Translated by Lester Somera
When In Kamakura Enjoy Japan-Only Baked Goods At Toshimaya
Written by Naoko Matsumoto
The staple Kamakura souvenir is the Hato Sable cookie from Toshimaya, but did you know that Toshimaya also has a bakery in front of Kamakura Station?
Kamakura’s best-known souvenir is the Hato Sable, a dove-shaped shortbread cookie. Get off at Kamakura Station and you’re sure to see many tourists clutching yellow bags that say “Hato Sable” on the label.
Hato Sable is the most famous product of Toshimaya, a Japanese sweets maker that has been in business in Kamakura for more than 120 years.
The Tobira branch of Toshimaya is located in front of Kamakura Station. Renovated in December 2014, it is the only Toshimaya branch that sells bread.
Bread Recommendations at the Famous Toshimaya Shop
Toshimaya doesn’t have much in the way of unusual bread items, but the shop’s bread is engineered in a way that is a result of its sweets-making roots, so you should definitely stop by when you come to Japan.
The bread to the side is a cube-shaped anpan bun, a contrast to the regular round ones. These cubes are filled with anko (*1) and gyu-hi (*2), both ingredients used in Japanese sweets, and can sell out in the afternoon. This popular item is a perfect match of firm dough and lightly sweet bean jam.
Try this Japanese treat for yourself.
*1 Anko: sweet red bean paste, made from mashed red beans, simmered with sugar. This sweet filling is commonly used in Japanese confectioneries.
*2 Gyu-hi: steamed glutinous rice flour, kneaded with sugar and starch syrup.
The croissants in front use the same butter as Hato Sable cookies. Toshimaya carefully selects the butter it uses for its products, so you can enjoy the croissants’ crisp texture and their rich, buttery aroma.
There are two unusual varieties here.
The round bread on the left is tako-pon, a unique item that tastes like takoyaki (*3) and contains octopus, beni-shouga (*4) and aonori (*5). The bread on the right is curry pon, which contains the Fukujinzuke pickles eaten with curry in Japan. It is not particularly spicy, and has a mild sweetness to its Japanese curry flavor.
Both items are Japan-only. The pon in “tako-pon” and “curry pon” is said to have been taken from the name of pão de queijo, the Brazilian baked good with which they share their addictive, fluffy texture.
All of the bread sold on the first floor is baked on the second floor at the Tobira branch.
*3 Takoyaki: flour dough balls filled with octopus, which are fried then basted in a sweet and spicy sauce.
*4 Beni-shouga: spicy pink or red pickled ginger slices are marinated in plum vinegar.
*5 Aonori: dried green seaweed crumbled into a powder, often used to top food like takoyaki.
Take a Break at the Dine-In Area on the Second Floor
You can bring your bread up to the dine-in area on the second floor, where drinks are also sold.
The dine-in area is open from 7:00-17:30 on weekdays and from 9:00-17:30 on weekends and holidays. It is often used by people stopping in during their commute, and by tourists taking a break.
The History of Toshimaya and Bread
When the Tobira branch of Toshimaya reopened in December 2014, the idea that a Japanese sweets shop would start selling bread was a surprise to local fans.
However, Toshimaya is not new to bread-making.
After World War II, when it was difficult to procure sugar, Toshimaya stopped making sweets and actually made bread for rations, but because of ingredient shortages, the owners thought they were unable to deliver quality bread to their customers at the time. The lingering desire to make delicious bread for its patrons is what led Toshimaya to renew their bread-making in 2014, and they have succeeded.
With its long history in Kamakura, Toshimaya has many devotees. When you visit Kamakura, drop by its Tobira branch and sample some of the bread, filled with care and consideration. “Tobira” means “door.” Step out the ‘door’ of Kamakura Station and it will be right in front of you.
Toshimaya, Tobira Branch
Address: Kanagawa, Kamakura, Komachi 1-6-20
Hours: 1F - Weekdays: 7:00-18:00 Weekends and holidays: 9:00-18:00
2F - Weekdays: 7:00-17:30 Weekends and holidays: 9:00-17:30
3F - 10:00-17:30, everyday
Credit cards: No
Nearest Station: Kamakura Station
Access: Ten minutes from Kamakura Station’s east exit
Price range: From 70 to 500 yen
Website: Toshimaya, Tobira branch