Kaminari Okoshi: Asakusa’s Specialty Puffed Rice Cracker

I live in Niigata Prefecture situated about 300 km northwest of Tokyo, and I don’t visit Tokyo a lot.

However, when I go on a trip to Tokyo, I often do some sightseeing in Asakusa. Every time I visit the area, I see many tourists from overseas countries doing sightseeing as well.

Kaminarimon (雷門: Thunder Gate) in Asakusa

Kaminari Mon (雷門: Thunder Gate)Asakusa Kaminari-Mon Thunder Gate

In fact, “Asakusa (浅草)” is a very popular tourist spot in Tokyo where there are a lot of places to see. Among others, especially, I think the area around “Kaminari Mon (雷門: Thunder gate)” is always crowded.

As shown above, Kaminarimon is such an impressive red gate known as a landmark of Asakusa that it is definitely introduced in Japanese travel guidebooks and brochures for tourists from overseas.

As for history, the original Kaminarimon gate is said to have been constructed in 941. But it was destroyed by fire, and after that as well, the gate would be repeatedly ravaged by fire but rebuilt each time.

Kaminari Okoshi (雷おこし)

Tokiwado (常盤堂), Kaminari Okoshi (雷おこし)Tokiwado Kaminari Okoshi

In the late Edo period, around 1800, the thunder gate was burned down by the fire again.

When reconstructing the gate, street vendors of Asakusa began selling rice crackers as a lucky charm for avoiding the strike of a thunderbolt, and the confection was named “Kaminari Okoshi (雷おこし)”.

In its name, “Okoshi (おこし)” has a meaning of “rebuilding” in Japanese, while the former word “Kaminari (雷)” stands for Kaminarimon, so Kaminari Okoshi literally meant rebuilding the gate.

Features

Kaminari Okoshi (雷おこし)OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAImage: Rakuten kingyosou

Today, Kaminari Okoshi has become a nationally famous confection in Japan and is one of the most popular souvenirs of Asakusa.

They are rectangular colorful blocks of sweet rice crackers traditionally consisting of puffed rice grains, starch syrup, sugar, and tiny bits of peanuts.

The rice puff snack, Kaminari Okoshi has a light, crunchy, brittle texture. It has a refined sweetness and is characterized by the pleasant-smelling fragrance from its puffed rice grains.

Tokiwado (常盤堂)

Tokiwado Kaminari Okoshi

When it comes to where to buy Kaminari Okoshi in Asakusa, “Tokiwado (常盤堂)” is one of the best and highly recommended.

Tokiwado is a well-established confectionery shop with about 250 years of history and is especially famous for Kaminari Okoshi.

Shop Information: Tokiwado (常盤堂)

Address: 1-3-2 Asakusa, Taito-ku Ward, Tokyo (MAP)
Open: 9:00 to 20:30
Open throughout the week

(Reference Page: Wikipedia 雷おこし )

Tomo

Hi, I'm Tomo, a Japanese blogger living in Niigata Prefecture, Japan. For the purpose of enriching your life, I would like to introduce things about Japan on this blog, especially unique Japanese products, cooking recipes, cultures, and facts and trivia.

2 Responses

  1. Shirley says:

    Hello Tomo,

    For many years, I had a very dear Japanese friend living in Tokyo who sometimes sent me gifts of Japanese food. Sadly she died recently, but I have an unopened box of Tokiwado’s kaminari okoshi which I would like to give to young (13 years old) English friend who is gluten intolerant, but very interested in all aspects of Japanese life. The ingredients list above states: “They are rectangular blocks of sweet and colorful rice crackers traditionally consisting of puffed rice grains, starch syrup, sugar, and tiny bits of peanuts.” Can you tell me whether any of these contain gluten please – it is very important as I do not wish to harm the child. Thank you very much in advance.

    • Tomo says:

      Hello, Thank you for the comment.
      Yes, as you say, the main ingredients in Kaminari Okoshi are puffed rice, starch syrup, sugar, and peanuts. But just in case, I went to Tokiwado’s official website and checked whether their Kaminari Okoshi contains some wheat, and the description says it partially contains. So I’d say the puffed rice snack may contain gluten, not 100 % sure, though.

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