I heard about this regional pack of Tirol on the Tirol Facebook page and a friend in Tokyo was kind enough to track it down and send some to me.
This Tirol is based around a Japanese sweet or "wagashi" called Ikinari Dango - a steamed bun with chunks of sweet potato in the dough, with anko (red bean) in the centre, a local specialty of Kumamoto.
The black bear featured on the wrapper is the mascot for Kumamoto and his name is Kumamon. "Kuma" is Japanese for bear.
I'm happy to be able to try both types of this Tirol. So lets start.
The chocolate on the outside is orangey-yellow and when I put it to my nose there is a strong smell of sweetness and something earthy. In the middle there are two layers, on the bottom is a dark yellow jelly and on the top is a red-brown paste. I'm certain the jelly is representing the sweet potato and the paste is the red bean component. I can really taste the red bean in this chocolate and it's very accurate in flavour and quite sweet. Unfortunately it kind of overruns the sweet potato which is a bit too subtle. The last flavour I can taste after eating is still the red bean.
This is quite pretty because it's a lavender coloured chocolate covering a white inside. There is only one layer inside this chocolate, a yellow jelly surrounded by a white chocolate which I think is meant to be the sweet potato. This has a much stronger flavour and the sweet potato is more apparent. There is no red bean to drown it out, so the flavour is loud and clear. There is some earthiness to this chocolate and I think some people might be put off by it. I really like it though.
I did like both of these chocolates even though the Satsuma-imo was not as strong on the sweet potato as I expected. I'm a big fan of red bean so I did enjoy this one a lot. The Murasaki-imo was bigger on the sweet potato with the exclusion of the red bean.
I've never actually tried Ikinari Dango but I can say after having these two Tirol I really want to try the real thing! Maybe I need to take a trip to Kumamoto! ;)
I would have to say I liked the Satsuma-imo the best, simply because I like the red bean. If you get a chance to try this I would very much recommend it. The colours and inside layers remind me very much of eating Japanese sweets so even if you're not usually a fan of these flavours I recommend them just for the experience and nostalgia :)