When I heard about shrimp crackers for the first time, I wasn’t really sold. I love shrimp very much but I simply couldn’t imagine a cracker with shrimp being any good.
I was so wrong!
Shrimp crackers might just be the best things that was ever invented in Aichi.
What are Ebi Senbei?
The translation of Ebi Senbei is simple. Ebi means shrimp, Senbei means rice cracker, so Ebi Senbei are simply shrimp rice crackers.
These shrimp crackers are made from real shrimp without any added flavors. The crackers are crispy and have a strong flavor of shrimp. Shrimp crackers range from simple cheap versions sold at the supermarket to luxury products featuring whole shrimp and selling for around 1000 yen (10 US dollars) apiece.
While rice crackers are popular throughout Japan and are produced in many parts of the country, the shrimp crackers are famously from Aichi with 90% of the countrywide production occurring in the region.
Ebi Senbei are a very popular snack in Aichi and a favorite souvenir to bring home to friends and family.
Origin of the Ebi Senbei in Aichi
In the Mikawa and Chita regions of the Aichi Prefecture, small shrimps can be caught in abundance. But because it was not easy to transport these easily without getting damaged they used to be used as fertilizer (what a waste).
During the end of the Edo Period, shrimp crackers were produced from these small shrimps as a way to create non-perishable food and make it easier to transport across distances.
Only in the middle of the Meiji Period (1868 – 1912) were shrimp crackers first mass-produced.
Where to Buy Ebi Senbei in Nagoya?
Across the Mikawa region, there are around 100 producers of rice crackers and more when looking at the whole of the Aichi region.
For the purpose of this post, I would like to focus only on the three most famous Ebi Senbei producers in the region.
If you want to sample even more I suggest keeping your eyes open as Ebi Senbei are sold everywhere in Nagoya. At supermarkets, convenience stores and souvenir shops. They are also sold at stands in the food section of department stores.
Nagoya Meshi Food Tour
You can join me on a Nagoya Meshi Food Tour to try your first Ebi Senbei and much more! These tours run daily from 2:30 p.m. for 3 hours. I introduce a variety of local foods to you including explanations on their origin and other interesting information.
You will learn about the history and culture of Nagoya as well. It’s a great chance to get an in-depth look at Nagoya in a short amount of time.
Ebi Senbei no Sato
Ebi Senbei no Sato or Shrimp Cracker Village is fun for the whole family. You can tour the factory where more than 20 kinds of shrimp crackers are produced.
You can also sample the different variations of shrimp crackers one by one in the factory store and even make your very own 30-centimeter big shrimp rice cracker.
You can decorate your rice cracker with different sauces, by using it as a canvas and drawing a picture on it. Explanation of the process is available in English and the rice cracker making experience costs only 300 yen.
The original Ebi Senbei no Sato is located in Mihama, on the Chita Peninsula south of Nagoya. You can reach it by taking the Meitetsu Line from Nagoya Station for 50 minutes.
If this seems like too much of a hassle or you are short on time, you have two other options to sample the delicious Ebi Senbei from Ebi Senbei no Sato.
One shop is located at the Kinshachi Yokocho food street right next to Nagoya Castle, another shop can be found at Nagoya Centrair Airport.
Of course, these shops do not have the factory tour or the cracker making experience on offer but you can try their wide variety of different Ebi Senbei and find the one you like best to take home with you.
Keishindo has been producing Ebi Senbei since 1866. They have a very high standard and only produce the most excellent products using the best ingredients.
With their high focus on quality, ingredients are all sourced domestically. Shrimp come from Hokkaido (where they are processed right away to ensure freshness) or from western Japan shrimp farms.
Their most expensive and high-class shrimp cracker is called Odori Yaki. A whole shrimp is used to make this unique cracker. The shrimp cracker has a very crispy texture and the rich flavor of a whole shrimp.
Keishindo has countless shops, stalls, and sellers all over the country. In Nagoya, you can find their main store right next to Kanayama Station. They have stands at all major department stores in the city such as Takashimaya at Nagoya Station as well as Matsuzakaya and Mitsukoshi in Sakae.
You can also find their products at the gift shops in Nagoya Station and at Nagoya Airport.
Established in 1889 Bankaku might just be the most famous Ebi Senbei producer in Aichi.
Their famous Yukari crackers are sold almost everywhere and with around 90 yen per cracker they are an affordable but high-quality gift for friends and colleagues.
The Yukari is made from real shrimp and when you bite into the flat and crispy cracker you will know that right away. Your taste buds are greeted by a strong shrimp flavor.
Other variations of Bankaku Ebi Senbei are also available, buy Yukari are the most popular by far.
You can find Bankaku shops, stalls, and sellers all over Nagoya. Their factory and main shop are in Tokai a city south of Nagoya (and actually my husband’s town). Bankaku has stalls at all major department stores in Nagoya including Takashimaya, Matsuzakaya, and Mitsukoshi.
Alternatively, you can also buy Bankaku Senbei at gift kiosks in Nagoya station and Nagoya Airport. To be honest it is really hard not to stumble upon Yukari while you are in Nagoya. So when you chance upon them, just don’t hesitate and buy a pack!
Final Thoughts on Ebi Senbei
Ebi Senbei are the perfect snack to take with you and eat when you get hungry. They are high in protein, and calcium and low in fat because of their base material, which is shrimp. Ebi Senbei are also a great Nagoya souvenir to give to your friends and family.
By the way, shrimp is so popular in Nagoya that they do not only make Ebi Senbei from it. There are multiple stores specialized in dishes made with shrimp (like Ebi Furai which you can try at Ebidote Shokudo) and the overall shrimp consumption of Aichi is one of the highest in the country.
If you love shrimp Nagoya is the place to indulge in the best shrimp dishes. Have you heard of Tenmusu yet? They are mini rice balls with a shrimp Tempura in the middle.
Both Ebi Senbei, as well as Tenmusu, are part of my Nagoya Meshi Food Tour, a daily food tour focused on Nagoya local food which I offer in Nagoya. If you would like to try all kinds of local specialties join me on a tour!
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In love with Japan and its amazing food, Lena wants to share her passion with the world. That’s why she started Nagoya Foodie. To teach about Nagoya, her adoptive home online through blog posts and offline through unique food tours.