One of the pleasures of strolling Yanasen is eating around. Kikumi Senbei has kept the way of handmaking senbei with sharp soy sauce taste.
Kikumi Senbei was established in 1875 at Dangozaka. At the time, Dangozaka was crowded with people coming and seeing Kiku Ningyo which is life-sized doll dressed with kiku (chrysanthemum) flowers and leaves. The gardeners in this area made elaborate dolls to compete in skill, and it gained countrywide popularity.
Kikumi Senbei started to make senbei as a souvenir of seeing Kiku Ningyo. The characteristic of Kikumi Senbei is its square shape.
The owner, Yoshiyuki Amano says, “Ten-en-chi-ho is a Chinese origin view of the universe that considers the heaven is round and the earth is square. Square represents the earth and the people living there. So, the founder of this shop wished the senbei to be loved by many people and thought of making senbei square. At the time there was no square-shaped senbei, so it became very popular.”
Kikumi Senbei is not only square. But also, the ingredients and recipe have not changed for 145 years. Its crunchy texture and rich soy sauce taste are Edokko’s preference. When you see senbei displayed in the old-fashioned glass case, you might be excited.
Today, they have four kinds of senbei, classic “Shoyu (soy sauce) Senbei,” “Cha Senbei” with full of Ujimatcha, exquisitely sweet and salty “Ama Senbei”, and spicy “Togarashi Senbei,” and also, seven kinds of arare. All of them are handmade one by one in the factory at the back of the shop. Sometimes they make seven or eight thousand pieces of senbei in a day.
There are assortment box and gift box. But the ones sold individually are suitable for eating around. They may be your best partner for strolling around Dangozaka.
Jan. 2020 Text: Ryoko Kuraishi Photo: Yasuo Yamaguchi