Surprise! Japanese people LOVE bread!
Most people living outside of Japan associate Japan with “a country of rice.” Many of you know Japanese people consume a lot of rice, like in every meal or every day. However, if you once come to Japan, that image will be broken down. In fact, Japanese people adore bread, or pan in Japanese. You will find bakeries around the corner, such as train stations, department stores, residential areas, etc. and you will be surprised at the unique varieties and appearances of bread.
Today we will introduce top 10 Japanese bread types you should try during your stay in Japan.
Melon bread is a type of sweet bread that resembles melon in its appearance. It has soft, fluffy bread on the bottom covered with a layer of sweet cookie-like dough. Although it is named “melon-pan,” it doesn’t have a taste of melon. But some shops add melon cream or use a green-colored dough so that it gets like a genuine melon taste or appearance. The combination of a soft bun and a sweet cookie crust makes an interesting texture of soft and crispy.
Melon bread is available not only bakeries but also at convenience stores and supermarkets. Different convenience stores and bread maker companies produce different varieties of melon pan. Some emphasize on a crispy texture of cookie dough while others emphasize on fluffy texture, and some have whipped cream or melon cream inside. It will be interesting to try various melon-pan and find your absolute favorite.
Anpan is made with normal sweet roll stuffed with red bean paste inside. It has a round shape and usually topped with black sesame or poppy seeds. Anpan is one of the traditional Japanese bread invented by Yasubee Kimura in 1874. Kimura owned his company called Kimura-ya, whose original shop still exists in Ginza and its anpan is widely famous across Japan.
Many varieties of anpan are produced using different fillings such as mashed sweet potatoes and mashed chestnuts. Anpan that has walnuts in the dough is called “Kurumi-anpan,” and that is deep-fried with powdered sugar is called “An-doughnut.” The subtly sweet flavor of anpan makes both a great lunch and a dessert.
3.Cream pan クリームパン (Cream Bread)
Cream pan is a popular selection of bread for small kids. It has custard cream inside of a normal roll. It was invented by Aizo Soma in 1904, with inspiration from cream puffs. Cream bread was considered to have a high nutritional value at that time, so it was spread all over Japan.
Cream pan can be found at any types of shops from local bakeries to convenience stores, but there are some companies that specialize in cream bread such as Nakamura-ya and Hattendo. Those shops are usually located inside of train stations and at basement floors of department stores. If you want to try sophisticated cream-pan, cream-pan-specialized shops are worth a try.
4.Choco cornet チョココロネ
Choco-cornet is horn-shaped bread with a hole at the center, filled with chocolate cream. Sweet dough is wrapped around a cone-shaped metal mold and baked. The mold is removed after baked, and then the hole is filled with chocolate cream. So, compared to other filling-in bread, you can enjoy the freshness of the cream.
5.Agepan 揚げパン (Deep-fried bread)
Agepan is a deep-fried hotdog bun coated with sugar. It was invented after WW2 to make up for the malnutrition of children. With its high calories, agepan was an easy, quick way of filling up the calories needed for the day when Japan was lack of food after the war. Agepan used to be served only as the school lunch, but it gradually came to be consumed in daily lives.
Agepan is rarely found at convenience stores and supermarkets. You can find it at local bakeries or agepan shops. Varieties of sugar and filling are created by different bakeries and agepan shops, such as kinako sugar, cinnamon sugar, green tea powder, strawberry cream, almond milk cream, custard cream, and many more!
6.Curry pan カレーパン (Curry bread)
Curry pan is a deep-fried bun filled with curry. The basic type of curry pan is rugby ball-shaped, filled with thick, a bit spicy Japanese curry, and deep-fried with breadcrumbs around. But varieties of bakeries and bread maker companies produce a wide range of this item: some are baked in the oven rather than deep-fried, some have melted cheese along with curry…imaginations of bread makers create infinite varieties. Also, the taste and ingredients of curry differ depending on the shop. Try many varieties and find your favorite curry pan!
7.Yakisoba pan 焼きそばパン (Yakisoba Bread)
Yakisoba pan is a hotdog bun with yakisoba (a Japanese noodle dish) sandwiched. This bread may give you a shock… “Carbohydrate in carbohydrate?! How could Japanese people eat such weird bread?!”
But, just give it a try. It is good. A salty, a bit spicy taste of yakisoba and a little sweet flavor of a bun go well. Yakisoba pan is sold at convenience stores and supermarkets, and sometimes you may be able to find one at local bakery shops.
Tell us what you thought of yakisoba pan when you tried!
8.Katsu sando カツサンド (Pork cutlet sandwich)
Katsu sando is made with pork cutlet (tonkatsu) sandwiched with white bread. Pork cutlet is flavored with tonkatsu sauce, and sometimes shredded cabbage is sandwiched together. Like yakisoba pan, saltiness and spiciness of sauce go well with the slight sweetness of the bread.
Katsu sando is sold not only at convenience stores, supermarkets and bakeries, but also at train stations (usually big stations or shinkansen stations) because its portableness makes a good ride-on snack on the train. Also, tonkatsu restaurant such as Maisen or Wako sells katsu sando.
9.Character bread/Animal bread キャラクターブレッド/アニマルブレッド
Character/animal bread is a type of bread that looks popular anime characters or animals. It would be more difficult to find this type of bread than other types of bread introduced here because it is not sold at convenience stores and supermarkets, and not all bakeries make this variety of bread. But cute appearances of anime characters and animals will make your mealtime happy.
10.Shoku pan 食パン (White bread)
Shoku pan is a common type of bread in Japan. It is like toasts or pain de mie from France, and it has a box-like shape when baked and sliced when eaten. An original form of shoku pan was introduced to Japan from England in the 19th century and made for foreign residents at that time. But after the WW2, shoku pan was sold for the American military staying in Japan, and gradually transformed into the Japanese-style taste.
Shoku pan is commonly eaten for breakfast at Japanese households, usually toasted with jam or better put on. This bread is sold at any types of shops from convenience stores to bakeries, and taste and texture are different depending on the shop. Some focus on fluffy texture, but another focuses on doughy texture. Some shops produce sweet, butter-rich shoku pan, but others make less sweet one.
If you are looking for something basic of Japanese bread, shoku pan is the one. Buy one loaf and enjoy the fluffy, doughy texture and a subtle sweetness in your breakfast.
11. Coppe pan コッペパン
Coppe pan is a common Japanese bread that resembles coupé or hot dog buns. It has a soft texture and slightly sweet flavor, and it is typically sold with fillings sandwiched. The common fillings include jam, batter, red bean paste, peanut butter, and occasionally tonkatsu, eggs, hams, and so on. Therefore, coppe pan can be enjoyed both as a meal and a snack depending on the filling.
Coppe pan has more than 90 years of its history. It was firstly invented in 1919, and it had been widely served for school lunch until 1980s. As bread has become common for the Japanese daily diet and wider varieties of bread have become available, coppe pan got less familiar in Japan. However, recently, bread shops that sell large selections of coppe pan have been catching attentions. Some shops sell fancy coppe pan that worth Instagraming!
Try Interesting Japanese Unique Bread!
If you are not a fan of rice or you are sick of eating rice in Japan, please remember that there is another option- bread. Wide varieties of bread are available around the corner. Eating bread in Japan seems away from Japanese food culture, but in fact, Japanese bread is not the same as what you have in your country. Looking for your favorite Japanese bread will be an interesting experience!