Maker's Story: Rice Crackers from Yamagata by Sakata Beika

Sakata Beika Maker's Story by JAPAN RAIL CLUB

When it comes to rice crackers from Yamagata, no other company does it better than Sakata Beika (酒田米菓)! Priding themselves with creating the best rice crackers made with non-glutinous domestic rice, Sakata Beika is our featured maker of the month. JAPAN RAIL CLUB spoke to Imai-san (今井) from the Planning Department to learn more about Sakata Beika and their delicious rice crackers.

 

Imai-san, thank you for accepting our interview request! Firstly, please tell us more about Sakata Beika and its origins.

The company was founded by Eikichi Sato (佐藤栄吉), who ran a rice shop in the former town of Yawata-machi (八幡町) in Yamagata Prefecture (山形県). 

Recognising the limitations of his business as a rice shop, Sato-san believed in the importance of acquiring processing skills and turned his attention to senbei (煎餅・せんべい) or rice crackers, which was previously manufactured through specialisation. This led to the establishment of Sakata Beika in 1951 (Showa 26), starting with wholesaling dough to senbei shops and eventually expanding to handle all aspects of senbei production and sales.

 

Oranda SenbeiOranda Senbei is characterised by its ultra-thin thickness. | Photo by Sakata Beika

 

That is so inspiring! We know that Sakata Beika’s main brand is “Oranda Senbei”. Could you tell us more about the brand and the story behind such an interesting name? 

Yes, Sakata Beika’s representative brand is undoubtedly “Oranda Senbei” (オランダせんべい). The name “Oranda Senbei” was derived from the fact that the landscape of Shonai, with its rice paddies, resembles that of The Netherlands. 

Also, in the Shonai dialect, “we” is “orada” (おらだ). So to say “our senbei” in Shonai dialect would be “orada no senbei” (おらだのせんべい), which eventually evolved into “Oranda Senbei”.

 

That is so interesting! As you might know, two of Sakata Beika’s snacks are part of the ensemble in this month’s “Yummy Yamagata” Omiyage Snack Box, including the “Oranda Senbei Grilled Corn” (オランダせんべい 焼きとうもろこし). What is the main selling point of this snack?

 

Production photos of Oranda Senbei by Sakata BeikaPart of the production process of the well-loved Oranda Senbei. | Photo by Sakata Beika

Oranda Senbei is a well-loved brand across all ages! Since its launch in 1962 (Showa 37), 200 million pieces of rice crackers have been produced annually, making it our flagship product. 

 

Oranda Senbei Grilled CornOranda Senbei Grilled Corn (オランダせんべい 焼きとうもろこし). | Photo by JAPAN RAIL CLUB

Made with 100% domestic uruchi (non-glutinous) rice produced in the Shonai area of Yamagata Prefecture, which is one of Japan’s premier rice-producing areas, Oranda Senbei’s original rice crackers are baked with an ultra-thinness of only 3mm. 

Oranda Senbei rice crackers also feature a crispy texture and a lightly-salted flavour which enhances the natural deliciousness of the rice. With the Grilled Corn flavour, savour the addictively sweet and umami flavour of grilled corn that has been a popular product among people of all ages since its release. 

 

What about Sakata Beika’s other snack “PARIPARI×SAKUSAKU Dondonyaki” (PARIPARI×SAKUSAKU どんどん焼き)?

PARIPARI x SAKUSAKU Dondonyaki Rice CrackersPARIPARI×SAKUSAKU Dondonyaki (PARIPARI×SAKUSAKU どんどん焼き). | Photo by JAPAN RAIL CLUB

Our PARIPARI×SAKUSAKU series features original and unique crispy rice crackers and crunchy chocolate rice puffs in the style of Yamagata, by introducing not only local Yamagata flavours but also eye-catching and modern packaging with Yamagata motifs and designs.

