The Chikuhô region, which centers around present-day Iizuka City, was once the most productive coal producing area in Japan. Following defeat in the Pacific War, Chikuhô saw a large influx of people as it was one of the few areas that had jobs at a time when Japan was suffering from the devastation of its industries.
Thanks to the large number of men working in the coal mines, the region developed a reputation for its rough-and-tumble way of life. To say the least, the nights were always exciting in Chikuhô.
In the region's heyday, a number of confectioners set up business in town. Three of these, Sakaeya, Chidoriya, and Matsuo Confections, have become major companies with brands that are known throughout Japan today.
We'd like to take this time to introduce some of these company's more popular products.
Namban Ôrai (lit., passing of the "southern barbarians" i.e. foreigners) is a famous confection made with almond flour wrapped in a crispy pie and containing a jam filling in the bottom. We recommend the raspberry jam ones.
Probably the most famous of the three sweets maker, Chidoriya produces a number of Japanese and German-style confections. They have more than three dozen shops located throughout Fukuoka prefecture. Our favorite item from Chidoriya product line is the Tirolian cookie which is filled with vanilla, coffee, and strawberry creme. We often snacked on this when we were small children.
There probably isn't a single Japanese person who doesn't know Tirol chocolates. Its tiny package is not only cute, but the huge variety of chocolates and fillings available, as well as it's price--each chocolate only costs about ten yen--have made this product a long-seller.
Written by Matsuo W Choco, edited by Aonghas Crowe