute New Year Card also,I was SO happy!!
    The address written in Hiragana reminds me how much you love Japan and Japanese!
    As for this post,I also like ピザまん.Honestly,I don’t buy these kinds of man very often.However,I always choose pizza-man every time.It’s yummy,and makes me feel happy.
    Please say hi to your husband for me!
    Looking forward to seeing you in Japan near future:D
    (It’s like a letter…sorry!)

  3. I totally agree! The seasonal food thing is fun!

    And pizzaman is pretty good too. 🙂 ALthough I don’t really like the nikuman, I don’t think. I don’t know if I’ve tried Cheese Curry~!

    1. I heard from my brother, who lives in Tokyo, that over there, they have stores who sell nothing but ‘man’, offering a lot more variety than the five or so that I have seen in the Nagoya area. Can you imagine, a special man store? I feel so small town now 🙂

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