Anpanman is Japan's red nosed, rosy cheeked, beaming, bald and beatific - oh, and edible - superhero of justice.
Anpan is an amalgam of the words an, meaning "bean paste," and pan, meaning "bread," (originally from the Portuguese pão), and is, as the name suggests, a bread dumpling stuffed with bean paste.
According to the Wikipedia entry, this avatar of Japanese snack food was born of wartime desperation, bred in the imagination of the now 93 year old Takashi Yanase, currently chairman of the Japan Cartoonists Association, when he was a hungry soldier in World War Two.
Fascinatingly, Anpanman's head is replaceable, and when his Uncle Jam bakes him a new one he gets a new lease on life, the sweet sticky brown matter filling his head being the only sustenance he needs.
Considering the massive popularity of Anpanman with pre-pubescents, the remoteness of Tokyo's only dedicated Anpanman shop from any commercial hub is a little odd. The Tokyo Anpanman Shop is in Shinjuku - one of Tokyo's busiest and most commercial wards - but quite a way from any of Shinjuku's main shopping areas.
Nevertheless, what it lacks in accessibility it makes up for in superabundance. This quite small store is chockablock from floor to ceiling with every possible Anpanman product available, from Anpanman stationery to Anpanman beach balls to Anpanman board games to Anpanman picture books to Anpanman baby bracelets to Anpanman postcards ... you are hereby challenged to imagine what Anpanman-related isn't stocked!
Anpanman is not alone in his adventures. Since the TV series began in 1988, there have been almost two thousand auxiliary characters added, most of them food-related.
7 Funamachi, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo
Google Map to the Tokyo Anpanman Shop
Tel. 03 3226 8180
Read about the Anpanman Museum
Anpanman Shop Website
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