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Unique editors who are familiar with each genre GINZA SIX aimlessly
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A Sojourn of Entrancing Flavors in Ginza

Miho Tanaka

GINZA SIX EDITORS Vol.101

I want to travel, I want to rove. Sheltered in place all spring, I’ve seen summer come and go in the blink of an eye, with none of the usual summer things, with signs of fall now already in the air. I want to get out, I want to go somewhere—I can’t help feeling fidgety thinking about this. The pleasure of travel, of course, lies in the scenery, people, and flavors of the very place you’re visiting. I can’t get enough of good food, so when I travel, food is first, second, and third on my agenda. I look for delicious things unique to a place and head there. Normally, this is something I do fairly often.

Travel isn’t so easy now, but there’s a place that quenches my thirst for travel and desire for great food. That’s Ginza—specifically, the second belowground floor of GINZA SIX. From Hokkaido in the north to Fukuoka Prefecture in the south, there’s delicious food here from all over Japan. As the food-loving editor that I am, I’ve looked around at the various food floors in the basements of various department stores, but none offers the sparkle and appeal of the lineup at GINZA SIX. From bento to sweets and drinks to thoughtful, tasteful gifts and souvenirs—all of this is here. But you can also get a little something for yourself. There’s delicious food here—almost too much of it!—to enrich your time at home. So when I come here I spend, spend, spend. Sinful indulgences? Perhaps…

My theme today is travel with a focus on entrancing flavors. I’ve come to the second belowground floor at GINZA SIX. This trip is too much fun—but it’ll require six more to fulfill my entire agenda of gourmandise!

First up is 10FACTORY. Seeing such beautiful shades of orange sets my heart aflutter. With a flagship store located in Matsuyama, Ehime Prefecture, Japan’s No. 1 citrus producer—the Citrus Kingdom, as it’s known—this brand promotes the prefecture’s mikan industry. The store sells everything from juice to jams, jellies, dried fruit, honey, and more—a rich lineup.

After staring at the shelves of juices so hard, I head to the jelly section. It’s a field of flowers, of jelly flowers blooming their hearts out—or so it strikes me. It leaves me entranced. You can tell from the serious look on my face I’m doing my best to hold back from buying every single variety.

Peppering the sales associate with questions like, “How about a juice that makes you feel like you’re vacationing in Matsuyama in Ehime Prefecture?”, I end up choosing these three. From the left, Iyokan, Kanpei, and Kashi No. 28. Iyokan (500 yen; all prices listed before tax), a variety of mikan for which Ehime is especially well known, provides a perfect balance of sweet and tart—the definitive mikan flavor. Next is Kanpei (704 yen), the ultimate in sweetness. This variety is hard to grow and a rare variety original to Ehime Prefecture. The last one I drink is Kashi No. 28 (704 yen), also an original Ehime variety. I can’t get enough of the tropical sweetness with peach-like flavors. In my mind, I’m already in Ehime.

How can one travel in Japan without buying a bento at the train station? Can you see what Kewpie has there?

To my mind, the ultimate train station bento is Toge no Kamameshi from Oginoya. It’s something I buy reflexively whenever I head to Gunma or Nagano Prefectures. (In passing, Kewpie here is holding a Toge no Kamameshi bento.)

I can’t believe I can get a Toge no Kamameshi in Ginza. Wow—it’s heavy. It’s because so many ingredients are stuffed in there, but also because the container is an actual clay bowl fired in the famous pottery village of Mashiko. A souvenir from the trip; you won’t throw it out each time, you’ll bring it home to keep. I have a bunch of these bowls at home. They stand up to direct heat, so I use them to cook rice. Very convenient. I carefully unwrap the orange wrapping paper, remove the lid, and peer at the beautifully arranged toppings of a chestnut, chicken, a boiled quail egg, and a dried apricot. It’s uplifting no matter how many times I’ve seen it.

The famous Toge no Kamameshi (1,019 yen) train station bento was created in 1958 alongside the opening of Yokokawa Station on the Shin’etsu Main Line. At the time, a station bento provided in a clay pot, which keeps food warm exceptionally well, was revolutionary. They recently introduced environmentally-friendly paper containers made from a non-wood pulp fiber made from crushed sugarcane residue. Even a perennial best seller beloved for more than 55 years changes when the times change. This is the commendable spirit of a venerable institution like Oginoya.

