Today, I got this souvenir from the principal of the school where I work...
This is a "manju", a type of Japanese confection. But that's not I want to highlight here. Take a look at the pic of the guy on the plastic.
It's a cartoonised Shinzo Abe, the current Japanese prime minister.
This manju is sold at a souvenir shop outside Tokyo's Yasukuni Shrine. Japanese prime ministers' visits to the shrine have been a source of conflict between Japan and its neighbours China and South Korea, because Japanese World War 2 Class A criminals are enshrined there.
Anyway, you'll notice two birds in the picture too. What is their significance here?
Well, as I had mentioned in the article on Traditional Japanese New Year Period Food
, the Japanese are very fond of word play. You gotta understand this first...
Now, in the recent general election in Japan, Shinzo Abe's Liberal Democratic Party's slogan was "Restore Japan" (nihon wo tori
"Bird" in Japanese is called "tori". 鳥
Get it now?
Oh, and the Shin-chan (Little Shin) manju comes in two flavors. According to the principal, this souvenir is very popular...
And the taste? Like any other generic manju that's sold everywhere.
Japan never ceases to amaze me.