Nanbu Senbei: Traditional Wheat Crackers from Aomori

When Japanese think of snacks served with green tea, many will bring to mind “Senbei (煎餅)”, a traditional Japanese rice cracker that comes in several types.

The majority of Senbei crackers are made from non-glutinous rice called “Uruchi Mai (うるち米)”, the staple of the Japanese diet, but some use wheat flour in place of rice.

Representative examples of such wheat crackers include Kawara Senbei, and what I introduce here “Nanbu Senbei (南部煎餅)” is also among them.

Nanbu Senbei (南部煎餅)

Packaged Nanbu Senbei

Nanbu Senbei is a traditional Japanese wheat cracker originating from Hachinohe, Aomori. It is excellent in preservation property and was originally an emergency food.

In modern times, Aomori and Iwate Prefectures are the main production areas of the Senbei, and the wheat cracker has become their specialty.


Nanbu Senbei Crackers

Unlike regular Senbei varieties, Nanbu Senbei has a crispy rim. Its center is somewhat thick, where some flavoring ingredient is often embedded.

Those flavorings are typically sesame seeds, peanuts, or walnuts, but other than these, various foods can be used in Nanbu Senbei, including squid meat, pumpkin, apple, and cocoa powder.

Incidentally, the plain one without using any flavorings is generally called “Shiro Senbei (白せんべい: White Senbei)”.


The taste varies depending on the region and the variety. In general, Aomori’s Nanbu Senbei is a bit salty, whereas the one consumed in Iwate is on the sweet side. 

Nanbu Senbei with Peanuts

As for what I have now, this peanuts-embedded one is a little sweet.

Nanbu Senbei with White Sesame Seeds

This one with white sesame seeds has a slightly salty taste from soy sauce.

Nanbu Senbei with Black Sesame Seeds

This one using black sesame seeds doesn’t use soy sauce but is lightly salted.

How to Enjoy

We usually eat Nanbu Senbei as it is. But sometimes Sekihan red rice or Mizuame candy is sandwiched and enjoyed as a kind of Senbei sandwich.

(Reference Page: Wikipedia 南部煎餅 )


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.

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