This sauce-flavoured snack is inspired by Yamagata's soul food: dondonyaki and features the hanagasa flower hats, from the exciting Yamagata Hanagasa Festival in summer, on its packaging. Enjoy bite-sized thin rice crackers with aosa seaweed kneaded into the dough!

 

Rice fields in Sakata, with Mount Chokai in the backgroundRice fields in Sakata, with Mount Chokai in the background. | Photo by Sakata Beika

 

Are there any noteworthy features in terms of the production of Sakata Beika’s products?

We use only domestically produced rice for our raw materials. This ensures that the origin of the rice is clear and undisputed, allowing for us to process them with a peace of mind. We are very particular about the quality of rice used, as we want our customers to be able to enjoy the natural flavour of the rice itself.

 

Sakata Beika FactoryThe rice crackers are handled carefully by hand, ensuring quality products. | Photo by Sakata Beika

As for exports, our rice crackers have been sold in Australia, Switzerland, the United States of America, and Hong Kong. 

 

Oranda Senbei Nibosen by Sakata BeikaOranda Senbei Nibosen, a collaborative effort between Sakata Beika and Sakata Ramen Research Association. | Photo by Sakata Beika

 

You’d be happy to know that your products will reach out to a wider international audience through JAPAN RAIL CLUB! Are there any products or initiatives that align with sustainability or eco-friendliness goals?

Yes, it would be the “Oranda Senbei Nibosen” (オランダせんべいにぼせん). It is an SDG (Sustainable Development Goals) product created in collaboration with the Sakata Ramen Research Association (酒田のラーメンを考える会), in which dried sardines used to make ramen soup stock is kneaded into the dough. After baking, two types of locally-harvested salt (containing dried sardine powder) are used to season the thin rice crackers. 

This initiative helps reduce waste by approximately 40kg per production run.

 

Oh, the Oranda Senbei Nibosen was a hit when they were introduced in our “Taste Tohoku Treats” Omiyage Snack Box earlier in March 2024! Thank you for sharing that insightful information with us! 

Speaking about insightful information, I would also like to share something that would interest your readers! 

Did you know that Oranda Senbei has a factory that is open to the public for tours? 

 

Oranda chan, mascot of Oranda SenbeiSay hello to Oranda Senbei’s mascot, Oranda-chan (オランダちゃん)! | Photo by Sakata Beika

Located along the Mogami River, Oranda Senbei Factory (オランダせんべい FACTORY) is a facility where visitors can learn about the history of Oranda Senbei and observe the entire production process of Yamagata’s beloved soul food. From the entrance to the exit, this factory is a whopping 395m in length! You can also sample fresh-off-the-grill rice crackers made on the same day.

 

DIY senbei-making experience at Oranda Senbei Factory.
DIY senbei-making experience at Oranda Senbei Factory. | Photo by Sakata Beika

Other than that, there is also a hands-on senbei experience at the cafe, where you can bake the dough yourself and enjoy the taste of freshly baked rice crackers. You can choose up to two flavours from around 11 varieties, allowing you to make your own original rice crackers according to your preferences.

 

Oranda Senbei souvenir shopOranda Senbei products at one of our shops. | Photo by Sakata Beika

 

That sounds exciting indeed, especially getting to make your very own rice crackers! Where is the Oranda Senbei Factory located, and are there any notable shops where visitors can check out Sakata Beika’s products?

Oranda Senbei Factory (オランダせんべい FACTORY)
Address: 2-24 Ryoucho, Sakata, Yamagata 998-0832
Access: 10-minute taxi ride from Sakata Station
TEL (Headquarters): +81 234-22-9541
*Oranda Senbei Headquarters Office is located within Oranda Senbei Factory.

