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AD!Venture 2017.02.01 A Story of Manju ― Part 2: Shacho’s Story

A Story of Manju ― Part 2: Shacho’s Story

At the meeting about marketing strategy over coffee, I confessed to Mr. Hamaguchi that I was curious about our tradition of handing out Noneman. And so, his story began, with the Sengoku era:


“There are these two important eras in Japan: the Sengoku Era and the Meiji Era. The Sengoku Era, commonly known as the warring states era, ended once Japan was unified under the Tokugawa Shogunate circa 1603.


Some 250 years later, a man named Sakamoto Ryoma finished his higher education and returned home to Tosa (Kochi). There he organized with his samurai friends a political party with the slogan "Revere the Emperor, Expel the Barbarians" to, essentially, overthrow the Tokugawa Regime. This was joined by other anti-Shogunate samurai, who become known as shishi or “men of high purpose”.


The plots and coups of these men lead to the eventual resignation of the Shogunate and the restoration of the Emperor in the Meiji Restoration of 1867. Ryoma, who had left his clan and his hometown to great controversy to carry out his shishi duties, was welcomed back, with honor, once all was said and done. Unfortunately, shortly before the Restoration he had helped bring about, on his birthday of that year, Ryoma was assassinated.”


While the tale was interesting, I was confused. Where did the manju come in? I was trying to be an attentive audience, but I was getting restless.


“Well,” Mr. Hamaguchi continued, and I felt a revelation on the horizon, “Sakamoto Ryoma’s hometown is my hometown. I grew up hearing about him because he’s a hero down there. And, in Kochi, it is well known that Sakamoto Ryoma liked alcohol and sweets.”


I was beginning to see where this was going.


“You know that this manju is from Kochi, right? From None, which is why it’s called Noneman (None manju). And Noneman has a long history. It is entirely possible, you see, that he ate it. Sakamoto Ryoma. This very Noneman. I mean,” and here he laughed, “we can’t really prove it. But my grandmother used to tell me that when she fed it to me: you’re eating the manju Sakamoto Ryoma ate! It’s no fact, but maybe, just maybe, he really did.”


Ho. I took a sip of coffee and considered the sheer scope of the story. Somewhat impressed, I laughed, and Mr. Hamaguchi did too. The manju my office coveted, the manju we had been passing out so cheerfully during New Year’s rounds, apparently had a rather interesting way of fitting into history. Noneman: handmade, delicious, and embroiled (through (a probable) connection) in plots of rebellion, assassination, and the foundations of modern Japan. I would never have guessed.


Now privy to an oral history that dared me to believe, I was emboldened. I decided that that this was my opportunity to taste history. So, returning to the office after that meeting, I kept my eyes on the counter in the group work area. This was where the snacks were laid out for everyone to share, and was sure to be where the left-over Noneman would soon appear.


And, true to form, it did not take long for the first of the boxes to be opened. Within a few short hours, two boxes, side-by-side, were under fire from passers-by and their quick fingers. Despite my vigilance, by the time I got to them, my coworkers had already made a pock-marked ruin out of the giftboxes. I had to scavenge for a remaining morsel.


And that’s when I also found something else: a booklet.



“Hamaguchi’s Noneman” (Hamaguchi no Noneman), it read, bold across its cover. “Hamaguchi Fukugetsudo is the only confectionary shop in None that has continued since Meiji.” 

Since Meiji?

Not before? 


Well, I chewed happily, this definitely stirred up some questions I had thought were already answered.

(This story isn’t over yet. Please check in soon for what the booklet revealed in Part 3,
“The Noneman Epic.”)


Produced by Bigbeat,Inc.
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