215 years ago, in the middle of the Edo Period, a new senbei (rice cracker) store opened its doors in Gyoranzaka, Shiba. Famed for its careful attention to each individual cracker, eventually the store moved across town to become Ginza Matsuzaka Senbei, now in the hands of its eighth generation of leadership. As the Reiwa Era begins, Ginza Matsuzaka Senbei remains beloved for classic products like O-Edo Matsuzaki shami-do kawara senbei—“roof tile” (kawara) crackers made from wheat, egg, and sugar for a classic, unpretentious taste, made with a slightly rounded oblong shape like the body (do) of a shamisen (Japanese lute) and decorated with motifs of seasonal flora and scenes from old Edo.
Without abandoning its traditional roots, Ginza Matsuzaki Senbei has not been shy of embracing change to keep pace with the times, from a brand renewal in 2007 to a new café opened in 2016 in Shoin-Jinjamae, Setagaya. Control of the company passed to the eighth generation in 2018, and this spring saw the unveiling of Ginza Matsuzaka Senbei’s first package redesign in twelve years as well as the addition of seven new products to the company’s permanent lineup.
Sets of assorted senbei that previously came in tin cans will now be sold in cardboard packaging, making them lighter and easier to carry as gifts, as well as reducing costs. The traditional slogan on the front “Cracker by cracker/Give it your all/And never slack off” will be replaced by a simpler design featuring only the line “Cracker by cracker,” in order to better convey the company’s attitude toward their wares. Mindful of the effect on the environment, the company will also be switching some trays inside its packaging from plastic to cardboard—the kind of change that only a trusted store with a long history could pull off.
Edo Arare Kamogami are small, light rice crackers made from glutinous mochigome and uruchigome rice that is selected with care each year. ¥3,240 JPY for set of 12 boxes (including tax)
As well as package designs, Ginza Matsuzaki Senbei is taking bold new steps in terms of flavor. Its best-known product, “Edo Soka: Honmaru,” now comes in new miso and zarame (crystal sugar) flavors, making six varieties in all.
The Edo Soka Honmaru series, baked with care to bring out the delicious savor of uruchigome, could be said to embody Ginza Matsuzaki Senbei’s founding principle of “Cracker by cracker, give it your all.” This spring’s new product line includes Edo Arare Kamogami, in boxes for easy gifting, and Oedo Matsuzaki Kurokoshi, kawara senbei with chocolate mixed into the dough. With seven new products in all, a rich variety of senbei flavors are represented.
Ginza Matsuzaki Senbei may have moved its headquarters from Ginza 4-chome to 5-chome and modernized its storefront, but its flavor and manufacturing techniques preserve the traditions of 200 years ago, even as the company keeps pace with the sensibilities of the times. As long as Tokyoites retain their taste for senbei, Ginza Matsuzaki Senbei’s evolution is sure to continue apace.
◆Ginza Matsuzaki Senbei: 7 new products, including miso-flavored Edo Soka Honmaru
Ginza Matsuzaki Senbei Main Store
Ginza F.S. Building, 5-6-9 Ginza, Chuo, Tokyo
・ Edo Arare Kamogami: Set of 8 boxes, ¥2,160; set of 12 boxes, ¥3,240
・ Edo Soka Honmaru: 5 crackers in miso or zarame flavor, ¥702
・ O-Edo Matsuzaki Koshi or Kurokoshi: 6 crackers, ¥432
・ Edo Soka Abare: 10 crackers in wasabi or sansho (Japanese pepper) flavor, ¥324
Note: All prices include tax
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