My wife bought me a great present the other day: a book featuring all the places to buy yaki-manju in our prefecture. A traditional food that’s essentially balls of bread on wooden skewers cooked over charcoal while being painted with a sauce of miso and brown sugar, yaki-manju is one of my favorite foods, but since young Japanese are generally not interested in taking over these family businesses, more and more shops close every year — something the our prefectural government is trying to stop by publishing the guidebook. I intend to spend the next few weekends zooming around discovering some of these great shops, since the owners are always so happy to talk with a foreigner. Other things Gunma is famous for include mountains, a really firm gelatinous food called konjac or Devil’s Tongue, strong winds in the winter, and strong-willed women all year round.
Note that Yaki-Manju dosn’t have the sweet beans inside that foreigners usually dislike (but which I have also come to appreciate).