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Anpan has been around for all of 120 years! It was first produced at the head office of Kimuraya, which is still located at 4-chome, Ginza, Tokyo. Yasubei Kimura and his son's interest in bread began when they first came across bread in Yokohama, which was in those days a settlement for foreigners. Subsequently, in the second year of the Meiji Period (1869), they opened Buneido (this was later to become Kimuraya), the first Japanese owned bakery in Japan, in Hikage-cho, Tokyo (now Shimbashi Ekimae).

Their first attempts at making bread saw them mix steamed mashed potatoes with a soup made by mixing beer hops with flour and fermenting it. The result was bread that was black and hard, something far removed from the bread that they had eaten in Yokohama, and they had quite some difficulty in selling it.

It was then that they decided to attempt to make a bread original to Japan. Keeping in mind the fact that "Japanese people love manju", they hit upon the idea of using sakadane, which is used when making sake manju.

Their first attempts ended in failure when the bread was burnt to a cinder as a result of too-high temperatures. After more than a year of research, they at last discovered sakadane yeast fungus by culturing koji and rice, and then, after getting ideas from traditional Japanese manju, anpan was born.

At first, they produced two types of anpan, shirogoma (topped with white sesame seed) and keshi (topped with poppy seed), and sold them for 5 rin, the price of a bowl of soba at the time, each. These must have been quite rare. Nowadays we can buy anpan for about 120 yen, which is approximately a fifth of the price of a bowl of soba.

In the eighth year of the Meiji period, they presented anpan topped with pickled cherry blossoms to the Emperor on an auspicious occasion. This was the beginning of sakura anpan which is still popular today.

Dough using yeast can usually be made in about 4 hours, but it takes more than a day to make dough for anpan because it uses sakadane. If you count the number of days from the day of the culturing of sakadane, it takes more than ten days to make this kind of bread.

Nowadays, anpan is made not only using an, but also a variety of other fillings.