Nanbu Senbei : Aomori’s Traditional Wheat Crackers

When Japanese think of snack foods served together with green tea, many will bring “Senbei (煎餅)” to mind.

Senbei is a traditional Japanese rice cracker which comes in several types. Although the majority of Senbei rice crackers are made from non-glutinous rice, the staple of the Japanese, some are made of wheat flour instead of rice.

For example, the classic Japanese cracker I introduced a while ago, Kawara Senbei is a Senbei whose main ingredient is wheat flour and doesn’t contain rice.

Actually, in addition to Kawara Senbei, there is one more famous wheat cracker classified as a Senbei in Japan, which is called “Nanbu Senbei (南部煎餅)”.

Nanbu Senbei (南部煎餅)

Packaged Nanbu Senbei

Nanbu Senbei is a traditional Senbei cracker made of wheat flour which originated in Hachinohe, Aomori prefecture.

Originally, Nanbu Senbei was an emergency food, so it is excellent in preservation. In modern times, Aomori and Iwate Prefectures are famous as production areas of Nanbu Senbei.


Nanbu Senbei Crackers

Unlike typical rice Senbei, Nanbu Senbei has a crispy rim. In contrast, its center part is somewhat thick where some food for flavoring is embedded throughout.

Typical flavoring foods for Nanbu Senbei are sesame seeds, peanuts or walnuts, but other than these, various foods can be used in Nanbu Senbei.

In fact, in recent years, there are many variations of Nanbu Senbei, some of which contain even squid meat, pumpkin, apple or cocoa powder in the cracker.

There also exists Nanbu Senbei without containing any flavoring foods, which is called “Shiro Senbei (白せんべい : White Senbei)”.


The taste of Nanbu Senbei varies depending on the area and the variety. Generally, Aomori’s Nanbu Senbei features a little bit salty taste, while the one consumed in Iwate is slightly sweet in taste. 

Nanbu Senbei with Peanuts

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

Nanbu Senbei with White Sesame Seeds

this one with white sesame seeds has subtle saltiness that comes from soy sauce, 

Nanbu Senbei with Black Sesame Seeds

and the one with black sesame seeds is slightly salty, but doesn’t contain soy sauce.

Eating Manner

Although we usually consume Nanbu Senbei as is just like we eat regular rice Senbei, sometimes Sekihan red rice or Mizuame candy is sandwiched between them and we enjoy the Senbei sandwich.

(Reference page of this article : 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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