Translated by Nicola
Too Cute to Eat? Ueno’s Zoo-Themed Rice Buns!
Written by Miku Yasuda
What's cuter than Ueno Zoo's pandas? How about Ueno's zoo-themed rice buns? At Nakamikoshien you can find cute rice buns that also make really good souvenirs.
In the Ecute department store in Ueno Station, there are various types of sweets. In this article, we’d like to show you some very cute sweets, perfect for souvenirs.
The shop: founded 88 years ago in 1927, Namikoshiken.
Namikoshiken is a sweets shop established in Nagoya in 1927.
Outside of Nagoya, the only other store in Japan is the one in Ueno. Since it became began selling in Tokyo, it’s become very popular among customers looking for traditional Japanese sweets. Since the store is actually located inside the ticket gates of Ueno Station, it’s very convenient to visit when there's bad weather, or if you’re in a rush.
There isn’t just this a panda, but various types of sweets all lined up! Just looking at the pretty display is exciting.
The very popular zoo-themed rice buns
By far the most popular sweet at Namikoshiken is the Zoo Buns. Actually, these cute animal buns are a traditional Japanese sweet called Manju (*1)
Since these buns are so popular and well-established, it seems like you should keep them for a special event, but the truth is that they can easily be enjoyed casually as well.
(*1) Manju is a type of bun made with ground rice grains, which creates a sticky, stretchy outside. It’s typically filled with sweet red bean paste. The beans are usually crushed and boiled with sugar.
This time we’ll be looking at the panda buns. In Ueno, in the famous Ueno Zoo, there are two very rare giant pandas. Therefore, when Japanese people think of Ueno, they immediately think of pandas.
It’s perfectly bite-sized. Since the skin is rather thin, and the inner contents are packed to the brim, it’s a very satisfying bite!
Of course there are other types, ranging from bears and elephants, to rabbits and lions. You can choose your favourite!
For those who don’t really like sweet red bean paste, we recommend this alternative called, Premium Zoo. The buns have chocolate inside, instead of sweet red bean paste! So for those who don’t like red bean paste, or for small children, these buns could be a good option.
These animal-shaped sweets are a perfect souvenir for those who have visited Ueno Zoo. Not only that, but they’re also a convenient present just waiting to be bought inside the gates of Ueno Station. Definitely come take a look!
Namikoshiken, Ecute Ueno Branch
Address: 7-1-1 Taito-ku, Ueno, Tokyo Ecute Ueno 3F
Nearest station: Ueno Station
Hours: Monday to Thursday and Saturday 8:00 to 22:00
Friday 8:00 to 22:30
Sunday 8:00 to 21:00
Closed: Open Year Round
Website: Namikoshiken (Japanese)