Yakitate!! Ja-pan (焼きたて!! ジャぱん) A Japanese Manga
Yakitate!! Ja-pan (焼きたて!! ジャぱん), meaning “Freshly Baked!! Ja-pan”, is a Japanese manga. The “pan” in the title also means “bread” in Japanese. The manga, authored by Takashi Hashiguchi focuses on Kazuma Azuma, a boy obsessed with making bread, including making bread in a rice cooker and on a quest to create “Ja-pan”, a national bread for Japan itself. He initially heads to Tokyo to expand his horizons at the bread-making chain Pantasia; the story continues with Azuma’s exploits with his other coworkers. The manga was serialized in Shogakukan’s Shōnen Sunday and was then later adapted into a television anime series. The manga spanned 25 tankōbon volumes. The anime series, broadcast on TV Tokyo and other local stations from October 2004 to March 2006, spanned a total of 69 episodes. The series won the 2004 Shogakukan Manga Award for best shōnen manga.
The title of this series itself is a play on words; Yakitate translates to “freshly baked”, but Ja-pan has a double meaning. Besides referring to the country of Japan, pan is the Japanese word for “bread”. Ja-pan is a pun for this series. This mimics the style of the names of other varieties of bread in Japanese, such as “furansupan” (French Bread), “doitsupan” (German rye-based bread), “itariapan” (Italian bread), etc.
Besides the desire to create his Ja-pan, Azuma also possesses the legendary Solar Hands (太陽の手, taiyō no te). These hands are warmer than normal human hand temperature, and allow the dough to ferment faster. This gives him some advantage at making bread at the beginning of the series, but his innovation is his greater talent in perfecting his bread recipes.
Although the story has baking bread as its main theme, the parts that generate the most interest are the outrageous puns in the story. Especially notable are the “reaction” based puns made by the judges, who go to great lengths to prove a single point about the bread recipes that they had tasted. The series in general also pokes fun at the shōnen genre’s tendency to be melodramatic over mundane tasks.
Of specific interest to us here at Rice Cooker Fetish is Yakitate!! Japan Book 2, in which Azuma is shown making bread in a rice cooker and which contains his recipe for baking bread in a rice cooker. This blogger posted it, her experiences making it, and a video clip showing how to make bread in a rice cooker. The video is in Japanese with English subtitles, check it out!
If you are interested in trying out new uses for your rice cooker, you may be interested in taking a look at our article on different ways to use your rice cooker, including making bread in your rice cooker, making cake, soups, stews and more – You can even make a pumpkin pie in a rice cooker! Also, be sure to check out our great rice cooker recipes. But if you’d like to catch up on your Japanese manga reading instead of cooking rice – you can find all the Yakitate!! Mangas here.
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