If you are a fan of Japanese movies, anime, or manga, you’ve probably come across a scene of students fighting for the few precious yakisoba pan in the school cafeteria, or heard of melonpan. But what are these exactly? Let’s dive into the yummy world of Japanese breads!
Bakeries can be found in neighborhoods across Japan, and they offer a wide variety of baked goods. One especially popular bakery snack are Japanese-style breads and buns, which range from sweet breads, collectively known as kashipan, to savory breads referred to as chouripan.
Japanese breads are typically filled or stuffed. These fillings include everything from sweet custards and fruity jams to savory curry and more. Both kashipan and chouripan are relatively quick and easy to eat, making them a popular choice for breakfast, lunch, dessert and snacking.
Whether you prefer your snack to be sweet or savory, there’s a tasty filled bun option for you! Check out this list of some of our favorite types of Japanese breads.
Kashipan: Sweet Breads
Kashipan comes from the words for “snack” and “bread” combined to make “snack-bread.” They can be filled or not, but are almost always sweetened. They’re usually portable and perfectly portioned for one person, not for sharing.
Anpan is a Japanese sweet roll that can be traced back to the Meiji period (1868-1912), where they were invented by a former samurai.
Anpan is typically filled with a sweet bean paste called anko, which is made from red beans, or azuki. Sometimes, the filling is made from white beans and can be flavored with a variety of ingredients like sesame, chestnut, and matcha.
Anpan are extremely popular. They even inspired a Japanese anime called “Anpanman,” where the main character is a superhero with an anpan for a head!
Jamupan, or “jam bread,” looks similar to a jelly donut, but it’s actually a sweet jam-filled bun. If you’re a fan of fruity fillings, jamupan could be your jam!
The original flavor of jamupan filling was apricot. Today, strawberry and apple fillings are also available—although strawberry is arguably the most popular. Some jamupan also contain a bit of whipped cream.
Kurimpan, or “cream bread,” is another kind of kashipan. This Japanese bread is filled with an all too crave-able custard cream filling.
Especially delicious when they’re warm, kurimpan are a staple in Japanese bakeries and definite must-try. The smooth, creamy custard filling typically features a hint of vanilla, making for a delicious dessert or snack.
Rather than tasting like melon, this sweet bun looks like the rind of one. Melonpan, or “melon bread,” is a round little bun that’s covered in a thin layer of cookie dough, which is what makes for this kashipan’s unique texture.
Melonpan occasionally contain chocolate chips or are flavored with caramel, maple syrup, and—sometimes—essence of melon. Whipped cream or custard fillings can also be found.
Chouripan: Savory Breads
On the opposite end of the Japanese bread spectrum is chouripan! These are filled with flavorful savory fillings, often inspired by popular Japanese meals. Unlike kashipan, chouripan are sometimes eaten as a meal in itself because they’re filling and portable.
Karepan, or “curry bread,” is the first of our savory Japanese breads. This chouripan features a Japanese-style curry that’s wrapped in dough, coated in breadcrumbs, and then deep-fried or baked.
Japanese curry often includes beef or chicken along with some vegetables and flavorful seasoning. Karepan can be found in both bakeries and convenience stores, and they make for a filling snack or lunch.
Shokupan, or Japanese milk bread, is a super fluffy white bread that’s as delicious as it is soft.
This bread is made using the “yudane method” or “yundane approach,” which calls for the combination of boiling water and flour. This is what makes shokupan’s uniquely fluffy texture.
There’s a Hokkaido version of shokupan that’s on the slightly sweeter side, but shokupan is more of a blank slate that you can make sweet or savory with add-ons. For example, shokupan is used to make ogura toast, a regional breakfast dish of Nagoya.
Considered a kind of souzaipan, or “stuffed bread,” as well as a chouripan, yakisobapan is a soft roll that’s stuffed with yakisoba noodles.
Yakisoba is a stir-fry noodle dish and iconic street food commonly found at Japanese festivals, or matsuri. When these tasty noodles are thrown on a bun to make yakisobapan, it’s a carb-lover’s dream.
The French croquette was brought to Japan in the 80s. Korokkepan, another kind of stuffed bread, is essentially a Japanese-style croquette that’s served on a bun.
The croquette-like patty, or korokke, is made from ground meat and/or seafood, and vegetables like carrots, onions, and potatoes. It’s then covered in panko (Japanese-style bread crumbs) before being deep-fried. Korokkepan are extra tasty with a smear of mayo and some refreshing lettuce on top.
From kashipan to chouripan, Japan is home to a plethora of filled breads and buns. Both sweet and savory buns can be found at convenience stores and bakeries across Japan, making them a popular breakfast, lunch, and snack option for people on the go. Thanks to their wide range of fillings and flavors, there truly is a kashipan or chouripan for everyone.
See the cute and tasty treats you can find at a Japanese bakery!