Exactly when can you get it, and how early do you need to show up? We find out.
As soon as we saw the first promotional photos of the cat-shaped bread being offered by the Blue Jin bakery in Japan, we gave it a special spot on the SoraNews24 “buy this stuff and eat it” calendar that dictates so much of the rhythm of our personal and professional lives. However, given that Japan has a deep love for both cute animals and special foodstuffs, we knew there’d be plenty of competition for these prized pussycat baked goods from other people wanting to try them for themselves.
So we did a bit of homework ahead of the May 26 debut date for the Ironeko Bread, as the cat-shaped bread is officially called. First we found out that Blue Jin bakes only 40 loaves a day, split between two batches that both come out of the oven in the afternoon. After a little more digging, we learned that the first batch goes on sale at 1 p.m., and the second two hours later at 3.
Armed with this information, we rolled into the lobby of the Hotel New Hankyu Osaka, which also houses Blue Jin. It was a little before noon when we arrived, and right away we spotted a large sign informing potential customers of the times when they can purchase the Ironeko Bread.
We also saw a line, more than a dozen people long, stretching from the store’s entrance, even though there were more than 60 minutes to go until any of us would be getting our hands on the cat bread. We did a head count and breathed a sigh of relief when we found that we were 18th in line, since the one-cat-bread-loaf-per-person policy meant we wouldn’t be going home empty-handed.
While waiting in line, you’ll be handed a card, which you give to the clerk at the register to receive your bread.
We did so, and after handing over 350 yen (US$3.15), we finally had what we’d come for!
Resisting the urge to take a bit right then and there in the lobby, we instead brought the bread home to photograph it. Rest assured – it’s every bit as adorable as the promotional pictures has led us to believe.
In all our excitement over how cute the Ironeko Bread looks, we’d forgotten that the way it’s made is pretty special too. The dough is kneaded in hot water, which gelatinizes the starches in the flour. The result is a tremendously soft texture with an airy chewiness, and just a little extra firmness at the cat’s ears.
The gelatinized starches give the bread a nice sweetness, but if you’re finding yourself craving more intense flavors, the Ironeko Bread is practically begging to be decorated with chocolate, jam, or other colorful edible accouterments.
From our blank canvas sprang forth…
…Yo-kai Watch’s Jibanyan…
…and Madara, from anime/manga Natsume’s Book of Friends.
Our creations tasted great, proving that the Ironeko Bread is a pleasure to look at and to eat in both original and personally customized forms. With such cute versatility at such an affordable price, demand is likely to outstrip supply for a long time, so if you’re planning to buy some on a weekday (like we did) we’d recommend going to Blue Jin 90 minutes ahead of time, and going even earlier if you’re making your cat bread run on the weekend.
Blue Jin / ブルージン
Located inside Hotel New Hankyu Osaka / 大阪新阪急ホテル
Address: Osaka-fu, Osaka-shi, Kita-ku, Shibata 1-1-35
Open 8 a.m.-10 p.m.
[ Read in Japanese ]