Festival touts Kobe’s claim as home of stollen in Japan

Courtesy of Hyogo Stollen Union

Products made by Hyogo Stollen Union members

By Ryutaro Fujii/Yomiuri Shimbun Staff WriterKOBE — As Christmas approaches, about 40 bakeries are selling their versions of stollen, a traditional German fruit bread, at a first-ever event in Kobe.

A popular bread for the period before Christmas, stollen originated in Germany. It was first introduced in Japan in Kobe and ultimately spread throughout the nation.

At the Hyogo Stollen Fest 2018, the first event of its kind in Japan, visitors can compare the creations of bakeries in Kobe and other cities in and outside Hyogo Prefecture. The event will be held through Christmas Eve.

“I want visitors to become more familiar with Kobe’s stollen culture,” a promoter of the event said.

From around early December — when people start preparing for Christmas — people in Germany traditionally share stollen with close friends and family, cutting a loaf into small pieces. Its fermentation continues over time, causing the same loaf to produce a variety of flavors.

Freundlieb in Chuo Ward, Kobe, was the first shop in Japan to make stollen. It has become the shop’s best-selling product since it opened in 1924, with Freundlieb baking about 40,000 stollen for the Christmas season.

The Hyogo Stollen Fest 2018 was co-organized by the Kobe Tourism Bureau and the Hyogo Stollen Union, which is composed of nine shops including Freundlieb.

In Germany, the qualifications for stollen are established by law: flour mixed with dried fruits equivalent to at least 60 percent of the amount of flour, and butter equivalent to at least 30 percent of the flour. Members of the Hyogo union are baking stollen in much the same way.

“I hope many people will enjoy eating stollen, and we want to continue [holding this kind of event] as a seasonal Kobe tradition,” said Yoshitsune Heinrich Uehara, the union’s representative.

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