My coworkers occassionally bring these tasty rice crackers to share for coffee break. These, they said, are mostly sold in Tokyo, but the factory is just a few minutes away from our workplace in Hanno, Saitama, and they are sold very cheap.
Last Saturday, I decided to look for the factory. True enough, it was only an easy 12 minute drive from our workplace. The complex is huge and set in the industrial part of Hanno past the Iruma River.
We pulled into the parking lot and my kids recognized Kamakyuu's delivery truck. It had a nostalgic looking drawing of a child munching on a seaweed topped rice cracker. We often see this truck pass by our house! So this was where the senbei was made!
The outlet shop is quite small but packed with a variety of senbei and non-senbei snacks. Kamakyuu's representative product is okoge senbei, rice crackers inspired by the crispy burnt rice at the bottom of old rice cookers (nowadays, it is impossible to burn the rice unless your rice cooker has an okoge setting). Aside from okoge, there are senbei of various shapes and flavors. The company has also ventured into making other snacks and confectioneries such as bean cakes, dried fruits, traditional candies, and baum cakes. All are sold at deeply discounted prices.
Kamakyuu has been making rice crackers or senbei using traditional methods for over 80 years. The company started in 1927 in Tokyo, but moved the factory to Saitama in 1966 in search of high quality water necessary for production. At the factory outlet shop in Hanno Saitama, you can get their products at huge discounts.
The factory outlet store is open everyday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Every Saturday and Sunday, odd and broken pieces of rice crackers are on sale. These are so popular they are quickly sold out.