I was in Ginza at the beginning of March and was hungry, didn’t had time to drop in a cafe so decided to drop by at Kimuraya Ginza flagship store.
Kimuraya is famous for An-pan, a soft bread stuffed with sweeten Azuki beans. Their history goes way back to 1869, 154 yrs ago. Around 160 yrs ago, Japanese government started to open the country to accept foreigner therefore a lot of foreign culture bloomed in Japan. In Japan, they called this Bummei Kaika (文明開花), simply translated as blooming of culture. A lot of foreign culture flowed into Japan but the seven main things which symbolize Bummei Kaika were [New paper], [Postal service], [Gas street lantern], [Steam boat], [Photography], [Expo Exhibitions], [Air balloon], [Steam train] and [Bread].
What I thought was unique about Kimuraya is that because it is based in Tokyo or Edo back then, it was a bit far from the center of Bummei Kaika which was in port city Yokohama. Their main customer was local Japanese which kept their products from being completely westernized. (On the other hand Yokohama bakery served to a lot to expats.) Kimuraya’s trademark is by using sake’s rice malt as a yeast. This mix-culture of applying the rice malt to the western bread making technique and stuffed with a Azuki beans was a hit within the Samurais, which they thought it was such a creative product and brought the An-pan as a gift to the Meiji Emperor. The Emperor loved it and therefore made the common people wanting to try one too and became the most famous bakery in Japan for making An-pan.
Kimuraya is all over Japan. You can get them at any major department stores or malls etc. I’ll buy some once a year, not much because it’s all over Japan and you can get it anytime. When I walked in the main store, which was like my 5th time in my life (I’ve been living in Japan for 55yrs!!) I didn’t expect much. Once I stepped into the store, the atmosphere was really great. They seemed to be doing some minor changes and it feels good. The famous An-pan were all placed in a wooden Japanese style trays like in old times and the men behind the counter where all wearing Indigo dyed Happi jackets, Japanese style short coats which a lot of craftsman wears it as a uniform.
My husband grabbed the An-pan and I was curious about their seasonal sakura cream bread and got that. The fun thing about dropping by at the head branch is that you can get seasonal bread which are sold only there. The sakura cream bread (picture above) was a shape of a sakura petal and the cream was so smooth and lightly flavored with the sakura leafs. I didn’t expected much but it was really good. I was definitely sold by this experience and will try to drop by Kimuraya whenever I’m in Ginza.