Yamaguchi City is located in the center of Yamaguchi Prefecture.
The five-story pagoda of Ruriko-ji Temple in the city is one of the three most famous pagodas in Japan, and there are some historic landmarks of the unique culture of Yamaguchi (Ouchi culture), and old rows of houses.
”Meika Shitatsuzumi” is one of the Japanese sweets representing Yamaguchi Prefecture.
Also, there is a Japanese-style confectionery with a long history in Yamaguchi City.
It is called “Meika(well-known/excellent sweet) Shitatsuzumi (smacking lips)” made by San-in-do.
This sweet has been loved by many generations for a long time.
“San-in-do” has more than 130 years’ history following its establishment in Yamaguchi City.
San-in-do is located along the Nakaichi shopping street, in the center of Yamaguchi City.
It looks like a Japanese castle, and has a very distinct atmosphere, so you can’t miss it.
In the showcase, there are various Japanese sweets, such as Uiro (steamed cake made of rice powder), monaka (bean-jam-filled wafers), and so on.
Of course, you can buy just one item for your tea break.
There is a space where you can have a cup of tea inside of the store, so maybe it is a chance for you to take a rest during your shopping.
The fourth president, Mr. Takehara, took me on a special tour of the factory.
The behind the scenes making of “Meika Shitatsuzumi”
“Meika Shitatsuzumi” is made in this establishment, and about 10 staff members are now making sweets at the factory.
This is the sweet white bean paste they put inside of Shitatsuzumi, made from navy beans from Hokkaido.
Most of basic ingredients and the recipe have not been changedsince the original one was made more than 130 years ago.
The process of making a piece of manju with very soft gyuhi should be done by hand, not machines. (Gyuhi is dough or rice cake made from refined rice flour or glutinous rice flour with sugar and starch syrup.)
The woman in the photo has been making this manju for 50 years…!
Actually, making them requires very high level of skill which involves the superb technique of not squeezing the super soft gyuhi manju.
Therefore, only highly-skilled staff members who have a long experience making them are allowed to make this confectionary.
Fresh Shitatsuzumi look like they are wearing powdery snow!
The name is branded on each surface, and they are finally finished!
You can tell how soft they are from their appearance, and its texture is like the cheek of baby!
Let’s try this great sweet!
Please pick it up with your fingers very gently, because it is too soft to keep its shape as it is.
You will begin to smile naturally as soon as you put it in your mouth.
The melting texture of gyuhi and the gentle sweetness of the white bean paste is a great combination for making people happy!
There is an amusing anecdote about the name of this confectionary.
At first, the name of this sweet was just “Shitatsuzumi.”
However, the prime minister at the time tried it and said that it should be renamed to “Meika Shitatsuzumi” because it is incredibly delicious.
Therefore, the word “meika” (meaning well-known or excellent sweet) was added to the name.
“Meika Shitatsuzumi” is a very simple, but amazingly delicious sweet.
Now we understand why it has been loved by so many people for such a long time.
Please try it and feel the happiness brought to you by this small Japanese sweet!
San-in-do Honten (home store)
Address／6-15, Nakaichi-cho, Yamaguchi-shi, Yamaguchi
Parking lot／Please park at the coin-operated parking near the store.
Nearest station／10-minutes’ walk from JRYamaguchi Station
Photographs and text by Nana Takei
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