Setsubun Wagashi: Oni-ni-Kanabo from Kyoto Confectionery Sentaro

At Setsubun, people in Japan are thinking eho-maki sushi rolls, grilled sardine and roasted soybeans to prevent misfortune and increase happiness. No one thinks of wagashi. Sentaro, a shinise confectionery in Kyoto, made their own unique and tasty Setsubun demon theme roll, but you don’t get sushi from a confectionery, it’s a wagashi roll! Its quite long and comes wrapped in a red, demon decorated paper tube.

Setsubun Wagashi: Oni ni Kanabo 京都 仙太郎 鬼金棒

Oni-ni-Kanabo 'Demon Roll' - Package

Oni ni Kanabo Mushi-pan Roll from Sentaro 京都 仙太郎 鬼に金棒
This confection is called Oni-ni-kanabo 鬼に金棒. Oni is a demon in Japanese culture and kanabo 金棒 is a metal pole that the demon carries around. It comes from a Japanese saying. Demons are very strong and scary and the metal pole (beating stick), in the hands of a fierce demon is very strong combination indeed. To be in the ‘oni-ni-kanabo’ position is to be stronger than strong, is to have an unbeatable advantage, a double advantage, unbeatable combination. That is the background on where the name and shape comes from. So, how about the taste?

Setsubun Wagashi: Oni ni Kanabo 京都 仙太郎 鬼金棒

Oni-ni-Kanabo 'Demon Roll' - Cut and Served

This novel confection is a long ‘pole’ of azuki bean paste (anko) that has been wrapped in a sheet of kokuto 黒糖 ‘black sugar’ mushi-pan ‘steamed bread’. It not only makes a convincing pole, it is really tasty! Sentaro has been mentioned a number of times on KyotoFoodie, way back in March of 2008, we introduced Sentaro’s rice flour kasutera (castella) which is otherworldly in texture and and subtlety of flavor. So, you can be sure that Sentaro has just the right touch for ‘bready’ wagashi.

I am usually not a fan of anko because it is too sweet or there is too much in wagashi confections, but the anko that makes the core of this demon roll is modest in quantity and sweetness. The kokuto mushi-pan makes it over-the-top for me. From the taste it would certainly seem that they didn’t skimp on kokuto, it has a huge and full taste of this wonderfully earthy and natural sugar and the texture of the mushi-pan made me think that it must have some kind of fairy dust sprinkled into it. As I ate it, the texture conjured up images of sylphs in fairyland, floating about, eating this impossibly light and fluffy steamed bread that is also moist and dense with flavor. Wow. That’s a Kyoto shinise for you! (A good one, that is, there are plenty of crappy ones.)

Packaging and Environment
I have complained about excessive packaging that is often synonymous with wagashi but this demon roll uses a modest (comparatively speaking, this is Japan) amount of resources in the packaging. It is just one layer of plastic wrap for hygiene and one piece of paper for the label. The paper the label printed on is white, I suppose they could have used unbleached paper.

Reference and Links
Discussion of the meaning and various translation of Oni-ni-kanabo on

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2 Responses to “Setsubun Wagashi: Oni-ni-Kanabo from Kyoto Confectionery Sentaro”

  1. […] the holly leaf are very frightening to theme. Put these two together, you have a double whammy, an oni-ni-kanabo. Iwashi Hiiragi Just Installed on […]

  2. Nils von Barth says:

    Thanks for the great tip! – passed by and got one (they have it again this year) and it is, as promised, delicious (as are the rest of the 和菓子 at 仙太郎, at least those I’ve tried).

    There is an amusing picture of an 鬼 with a 金棒 over at Wikipedia/Wikimedia Commons (very threatening-looking):

    …and I found another 恵方巻-inspired 和菓子 (this one a かす巻) at アイハート over on 堀側! (From 島原市 – this one still tasty, but much sweeter.)

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