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Nothing half-baked about this festival

by Jun Hongo

Staff Writer

Bread in Japan has an unusual history in terms of its introduction.

In the mid-19th century, Tannan Egawa, a superintendent of the Edo Shogunate based in the Izu area, was in charge of administering the region’s coastal defense and keeping Western countries from infiltrating the nation’s border. Inspired by the portable rations he had seen used by Western armies, Egawa ordered a team of his men to bake bread for his troops in April 1842. It was the first hard bread ever to be baked in Japan, and Egawa is known today as the Pan-so, or the “originator of bread.”

To celebrate the beginnings of the bread industry, the city of Izunokuni is hosting its eighth annual Pan-so no Pan Matsuri (Bread Festival by the Bread Originator), a two-day event at the Nirayama Bunka Center. In addition to enjoying the finest breads baked by bakeries from across the country, visitors can compete in dough-rolling contests and take bread-baking lessons.

High school students from all corners of Japan will also compete for the title of the best baker of the festival.

The Pan-so no Pan Matsuri takes place at Nirayama Bunka Center in Izunokuni on Jan. 18 and 19 from 10 a.m to 2:30 p.m. Entrance is free but the cost of breads and other attractions vary. For more information visit www.city.izunokuni.shizuoka.jp/kankou/event/panmaturi.html.