For those visiting Yamagata:
Yu-Yu-Yu no Sakata Beika @ S-PAL Yamagata (遊友結の酒田米菓 S-PAL 山形店)
Address: 2F, S-PAL Yamagata, 1-1-1 Kasumi-cho, Yamagata, 990-0039
Access: Directly connected to Yamagata Station
TEL: +81 23-673-9546

For those in Tokyo:
Sakata Beika Antenna Shop (酒田米菓アンテナショップ)
Address: 5-3-10 Hiroo, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 150-0012
Access: 1-minute walk from Hiro-o Station
TEL: +81 3-6721-6552

 

A representative from Sakata BeikaImai-san from Sakata Beika! | Photo by Sakata Beika

 

Thank you so much for your time, Imai-san. We hope that more overseas customers will come to know about Sakata Beika’s delicious rice crackers. Do you have a message for our readers at JAPAN RAIL CLUB?

Apart from Oranda Senbei, Sakata Beika also produces and sells a variety of other tasty snacks, including the PARIPARI×SAKUSAKU series which features rice crackers and rice puffs with Yamagata local flavours. All of our products are made with domestic Yamagata rice, and you can be sure to enjoy the natural deliciousness of rice with every bite. Please buy some when you visit Tohoku in the future!

 

Yummy Yamagata Omiyage Snack Box by JAPAN RAIL CLUB

JAPAN RAIL CLUB is proud to present an exciting ensemble of snacks from Yamagata Prefecture in June 2024’s Omiyage Snack Box “Yummy Yamagata”. Look forward to tasting Sakata Beika’s “Oranda Senbei Grilled Corn” and “PARIPARI×SAKUSAKU Dondonyaki” as featured in this article! Subscribe by 30 June 2024 to try these Yamagata-exclusive treats—you’ll be in for a Yummy Yamagata time!

Meet the author

Sue Lynn

Currently based in Tokyo, Sue Lynn first came to Japan as a university exchange student. With 6 years of experience in Japan's inbound tourism, she is familiar with Japan, particularly on rail passes and East Japan spots, and has a passion for travelling.

Sue is also passionate about Japan's thrifting culture, and is keen to uncover more hidden gems while visiting all 47 prefectures during her stay in Japan.

Sue's 5Cs are cats, cameras, cinema, climbing, and city pop. Ask her about how her favourite JR Pass (JR TOKYO Wide Pass) saved her life (and wallet).

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你知道嗎?日本是世界第二大綠茶生產國,僅次於中國,而靜岡縣的茶就占全國生產量約40%。 一般來說,茶葉會經過蒸、揉和乾燥等過程來製作成飲用茶。採摘後的茶葉會被蒸熟以停止氧化,以保持茶葉的鮮綠色、營養和清新的香氣。

So Much Matcha: An Essential Guide to Green Tea in Japan
Sue Lynn

So Much Matcha: An Essential Guide to Green Tea...

High in anti-oxidants and packed with anti-inflammatory properties, green tea (緑茶) is one of Japan’s most popular beverages and an important part of its culture, and can be found all...

Carissa Loh Culture

So Much Matcha: An Essential Guide to Green Tea...

High in anti-oxidants and packed with anti-inflammatory properties, green tea (緑茶) is one of Japan’s...

製茶故事:京都舞妓之茶本舖
Sue Lynn

製茶故事:京都舞妓之茶本舖

當提到日本的綠茶,大家都知道日本京都是茶文化的中心。 綠茶一開始是在西元9世紀,由幾個佛教僧侶從中國引進到日本的。在日本人的生活中,綠茶已經成為一種有著許多用途而且對人體健康的飲品。 作為日本文化的一部分,抹茶、煎茶和玉露等的綠茶品種也提供了多樣的口味選擇和體驗。例如傳統的日本茶道,不僅喝茶能帶來健康,茶道更成為了日本獨一無二的文化。

Sue Lynn Maker's Story

製茶故事:京都舞妓之茶本舖

當提到日本的綠茶,大家都知道日本京都是茶文化的中心。 綠茶一開始是在西元9世紀,由幾個佛教僧侶從中國引進到日本的。在日本人的生活中,綠茶已經成為一種有著許多用途而且對人體健康的飲品。 作為日本文化的一部分,抹茶、煎茶和玉露等的綠茶品種也提供了多樣的口味選擇和體驗。例如傳統的日本茶道,不僅喝茶能帶來健康,茶道更成為了日本獨一無二的文化。

Maker's Story: Gyokuro Tea from Kyoto by Maikonocha Honpo
Sue Lynn

Maker's Story: Gyokuro Tea from Kyoto by Maikon...

