When you visit Okinawa‘s capital city Naha, there are three manjū shops that you have to visit, even if you aren’t a sweet tooth! Because every single one of them has usually completely sold out of their delicious manjūs by noon, you can tell how popular they are among the locals and tourists.
Although none of the manjūs is fancy, the handmade desserts are made without cutting corners, which is the key to their business success.
Tip: To avoid disappointment, head to the shops early. Or, you can call to make a reservation.
Yamagusuku Manjū (山城まんじゅう)
The first popular manjū shop is Yamagusuku Manjū, a spot around Shurijō Castle Park for you to top up your sugar levels.
The confectionery maker with more than 160 years of history sells something so simple but delicious. What is wrapping the handmade red bean paste is a thin, dumpling-like skin. Then the entire sweet is placed on shell ginger leaves and steamed for 30 minutes. This is why the freshly made manjū has the nice fragrance of shell ginger.
The shop reduces the sugar level in Yamagusuku Manjū, making it a popular confectionary even for those who aren’t fans of sweets. In fact, the sweets maker usually receives more male customers than females!
☛ The shop is popular among the locals. So, be there by noon to avoid disappointment!
☛ Come to Yamagusuku Manjū at 10:30 am for the freshly made Manjū!
Yamagusuku Manjū’s Business Hours and Access Information
- Yamagusuku Manjū is open from 10:30 am to 4 pm or until sold out.
- The shop is closed on Mondays and Thursdays.
Gibo Manjyū (ぎぼまんじゅう)
Close to the Ishimine Station (石嶺駅), there is a bun maker that sells sweet buns that you will never forget once you see them.
The buns filled with red bean paste are formally named Gibo Manjyū. But because there is a large red “no (の)” written on the bun, people call the bun No Manjyū (のまんじゅう).
The “no” is taken from the word Noshi (熨斗), a decoration attached to gifts. That’s right. The buns were originally made for special occasions!
When you put through your order, the staff will definitely ask you if you want the word “no” written on the bun. This is because the buns without the “no” written are appropriate for memorial services.
Of course, as tourists, we always answer “Hai! (meaning yes)”, to see the staff writing that big の in front of you!
Apparently, when Gibo Manjyū was first established more than 100 years ago, it was located in the Seikōji Temple’s (盛光寺) precinct, close to the Gibo Station (儀保駅). But as the temple underwent a renovation, the shop was relocated to its current location in 2004.
While you might be picturing the bun’s texture as similar to the Chinese buns, that is not the case. Because Gibo Manjyū makes the bun’s skin from flour dough fermented with fresh yeast, No Manjyū’s skin has a fluffy and chewy texture!
Again, the sweetness of the red bean paste is reduced, making it a dessert suitable for everyone!
Tip: If you can’t eat the Nomanjyū on the spot, add a little moisture to the bun and warm it up in a microwave or a steamer.
Gibo Manjyū’s Business Hours and Access Information
- Gibo Manjyū is open daily from 9 am to 4 pm or until sold out, except Sundays.
- It is around a 5-minute walk from Yui Rail’s (ゆいレール) Ishimine Station (石嶺駅).
Peechinya is another confectionary maker that was relocated after its establishment. Originally located in the market in front of the Tenkougū Temple (天妃宮) on Kume Island (久米島), the signatory sweet sold here is called Tenpinome Manjyū (天妃前まんじゅう).
Apparently, the same type of dessert was sold in Taiwan’s Tenkougū’s market. The founder of Peechinya went all the way to Taiwan to learn the method of making Tenpinome Manjyū more than 100 years ago!
Made from powdered roasted wheat, Tenpinome Manjyū’s thin skin is rather chewy. As it doesn’t harden even when cold, it is delicious to be consumed chilled.
Besides Tenpinome Manjyū, Peechinya now has a new menu item called Kuzumochi (くずもち). The chewy sweet is made from yam bean and is so delicious that soon after the shop introduced it to the market, it quickly became a popular item.
Peechinya’s Business Hours and Access Information
- Peechinya is open daily from 9:30 am to 4 pm or until sold out except Thursdays, Sundays, and public holidays.
- It is around a 10-minute walk from Yui Rail’s (ゆいレール) Asahibashi Station (旭橋駅) or Tsubogawa Station (壺川駅).
Discover Other Attractions in Naha
Your visit to Naha obviously won’t be just for the traditional sweets. The city is filled with a wide range of attractions for you to discover! But which attractions are worth your time?
If that is the question on your mind, our Naha City article has got you covered! Whether it is shopping on the famous Kokusai-dōri Street or visiting a shrine located atop a cliff next to a local beach, you will find all the information you need in the article (=ﾟωﾟ)ﾉ.