CULTURE & ORIGINS
What is Taiyaki?
The most literal translation of taiyaki is fried fish! Tai (sea bream) is a type of fish often considered king among fish in Japan, and yaki can mean fried, baked, or grilled. In our case, we bake our taiyaki!
Taiyaki and its origins can be traced back hundreds of years ago to the Edo Period (1600s to 1800s). Before taiyaki took its shape, taiyaki was first imagawayaki, a round-shaped cake similarly served warm and filled with azuki sweet red bean paste.
During this era, under the shogun rule founded by Tokugawa Ieyasu, tai was some of the most highly prized seafood and was presented as a gift to the shogun himself. To this very day, tai is still incorporated into Japan's food culture and way of life. It is customary to hang a picture of tai at the entrance to a home or shrine, and tai-shaped pastries are often given as thank-you gifts to guests at wedding parties as a common gesture of celebration and luck.
In addition to good luck, the Japanese word tai is similar and closely associated with the Japanese word medetai, meaning auspicious, prosperous, or happy. Medetai fish is can be referred to as taiyaki.
During the springtime, red-tinted tai, also known as madai (true tai), can be found throughout Japanese waters. Similar to colors of sakura (cherry blossoms), their symbolic meanings are closely knit and hold special significance in Japanese culture and traditions.