The next stop on my trip is Hokkaido. Shiroi Koibito is the standard Hokkaido souvenir. It just so happens that this store is run by Ishiya Co., makers of Shiroi Koibito, the little langue de chat cookies with white chocolate. The name, too, is ISHIYA GINZA. Strangely enough, in the context of cookies and sweets that put one in a Hokkaido state of mind, products available only outside Hokkaido have emerged as a hot topic. They say Hokkaido residents often ask someone visiting Tokyo to bring back some of these Tokyo-only Hokkaido sweets—a nice example of the faux nonnative import phenomenon, perhaps.

Of the six flavors of chocolate available, all drawing on Hokkaido ingredients like caramel, Hokkaido cheese, and Hokkaido wine, Saku, sandwiched between multicolored langue de chat is the most popular. The sweets here truly inherit the DNA of Shiroi Koibito, but I’m just as inspired by the lovely boxes. Their design is based on the flavors and flowering plants of Hokkaido, with motifs arranged in tile-like patterns. They’re elegant and make great gifts… I say this, but they’re so nice I forget myself and pile them up in my arms just for me. After enjoying Saku with some wine, what should I do with the boxes? Again, I’m filled with elation just thinking about it.

Oh my, look what we have here, sparkling boxes of silver and blue. These are the new Zaku (1,000 yen). Made with premium chocolate rolled up in langue de chat—an exquisite treat.

I set myself the mission of getting this chocolate home in the best possible condition. It so happens that the perfect item to meet this particular need exists: this little cooler bag, the Horei Bag (700 yen). The bag features the same charming light blue pattern found on the Saku boxes filled with six-flavor assortments. Imagine my delight with all these sweets, all brimming with Hokkaido spirit! The light blue pattern on the bag, incidentally, incorporates each of the six motifs corresponding to the six flavors.

My journey continues. For some seasonal fall flavors, up next is Gifu Prefecture. This is Enaguri Kobo Ryoheido, a chestnut confectionary specialist founded in 1946 as a single storefront in Ena, Gifu Prefecture. The location here will be in GINZA SIX for a limited time, until January 31, 2021. In case you were wondering, the Ena region of southeastern Gifu Prefecture (the cities of Nakatsugawa and Ena) is renowned for its chestnuts.

Richly flavored sweets made with sweet Ena chestnuts include the famous kuri kinton (candied chestnuts). Another famous chestnut confection is Kuri Fukumochi (390 yen), comprising kuri kinton stuffed in a vibrant orange-colored persimmon, peeled, dried, and cut open to remove the seeds, from Ichida in Nagano Prefecture. The autumnal textures of sticky persimmon and soft, flaky chestnut are positively addictive. It’s a bit of a surprise to learn everything is done by hand by skilled confection makers. I’m told these famous chestnut confections have been bestowed as offerings at Ise Jingu shrine since 2013. I’ll be sure to relate this story when I give them as gifts to my superiors or those senior to me.

The store also has chestnut yokan (sweet chestnut paste jelly) and chestnut dorayaki (pancake sandwiched with sweet chestnut paste). Cut into one and you will find chestnuts. Plus there are also Japanese-style baked sweet chestnut cakes—a huge variety of chestnut confections. Truly a chestnut-filled trip in Gifu.

With my mikan juice from Matsuyama, Ehime Prefecture, kamameshi from Yokokawa, Gunma Prefecture, chestnut confections from Ena, Gifu Prefecture, chocolate confections from Sapporo, Hokkaido, I’m all set. I’ve assembled delicious fare from the local land and culture. I can now say I’ve well-travelled.

Here I am, enjoying the spoils of my travel at GINZA SIX Garden on the rooftop, a sanctuary of green in the middle of Ginza, Tokyo.

And so my first (?) sojourn of entrancing flavors in ginza comes to a happy conclusion. I’ve leisurely partaken of the flavors of each locality to my heart’s content. But this food-lover’s travels are far from over. Where next?

Text: Miho Tanaka Photos: Jun Hasegawa Edit: Yuka Okada(81)

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Miho Tanaka

Edits and writes lifestyle features, culture pages, and interview articles covering travel, food, and interior design for Precious, Waraku, and Domani. Has edited Miru Chikara by Sawako Agawa as well as recipe and lifestyle books. Fully fixated on delicious things, she’s also an active gastronome editor.

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10FACTORY

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OGINOYA

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ISHIYA GINZA

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Enakurikoubou-RYOUHEIDO

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2020.09.08 improves