Friday, September 9, 2011

moon-viewing festival (more rabbit manju)

The Tsuki-mi (moon viewing) celebration is fast approaching, and while debating whether to bother making a pile of the traditional tsuki-mi dango (moon viewing dumplings), I came across these adorable rabbit-shaped steamed manju being promoted as an alternative treat for the occasion. In the Japanese mind, rabbits are closely associated with the moon, as it is not a man's face, but a rabbit pounding mochi that we see when we look up at the full moon on a clear autumn evening.

I know we covered rabbit confections aplenty in honor of the year of the rabbit, but the moon viewing festival is another thing entirely, and rabbit manju is a nice change from the simple, round (i.e. moon-shaped) mochi dumplings that are usually displayed (and eaten) on this occasion. I ordered the rabbit manju shown here from a wagashi confectionery called Piyonta in Kyoto. The box that arrived contained six manju, two each of three different flavors: "plain," "chocolate," and "green tea."

According to my trusty tongue (and the ingredients list printed on the box), the outer layer of these manju is made with wheat flour. The "plain" flavor has a creamy tan-colored outer shell and creamy tan-colored filling flecked with chopped chestnuts and red azuki beans. The "chocolate" flavor has a dark brown outer shell and a light-brown filling flecked with almonds and chocolate. The "green tea" flavor has a green outer shell and smooth green filling, each colored and flavored with powdered green tea (matcha). In each case, and regardless of the color, the filling is White bean An-based.

Further complexity of flavor and a gentle sweetness result from the addition of egg yolk, butter, and sweetened condensed milk, which gives it the familiar fragrance and flavor of Western-style cakes and cookies. I've noticed that sweetened condensed milk pops up more and more often in wagashi ingredients these days.

Someday I'll try to reproduce this wheat-flour manju and post a recipe, but not today. I lost most of the photos I took, and didn't realize it until the manju were eaten up and it was too late to take more photos. Sorry about that. By the way, these manju were delicious! : )

While you're here, check out the rice-flour based bunny manju and bunny mochi recipes too!


  1. They look very simple and very elegant!

    They remind me a little of Chinese Mooncakes.

  2. Wau! they are so nice and lovely and look so delicious! ^^
    Thank you for sharing this! ^^

  3. Hello,

    I find your blog very beautiful, and helpful now that I am trying to translate some wagashi toys I received as a present. There is one word that keeps popping up and I can't tell what it is - my hunch is that it's the little pick/fork you often see. Do you know what that is called? It would help me very much - thank you either way!

  4. @DF Dotter, the picks or little wood (sometimes metal) "knives" that one eats wagashi with are called youji or wagashi youji (菓子楊枝). I think the forked ones are called by the same name, although I have seen them referred to a "wagashi forks" before. You may be familiar with "Youji" as it is used when referring to toothpicks, which are called Tsuma-youji. I hope this helps.

  5. Hi,

    I think these would be helpful information for you.

    This is my Vietnamese bunny mooncake i have made for the previous Mid Autumn festival:

    And this is Korean style mooncake which is quite easy to make and the ingredients are condensed milk and plain flour

    I'm a little bit lazy to re-type recipes into English now, so if you think these are what you are finding, you can contact me via email: I hope this helps

  6. @fuchsia511, thanks for the links! I do have a recipe. I just haven't had time to put up a new post. I will try to do that soon. In the meantime, I will encourage readers who are interested in your recipe to contact you, if that's okay.