The Arashi Effect! Huge Queues Form for Namadorayaki
What are namadorayaki, and why are they so popular?
Shichiku in northern Kyoto is a quiet residential area, so eyebrows were raised when long queues began to form on the street. The reason: Oboroya Zuindo, a Japanese confectionery (wagashi) store that opened in 2009. Ever since its signature namadorayaki (“fresh dorayaki”) were featured on popular band Arashi’s TV program Arashi ni Shiyagare on January 28th, customers from inside and outside Kyoto have flocked to the store daily, forming lines even before it opens in the morning.
Above: Namadorayaki in two flavors: black sesame (left) and matcha (right). Other flavors include azuki bean jam and, when in season, strawberry, pumpkin, sweet potato, and more. 340 JPY each. Photo by Kunihiro Fukumori
“The line starts forming an hour before we open, and we sell out within an hour after opening. We want as many people to try namadorayaki as possible, so for the moment we are limiting sales to one per customer,” says Kawamura Yukihito, Oboroya Zuindo’s owner. Namadorayaki have always been popular, selling out soon after lunch, but speaking with Kawamura, it becomes obvious that the Arashi effect was even bigger than expected.
It’s not surprising that people would want to try namadorayaki once word of them got out. Although they contain 5 cm (100 g) of fresh cream, like most wagashi they aren’t too sweet to be enjoyed in one sitting. “When we found ourselves with leftover fresh cream, we tried adding a thick layer to our dorayaki and found the result to be delicious, so we started selling them,” says Kawamura. It seems that the big challenge was finding a way to maintain the softness of the cream while still keeping the whole thing from collapsing.
Above: Two high school students with their successfully purchased namadorayaki. They came all the way from Osaka after seeing the TV program. “I had read about the store before in a magazine, but the show made me decide to pay a visit,” says M.N. (left). “My hands are numb from lining up since 8:00!” adds A.H. (right).
Many of those lining up are, as you might expect, women. Most, however, aren’t necessarily Arashi fans. “I did hear about the store on Arashi’s show, but it was the look of the namadorayaki that I fell in love with,” they say. Some came all the way from Tokyo! And every so often, someone towards the back of the line prays aloud that the namadorayaki won’t sell out before they reach the front.
Hours: 9:00 A.M.–7:00 P.M. (closed Tuesdays)
Address: 43 Shichiku Kamitakedono-cho, Kita Ward, Kyoto43
Telephone: +81 (0)75-491-6011
Reporting/writing: Ai Kiyabu