Japanese Sandwich, Fact or Myth?

I think having lived in Japan for a little over six months qualifies me to make the statement that for all intents and purposes, no sandwiches exist in Japan. You may see items that look like sandwiches, but don't bother, I tell you here and now, there are no sandwiches in Japan. Don't believe me? Okay smarty pants, take a close look at this:
Pathetic, no? Admittedly, this may be the worst case scenario, but other sandwich looking things in Japan are almost as bad. First off, you will not find a sandwich made on bread that isn't white and sweet. Second, if you find a sandwich containing meat, there will only be one thin slice of it. Hold it up to the light, and you'll be able to see right through it. Don't get me wrong, I love just about all other Japanese food, but I dare say, sandwiches are not Japanese, and simply should not be part of Japans goodie bag!
And here's something REALLY interesting. The Portuguese introduced baked bread to Japan many years ago when Japan was still a very poor country. Left to their own devices, would-be Japanese bakers made their bread with what ever they had available to them, like Azuki (sweet beans). A good reason the bread is rather on the sweet side.
But like Americans, parents in Japan sometimes have to resort to coaxing children into eating unfamiliar things, in this case bread, and I can see why. They coax their kids using super-heros just like we do here in America, and Japan's number one super-hero among children 2 to 5 years old over the past 40 or 50 years has been "Anpan-man". Get this: The word Anpan translates to a baked sandwich! Who knew? Here's what Anpanman looks like:

Unlike American super-heros, Japans are very cutsie looking. Animated characters like The Simpsons would never fly there, they just don't have the right look. Anpanman's character is that of a good guy, a very sweet do-gooder. And by the way, here's another piece of trivia; you will never see a four-fingered Japanese cartoon character. Why? Because having four-fingers is a huge turn-off to Japanese people. It's a sign of shame having to do with the Yakuza (Japanese mafia) many of whom are missing their pinky fingers. A price for doing something bad, yikes!


  1. Thanks for the education, I won't be having sandwiches or exposed fingers in Japan any time soon. Stopping over from SITS to "meet" you. Your blog is brilliant! Good job.

  2. It's the same in China! I mean, of course they try to emulate things like burgers but it's not even close.

    I got home and ate grilled cheese for a week.

  3. Thanks for the warning! If I ever make it to Japan I will avoid the "sandwiches"!

    And thank you for stopping by on my SITS day!

  4. You are on the cusp my dear! Just last week Dateline or one of those shows did a whole piece on the Yakuza!

  5. Thanks friends. I love you.

  6. What? Are you serious? Japanese sandwiches are the BEST!!!!
    I've been to Japan for more than 20 times and every time me and my family HAVE to eat a Jap sandwich at least once every other day -- they are just soooo GOOD! None of the weird (American) one piece of bread with 10 slices of ham and two slices of cheese crap (where's the balance?!?!? Every time I eat a sandwich in the States I need to pull 80% of the fillings out....)
    Actually Jap sandwiches are so popular that they are like the trend in Taiwan, Hong Kong, etc. now. Def super popular in Asia!

  7. Well "Anonymous" thanks for that. But I'd love to see proof. For what ever reason you've chosen to comment anonymously, so what you have to say on the matter holds little weight. Come on with it... show us what you know! Start by revealing who you are (or not) then send photos of these "jap" sandwiches (as you call them).. LOL.. We would all love to hear more from you (or not) Sam.


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