When it comes to green tea from Japan, Kyoto stands as the hub of tea culture. Originally introduced by returning Buddhist monks from their travels in China in the 9th...

Sue Lynn Food

Maker's Story: Gyokuro Tea from Kyoto by Maikon...

When it comes to green tea from Japan, Kyoto stands as the hub of tea...

Maker’s Story: Premium Matcha Products from Uji, Kyoto by Kyoeiseicha
Sue Lynn

Maker’s Story: Premium Matcha Products from Uji...

This May, JAPAN RAIL CLUB celebrates the joy that matcha brings to our lives with the special “So Much Matcha” Omiyage Snack Box. May marks the start of the traditional...

Sue Lynn Maker's Story

Maker’s Story: Premium Matcha Products from Uji...

This May, JAPAN RAIL CLUB celebrates the joy that matcha brings to our lives with...

綠之日快樂!一起來探索日本新綠季節中五個不能錯過的景點
Sue Lynn

綠之日快樂!一起來探索日本新綠季節中五個不能錯過的景點

在日本眾多節慶與珍貴傳統之中,有一個特別關於自然崇敬的慶典——綠之日。這個國定假日訂於每年五月四日,見證了日本與自然的深厚連結,也提醒人們欣賞這個70%都是山區的島國上,那些美麗的綠色景觀。

Carissa Loh Culture

綠之日快樂!一起來探索日本新綠季節中五個不能錯過的景點

在日本眾多節慶與珍貴傳統之中,有一個特別關於自然崇敬的慶典——綠之日。這個國定假日訂於每年五月四日,見證了日本與自然的深厚連結,也提醒人們欣賞這個70%都是山區的島國上,那些美麗的綠色景觀。

Happy Greenery Day: 5 Must-Visit Places to Explore During Japan's Shinryoku Season
Sue Lynn

Happy Greenery Day: 5 Must-Visit Places to Expl...

Nestled amongst Japan’s vibrant festivities and cherished traditions lies a celebration rooted in reverence for nature―Midori-no-Hi (みどりの日 Greenery Day). Observed annually on 4 May, this national holiday is a testament...

Carissa Loh Culture

Happy Greenery Day: 5 Must-Visit Places to Expl...

Nestled amongst Japan’s vibrant festivities and cherished traditions lies a celebration rooted in reverence for...

Fresh From Hokkaido: A Guide to Sapporo Central Wholesale Market
Sue Lynn

Fresh From Hokkaido: A Guide to Sapporo Central...

Hokkaido is Japan’s food paradise as the northernmost part of the country is the top producer of agricultural products and seafood: the vast lands covering Japan’s second largest island and...

Wendy Ng

Fresh From Hokkaido: A Guide to Sapporo Central...

Hokkaido is Japan’s food paradise as the northernmost part of the country is the top...

Nihon Sankei (日本三景): The Three Scenic Views of Japan
Sue Lynn

Nihon Sankei (日本三景): The Three Scenic Views of ...

Japan is an island nation that has always been known for its stunningly beautiful landscapes but even amongst these, there are three locations that rise above the others and are...

Dawn Sim Nature

Nihon Sankei (日本三景): The Three Scenic Views of ...

Japan is an island nation that has always been known for its stunningly beautiful landscapes...

Japan celebrates Golden Week between April 29 to May 5
Sue Lynn

Golden Week: Exploring Japan's Week-Long Festiv...

