Kaminari Okoshi: Puffed Rice Crackers from Asakusa, Tokyo
I live in Niigata Prefecture, located about 300 km northwest of Tokyo, and I don’t go on a trip there a lot.
But when I go to Tokyo, I often stroll through Asakusa. Every time I visit the area, I see many tourists from various countries doing sightseeing.
Kaminari Mon (雷門: Thunder Gate) in Asakusa
Kaminari Mon (雷門: Thunder Gate)
Asakusa (浅草) is a popular destination in Tokyo, where there are a lot of places to see, and the area around Kaminari Mon (雷門: Thunder gate) is always full of people.
Known as a landmark of Asakusa, Kaminarimon is such an impressive gate that most travel guidebooks and brochures introduce it.
As for history, the gate originated around 941. But later, it would be repeatedly ravaged by fire and rebuilt each time.
Kaminari Okoshi (雷おこし)
Kaminari Okoshi (雷おこし) from Tokiwado (常盤堂)
In the late Edo period (江戸時代: 1603 – 1868), around 1795, the thunder gate was burned down again.
When reconstructing it, street vendors of Asakusa began selling rice crackers as a lucky charm to avoid thunderbolts, and the confection was called Kaminari Okoshi (雷おこし).
In the name, while Kaminari (雷) stands for Kaminarimon, Okoshi (おこし) means rebuilding. And the sweet treat wished for reconstruction.
Kaminari Okoshi (雷おこし)Image: Rakuten Kingyosou
Today, Kaminari Okoshi has become a nationally famous confection and one of the most loved souvenirs of Asakusa, Tokyo.
They are colorful rectangular blocks of sweet rice crackers, traditionally consisting of puffed rice grains, starch syrup, sugar, and tiny bits of peanuts.
The snack has a light, crunchy texture and is brittle. Taste-wise, it has a gentle sweetness, accompanied by the pleasant aroma of puffed rice grains.
Regarding where to buy Kaminari Okoshi in Asakusa, Tokiwado (常盤堂) is one of the best, and I highly recommend it.
Tokiwado is a long-established confectionery shop with over 200 years of history and is especially famous for Kaminari Okoshi.
Address: 1-3-2 Asakusa, Taito Ward, Tokyo (Google Maps)
Open throughout the week: 9:00 to 18:30
(Reference Page: Wikipedia 雷おこし )
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.
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.