Iizuka Seimaiten is a quaint onigiri (rice ball), store located in the quiet backstreets of Meguro near Gakugei-daigaku Station. Close to this area are an abundance of design and furniture stores along Meguro dori, so stopping here for breakfast or a snack before a shopping expedition is a good idea. Great as a snack, onigiri are not too filling but worth sampling as a quintessential traditional Japanese food.
Onigiri are ubiquitous in Japan, available in konbini, (Convenience stores), supermarkets and train stations, but at specialty stores like Iizuka Seimaiten, the rice is definitely the star. In recent years, onigiri have been elevated to Michelin Bib Gourmand status, demonstrating the level of skill and attention that these seemingly simple snacks require to make. This store is part rice shop and part onigiri store and has been in operation for more than 60 years.
The shop is known for their award winning rice, which is a special organic blend and pesticide free. The special technique used allows the rice to stay delicious and soft even when cold. The shop is so popular that there are reports that they sell 400 onigiri each day. There are a variety of different onigiri fillings offered including simple salted rice (shio musubi), ikura, takana (pickled mustard greens), tarako (cod roe), karaage, tuna miso, salmon, and uni-kurage (uni and jellyfish). The salted rice is recommended to taste the quality of the rice alone. Brown rice or grilled rice balls are also available, as are inari sushi (rice in a sweet tofu pouch).
The onigiri can be purchased to go as there are no seats available for dining on the premises. The staff are friendly and there is an English menu detailing the different fillings. Prices are cheap, around 130 yen for each onigiri. The store is open from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. every day except Sundays and holidays.
The closest station is Gakugei-daigaku station. Exit from the East side of the station and the shop is five minutes away.
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I first visited Japan in 2001 and since then have returned many times. With the efficiency and reliability of its transportation, the graciousness of the people, and the dedication to quality in food and service, Japan has been my standard for modern travel convenience. Every return has reminded me of the remarkable depth and diversity of the country with no two trips being alike, despite retracing steps through familiar neighborhoods. The constant dynamism of the urban centers combined with the emphasis on tradition, sense of aesthetics, and attention to detail make it one of the most exciting places to visit and an inexhaustible land for novel experiences, modern and ancient.