Japanese popular culture. World renowned for Anime, Pokemon and Karaoke, and now, for Anpanman.
Anpanman, my favourite new pop culture phenomenon, is a superhero made of bread. His head is made from the popular treat Anpan, a bun stuffed with red bean paste.
He was created by the Japanese writer, Takashi Yanase. Takashi created him as a superhero that could also feed people after he dreamed of Anpan while serving as soldier in WWII.
He is by far the most popular children’s character in Japan, and with good reason. He and his friends – Shokupan man (white bread man), Currypan man, and Melonpannachan (Melon bread girl) save the world every episode from the evil Baikinman (germ man).
After a long day of stopping whatever Baikinman was planning, Anpanman often feeds the victims of Baikinmans crimes with pieces of his own head. Don’t worry dear friends, because as soon as Anpanman returns home, his head is replaced with a new one baked by Uncle Jam.
I recently visited the Anpanman museum in Kochi, and it was crazy. Hundreds of toddlers running around screaming ‘ANPANMAN!!’ I am bringing home one of his comics translated in English, and am so excited to share it with the uninitiated. A superhero. Made of Bread!
How to: take the JR to Tosu-Yamada, and then take the Bus to the museum. You can’t miss the bus, it is painted all over with Anpanman characters. It only leaves twice an hour, costs 600 yen and is 25 minutes long, but it’s well worth it for this hilarious slice of Japan.