Sweets and Sembei in Narita City
Japanese snacks come in all sizes, shapes, colors, textures, and flavors. Along the spectrum lie two quite distinct yet equally enjoyable treats: sembei (rice crackers) and Japanese confectionary sweets. The former is often salty, sometimes sweet, while the latter is usually as flavorful as sugar can be.
Along Omotesando Street in Narita City, visitors will encounter both. Visitors of the large sweets emporium, Nagomi No Yoneya, will be pleasantly taken aback by the vast variety of traditional cakes, jellies, and cookies. To accompany the various sweets out for tasting, tea is offered free of charge. While the building may be modern and complete with a café, its products preserve an artistry of the past. From individually wrapped bites for one to boxed sets perfect as gifts, there is something for every recipient and every taste at Nagomi No Yoneya.
In stark contrast with the sweets mega-store, visitors can also find tiny, old-fashioned store fronts offering hand-made rice crackers on the way to the temple. Freshly baked, these crackers are distinctly more flavorful than their supermarket counterparts. One in particular, infused with seaweed and coated with sweet soy sauce, was particularly savory. Plate-sized sembei are also available, if one dares take on the challenge of eating it all in one sitting.
Another small shop, taken from decades ago and transplanted into modernity it seems, featured a sitting man painting each sembei individually with matcha (green tea) sugar in careful strokes. Watching him was relaxing, like watching an artist create his work. The masterpiece? Crunchy, freshly baked rice crackers with a sweet aftertaste, perceptible for just another few seconds of enjoyment before it too is gone.
[posted by Nadia]