What is Golden Week? Golden Week (ゴールデンウィーク or 黄金週間 Ogon Shukan), recognised as one of Japan's most prominent and bustling holiday periods, usually spans from late April to early May...

Dawn Sim Culture

Golden Week: Exploring Japan's Week-Long Festiv...

What is Golden Week? Golden Week (ゴールデンウィーク or 黄金週間 Ogon Shukan), recognised as one of...

春暖花開:櫻花之外的六種當季花卉
Sue Lynn

春暖花開:櫻花之外的六種當季花卉

賞花的樂趣之一,就是它們轉瞬即逝的特性:花期每季只有幾天,但那短暫幾天卻難忘極了。來看看六種春天當季花卉,以及賞花最佳時機!

Carissa Loh Nature

春暖花開:櫻花之外的六種當季花卉

賞花的樂趣之一,就是它們轉瞬即逝的特性:花期每季只有幾天,但那短暫幾天卻難忘極了。來看看六種春天當季花卉,以及賞花最佳時機!

Spring Beginnings: 6 Seasonal Flowers Other Than Sakura
Sue Lynn

Spring Beginnings: 6 Seasonal Flowers Other Tha...

Flowers herald the beginning of spring, and in Japan, no flower is more synonymous with spring than the beloved cherry blossom (桜 sakura). However, other than these pretty, pink blossoms,...

Carissa Loh Nature

Spring Beginnings: 6 Seasonal Flowers Other Tha...

Flowers herald the beginning of spring, and in Japan, no flower is more synonymous with...

Spring Beginnings: 7 Things to Do in Japan in April and May
Sue Lynn

Spring Beginnings: 7 Things to Do in Japan in A...

Cherry blossoms, or sakura, are flowers symbolic of spring, often alluded to the promise of a new beginning in many Japanese literature. | Photo by Dawn Sim   A symbol...

Dawn Sim Spring

Spring Beginnings: 7 Things to Do in Japan in A...

Cherry blossoms, or sakura, are flowers symbolic of spring, often alluded to the promise of...

Spring Beginnings: 6 Must-Try Spring Foods in Japan
Sue Lynn

Spring Beginnings: 6 Must-Try Spring Foods in J...

Spring in Japan is a time for celebration as the season marks new beginnings. Other than the mesmerising cherry blossoms painting the landscape, spring is the best season to experience...

Wendy Ng Food

Spring Beginnings: 6 Must-Try Spring Foods in J...

Spring in Japan is a time for celebration as the season marks new beginnings. Other...

Spring Beginnings: 6 Must-Visit Spring Festivals in Japan
Sue Lynn

Spring Beginnings: 6 Must-Visit Spring Festival...

Photo by cyesuta (CC BY-SA 2.0)   Spring is a season of new beginnings, bringing with it beautiful flowers, comfortable temperatures, and a time of celebration. While most travellers head...

Carissa Loh Festival

Spring Beginnings: 6 Must-Visit Spring Festival...

Photo by cyesuta (CC BY-SA 2.0)   Spring is a season of new beginnings, bringing...

Castle Day (6 April): 10 Must-Visit Castles in Japan
Sue Lynn

Castle Day (6 April): 10 Must-Visit Castles in ...

Matsue Castle in spring. | Photo by 島根県観光連盟 Japan, a nation celebrated for its rich history and enduring cultural heritage, is particularly famous for its magnificent Japanese castles (お城 oshiro)....

Carissa Loh Culture

Castle Day (6 April): 10 Must-Visit Castles in ...

Matsue Castle in spring. | Photo by 島根県観光連盟 Japan, a nation celebrated for its rich...

Sakura Karinto and Marui Suzuki
Sue Lynn

Maker’s Story: Seasonal Karinto Snacks from Tok...

April marks the official arrival of spring in Japan, and one of the cherished traditions of celebrating this season is to enjoy “ohanami” (お花見)! Ohanami means “flower-viewing”, and this is...

