Hello, this is the staff of The Gate Hotel Ryogoku. Today, I’m going to introduce Azuma Arare, a long-established store of arare and okaki (types of Japanese rice crackers), which has a history of over 110 years since its establishment in 1910 (Meiji 43).
What are Azuma Arare?
History of Azuma Arare
Azuma Arare was founded by Masuemi Kobayashi, a charcoal and rice wholesaler, who changed the name to Azuma Arare when he took over his business partner’s arare and okaki business, Edo Arare, at the current location of the main store. The name Azuma Arare was given in the hope of the development of the east as opposed to Kyoto (west), which includes Edo.
Later, the company was completely destroyed by fire during the earthquake and war, but it recovered and resumed business, expanding its operations to include manufacturing, wholesale, and mail-order sales. With that, the factory was relocated to Yachiyo City, Chiba Prefecture, and a store was opened in Kikugawa as well.
In 2003, the Ryogoku main store was expanded to include an okaki-age workshop, where customers can watch hokusai-age being fried through a glass window. The shop is certified as a manufacturing shop by Sumida Ward.
A manufacturing store is a store that integrates a factory or workshop where products are manufactured and a store where they are sold.
Access to the store
The Ryogoku main store is an 11-minute walk from The Gate Hotel Ryogoku. If you come by train, it is a 10-minute walk from the East Exit of Ryogoku Station on the JR Sobu Line or a 5-minute walk from Exit A3 of Ryogoku Station on the Toei Oedo Line.
Located along Hokusai Street, near the Sumida Hokusai Museum, it is a good place to pick up souvenirs on your way home from the museum.
Azuma Arare’s commitment
Azuma Arare is committed to both learning from the past and maintaining the consistency of its flavor. This is why it is loved by many people. They embrace new trends while maintaining the classics.
Their commitment to rice, the core of making arare (rice crackers) and okaki (rice crackers)
Azuma Arare’s arare and okaki are made mainly from two kinds of glutinous rice.
The first is Himeno-mochi rice. The second is Miyakogane-mochi, the king of glutinous rice produced in Miyagi Prefecture. This variety is white, smooth, sticky, and rich in flavor, making it ideal for use in rice cakes and okowa.
The contract growers are located in Nakayama Town, Yamagata Prefecture, which has a unique basin climate with temperature differences, abundant water from the Mogami River, and fertile clay soil, all of which make for an ideal environment for rice cultivation.
Although there are rolling hills in the west, the town area is almost entirely flat, and because there are no rice fields in the mountains, yields are high, and the rice harvest is said to be one of the highest in Japan.
Painstaking Manufacturing Process
The production process consists of steaming glutinous rice, pounding the rice with a mallet, rolling out the glutinous rice, placing it in a mold, cooling and hardening it, cutting the glutinous rice into thin slices, drying it, baking it, seasoning it, etc. The secret to its delicious taste lies here.
For example, all steamed rice cake is pounded with a mallet, and the rice cake is stretched by hand to improve the texture.
Azuma Arare’s popular product lineup
This product was created in response to a request from an airline company for a tea snack to be enjoyed on board.
It is Azuma Arare’s signature product, packed with seven different flavored rice crackers, including nori okaki, kombu okaki, and zarame okaki, and is delightfully delicious and prevents you from getting tired of a single flavor.
You can enjoy five kinds of okaki filled with the bounty of the mountains and sea brought in from the Sumida River, such as Ryogoku-maki rolled with plenty of Ariake laver and Onihei a chopped laver okaki named after Heizo Hasegawa, the local Onihei of Ryogoku. The Ryogoku Bridge over the Sumida River, the bridge reflected in the water, and a flock of birds in the design are included in the bag, making it a perfect souvenir from Ryogoku.
Both the deep-fried Hokusai-age and the baked Hokusai Okaki are made from the aforementioned Miyagi Prefecture’s glutinous rice, Miyakogane mochi. The former are fried crispy in compatible rice oil and come in three flavors: salt, soy sauce, and Japanese curry. The latter are crispy fried in a baking oven and come in four flavors: salt, tamari soy sauce, shrimp salt, and yuzu zarame.
In honor of Hokusai, the packages are decorated with Hokusai’s masterpiece “Fugaku Sanjurokkei (Thirty-six views of Mt. Fuji)” and Hokusai’s cartoons.
At first glance, the modern design looks like it might contain cookies or other Western-style confections. The three bite-size rice crackers come in a variety of flavors, including pepperoncini, basil, and onion garlic, which would go well as a snack with alcoholic drinks.
In addition to these, there are also seasonal flavors and mail order-only assortments. These easy-to-eat okaki are sure to be a hit with anyone who gives them. Find your favorite series and enjoy!
- Name: Azuma Arare Ryogoku Honten
- Address: 2-15-10 Kamezawa, Sumida-ku, Tokyo 130-0014
- TEL: 03-3624-9733
- URL: https://www.azuma-arare.co.jp/
- Business hours: Weekdays 9:00-18:00, Weekends and holidays 10:00-18:00
- Closed: on the 3rd Monday of the month (except June, July, November, and December), New Year’s Day 1/1-3
*For the latest information on business hours, holidays, etc., please contact the store directly.