Thursday, July 22, 2021

On the Coffee Table: Yakitate!! Japan

Title: Yakitate!! Japan, Volume 1
Writer and Artist: Takashi Hashiguchi

via Amazon

Yakitate!! Japan is a food manga, originally published 2001-2007.  The protagonist Kazuma Azuma is young man out to convert the rice-loving Japanese to bread.  He wants to create Ja-Pan.  Pan is the Japanese word for bread, you see, and Kazuma feels the Japanese need a national bread like so many found in Europe.  A small town boy, he goes to Tokyo to follow his dreams.

It's fun - sort of like an inspiring sports story except it's about food.  His job interview is rather Great British Bake Off-like... or is it Iron Chef?  There's Kawachi, the goofy sidekick, and Tsukino, the (one presumes eventual) love interest who's also technically Kazuma's boss.  In the last chapter of this collection, we meet Matsushiro, the guru genius bakery manager.  He's a bit of a mess.  He'd be the Dennis Hopper character.  Kazuma even has a baking superpower: unnaturally warm hands that give him an advantage in kneading dough.

On top of it all, the text is genuinely informative about bread.

I'm definitely up for more.


  1. I looked up manga and I still not sure what it means. It's interesting that the character on the cover doesn't really look Japanese with his round eyes.


    1. Wait! Just saw your labels and now I understand what manga means.

    2. Ha! I guess I assumed too much by not explaining manga.

      As for the eyes... I feel obligated to point out that East Asians see more in their own appearance than the eye shape Westerners see. But I realize you probably already recognize that.

      Manga art is highly stylized and the large eyes - whatever shape - have long been a part of the tradition as they allow for a wide range of expression. There's a whole language within the language in manga facial expressions including particular tropes that a Japanese reader recognizes instantly but are baffling to anyone else: snot firing out of one nostril meaning excitement, for instance. The eyes are a crucial element in all of that.

    3. Thanks for the explanation about Manga.

  2. This sounds pretty cool. Thanks for sharing it. Will have to check it out.