Kanazawa’s Traditional Sweet for Summer
Japanese confectionaries, known as wagashi, are one of the ways that Japanese people appreciate the seasons. Wagashi are deeply to the traditional customs that underscore the rhythms of daily life.
A special wagashi called Himuro Manju (a bun with a bean paste filling) is eaten in Kanazawa on July 1.
During the Edo period, people in the Kaga clan stored snow in underground icehouses called himuro where it was then preserved until summer. On 1 July the himuro was opened and the snow (which by then had turned into ice) was taken out. Some of the ice was then sent to Edo (Tokyo) as a gift to the Shogun. During that period, a local confectioner conceived the idea of making special manju to offer to Shinto shrines to pray for a safe trip to Edo.
There still is a thatched-roofed himuro hut at Yuwaku Onsen in Kanazawa, which attracts tourist as the tradition of filling the hut with snow in winter and opening it to remove the ice is recreated on June 30 every year.
The local confectionary shops make and sell Himuro Manju when the time for himuro opening approaches, and people eat them praying for good health.