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!
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: