If anyone can make Tohoku smile, the candy man can

January 10, 2012

By TERUTO UNUMA / Staff Writer

A group of confectioneries whose offices and factories are located in the six prefectures that form the Tohoku region will be selling a joint packaged set to show solidarity in support of reconstruction from the Great East Japan Earthquake.

"We decided that it was crucial that Tohoku come together as one right now to overcome difficulties," said Shuhei Sasaki, head of Ragueneau Sasaki, which produces various pastries that use Aomori's trademark apples.

Sasaki called upon fellow colleagues in the trade to join the project and began preparations in June last year.

The colorfully packaged set called "Michinoku-shu" (Distant province), features dainty morsels developed specially for the joint effort by six companies: Hirosaki, Aomori Prefecture-based Ragueneau Sasaki Inc.; Yuzawa, Akita Prefecture-based Kurata Co.; the Kamaishi, Iwate Prefecture plant of Matsudo, Chiba Prefecture-based Granver; Kotobuki Sanshokumonaka Honpo Ltd. of Natori, Miyagi Prefecture; Kineya Inc. of Kaminoyama, Yamagata Prefecture; and Kashiwaya Co. of Koriyama, Fukushima Prefecture.

Many of the participating companies have been victimized by the compounded disaster of the March 11 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear power plant accident.

Granver's plant in Kamaishi had to suspend operations for a month due to power outages.

Many workers at the plant either died or had family members who were killed in the quake and tsunami.

Kashiwaya saw its sales drop by 70 percent on a year-on-year basis due largely to a drop in tourism to Fukushima Prefecture following the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant accident.

The resulting product combines ingenuity with local specialties. Aomori touts a hotate (scallop) pie, while Akita boasts its Akita komachi (brand rice) crunch.

From Miyagi is the Sendai miso sable, and from Yamagata is the la France (pear) manju. Fukushima's Kashiwaya took another look at its hit product usukawa manju, thin steamed buns, and created a filling with chocolate instead of the usual bean paste. And Iwate came up with rusk, a sweet Melba toast-like confection.

"It won't help for a confection maker, whose job is to create products that soothe people's souls, to be down," said a representative of the steering committee, which organized the joint drive.

The set, which will go on sale Jan. 11, is priced at 1,500 yen ($19.50).

By TERUTO UNUMA / Staff Writer
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The Michinoku-shu set of confections made in Tohoku's six prefectures (Provided by the steering committee for Michinoku-shu)

The Michinoku-shu set of confections made in Tohoku's six prefectures (Provided by the steering committee for Michinoku-shu)

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  • The Michinoku-shu set of confections made in Tohoku's six prefectures (Provided by the steering committee for Michinoku-shu)

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