When people ask me what I miss about living in Japan, I honestly tell them, “Anpan!” — the perfect bun filled with sweetened bean paste!
Anpan was a major discovery when I was an exchange student in Tokyo in the early 1980s—the perfect fusion of a Western-style bread and Japanese-style sweets. In the 2010s, I was able to find “decent” anpan in Beijing and Shanghai, and “pretty good but quite expensive” anpan in Honolulu but have yet to find a “good” anpan on Maui!
So visiting Tokyo recently, I had to buy this anpan from a local store but…didn’t actually eat it for a couple of days. Don’t get me wrong, it ended up being a “great” anpan (because Yamazaki is the “Nabisco” of Japan) but like many things in life, “it wasn’t as good as I remember…” Obviously, my taste buds and dietary preferences have changed over time.
In reflection, I realize that it was the “idea” of anpan more than the taste, it was the anticipation, the memories of my youth coming back to me, but the true appeal was that I could simply walk down the street and buy an anpan anytime I please!
“Still self-centered after all these years.”
Of all things, I found truth in anpan!