Sue Lynn Maker's Story

Maker’s Story: Seasonal Karinto Snacks from Tok...

April marks the official arrival of spring in Japan, and one of the cherished traditions...

A Guide to Sakura in Tohoku: Best Cherry Blossom Viewing Spots in Northeast Japan
Sue Lynn

A Guide to Sakura in Tohoku: Best Cherry Blosso...

Hirosaki Castle Park | Photo by Aomori Prefecture Cherry blossoms or sakura (桜) herald the start of springtime in Japan. Spring is the prettiest and most enjoyable season with radiant...

Wendy Ng Spring

A Guide to Sakura in Tohoku: Best Cherry Blosso...

Hirosaki Castle Park | Photo by Aomori Prefecture Cherry blossoms or sakura (桜) herald the...

A Guide to Japanese Shochu: A Tasting Tour of Shochu Distilleries in Miyazaki
Sue Lynn

A Guide to Japanese Shochu: A Tasting Tour of S...

Shochu (焼酎) is one of the most consumed alcoholic beverages in Japan and the Japanese drink more shochu than sake. Considered to be Japan's national spirit, Shochu is gaining great...

Wendy Ng

A Guide to Japanese Shochu: A Tasting Tour of S...

Shochu (焼酎) is one of the most consumed alcoholic beverages in Japan and the Japanese...

Tohoku: A Tale of Tradition through its Cultural Icons
Sue Lynn

Tohoku: A Tale of Tradition through its Cultura...

Statues of the Namahage located in Oga Peninsula. | Photo by PhotoAC Steeped in tradition, Tohoku (東北), the northeastern part of Japan comprising of six prefectures – Aomori (青森), Akita...

Dawn Sim Culture

Tohoku: A Tale of Tradition through its Cultura...

Statues of the Namahage located in Oga Peninsula. | Photo by PhotoAC Steeped in tradition,...

Tasty Tohoku Treats: 6 Must-Try Food from Northeast Japan
Sue Lynn

Tasty Tohoku Treats: 6 Must-Try Food from North...

Japan is a food paradise and beyond the major cities and well-trodden travel routes, you can unearth more culinary treasures spread throughout the country if you venture into the less...

Wendy Ng Food

Tasty Tohoku Treats: 6 Must-Try Food from North...

Japan is a food paradise and beyond the major cities and well-trodden travel routes, you...

Sakura 2024: 5 Must-Visit Cherry Blossom Spots in Tokyo for Ohanami
Sue Lynn

Sakura 2024: 5 Must-Visit Cherry Blossom Spots ...

If you have visited Tokyo between late March and early April, then chances are you have witnessed the enchanting sight of cherry blossoms (桜 sakura) in full bloom. A cherry...

Carissa Loh Culture

Sakura 2024: 5 Must-Visit Cherry Blossom Spots ...

If you have visited Tokyo between late March and early April, then chances are you...

Tasty Tohoku Treats: 6 Must-Buy Souvenirs from Tohoku
Sue Lynn

Tasty Tohoku Treats: 6 Must-Buy Souvenirs from ...

Located on the north-eastern part of mainland Japan, Tohoku (東北) is made up of six prefectures, and is a treasure trove of beautiful nature and fascinating history. It’s a wonderful...

Carissa Loh Food

Tasty Tohoku Treats: 6 Must-Buy Souvenirs from ...

Located on the north-eastern part of mainland Japan, Tohoku (東北) is made up of six...

Omiyage Day (8 March): Exploring Japan's Souvenir & Gift-Giving Culture
Sue Lynn

Omiyage Day (8 March): Exploring Japan's Souven...

Have you heard of omiyage (お土産)? If you’ve been to Japan, then you have probably seen the colourful and beautifully packaged boxes of local confectionery filling the gift shops along...

Carissa Loh Culture

Omiyage Day (8 March): Exploring Japan's Souven...

Have you heard of omiyage (お土産)? If you’ve been to Japan, then you have probably...