The Roots of Manjyu: Jyouyo Manju

Rin Shrine is located in the precinct of the Kango-jinja Shrine near the Kintetu Nara Station. Join Rin, who created the first Manju (Japanese bun) filled with bean paste in Japan, has been enshrined there.

It is said that Manju was originally brought from China where meat was used as a filling and it was called Manto. However, as eating meat was forbidden in Japanese Buddhism, he created Manju without using meat. Manju was filled with bean paste and wrapped with a dough made from kneaded flour and then steamed. Bean paste was made from red beans which were boiled with sugar plant called Amazura and salt.

Manju festival has been held on 19th April every year, the anniversary of the death of Join Rin. Confectionary makers across the country gather and offer confections to his shrine during the festival.

Favorite Manju of the emperor: the origin of red and white Manju
Manju made by Join Rin became so popular that they were offered to Emperor Go-Murakami. As the emperor was very pleased with his Manju, the emperor favored him and offered a court lady to him.

At his marriage, Join was so pleased that he gave red and white Manju to people in various places and buried Manju under a large stone to pray for the prosperity.
This was the beginning of the custom of red and white Manju gift on weddings or celebrations.

References:
  • Toshiko, Tanaka (2001), “Yamato no Aji” (“Taste of Yamato”), Nara Newspaper Inc., ISBN 4888560374
  • Shoko, Masuo (1997), “Kango-jinja Shrine and Rin Shrine”, Nara-machi Memoir Vol 25, My Nara Editorial Department.
  • Long-established Confectionary Store: Shiose Souhonke Official Site, “Shiose Manju no Yurai” (“The history of ShioseManju”), <https://www.shiose.co.jp/user_data/about_origin.php>
  • Kango-jinja Shrine Official Site (2010), “Rin Shrine Genesis”, <http://www.kangou-jinja.jp/genesis/>

※All references are available in Japanese only.

Shops serving Nara’s original confectionary
  • Tsuruyatokuman
    Tel: +81-742-23-2454
    Address: 29 Shimomikadocho, Nara City, Nara, 630-8365 Japan
  • Manshoudou
    Tel: +81-742-22-2502
    Address: 24-1 Higashimukinakamachi, Nara City, Nara 630-8215