The Senbei Cafe

June 9th, 2010By Category: Starting a Business

This is Takako Endo (遠藤 貴子) – the lady entrepreneur behind a new food brand, Twhy Twhy. Tokyoite Takako has just launched the new website – www.senbeicafe.com – from which she sells senbei (rice crackers) in a variety of cool and unusual flavors. For example, visit the site and you can order cheese, curry, shrimp and so on.

A couple of weeks ago we got together to chat about her new business and about Takako-san’s experience setting up and running her company. Japan does not have too many girls who go out and make their own businesses (unless you count this) nd it is more than a little unusual to see the younger generation getting into the senbei business.

Takako-san got inspired to do more with senbei after a number of her foreign friends made a lot of bad comments about senbei – usually regarding the smell. Being a fan of the crispy snack, she wanted to show the variety that was possible – not just the usual soy source type.

Her favorite flavor from among her shop’s selection is the Camembert cheese. It smells really good and has a very rich flavor. It also matches very well with wine! Takako’s senbei uses the ingredients that she has gathered from all over Japan and then added to in her own way. First-grade rice from Niigata forms the basis of each senbei and then on top of that, you can find beans from Hokkaido, shrimp from the Seto inland sea, while the Camembert cheese comes from Denmark.

Look closely at the Twhy Twhy logo and you can see it makes up an enso symbol of many different images – all related to how the senbei are made. Starting from the left, it is the icon of Niigata Prefecture, then a picture of first-grade rice, then the grained rice, then the dough… this is a picture of the drying senbei, then a senbei specialist, the packaging… and finally a picture of happy customers. And the name? Twhy Twhy is pronounced tsui tsui (ついつい), which is an expression in Japanese meaning ‘can’t stop eating~!’

Of course, setting up a business is always full of challenges, too. One that Takako-san encountered was about how to keep her senbei fresh. To do that, she spent more than a year traveling all over Japan to find a factory that could handle her requests. She eventually found one that could handle air-tight packaging which keeps the senbei fresh for up to 6 months. In the future you can see even more flavors added to the Twhy Twhy line up.  If there is one you want to see you can recommend one to Takako herself on her facebook page or by following her on twitter. Visit the Twhy Twhy online shop at www.senbeicafe.com and if you fancy it, take a bite.

 

Author of this article

GaijinPot

GaijinPot is an online community for foreigners living in Japan, providing information on everything you need to know about enjoying life here, from finding a job and accommodation to having fun.

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Comments

  • Carter says:

    Camembert from Denmark? Is that like Champagne from South Africa or houmous from India? Good that she's keeping the ingredients original…

  • Never better evaluation than the upper article says,.And I am very pleased I read it by accident.I will go a sightseeing here again ,and of course ,I will tell my friend here I hope more better thing can be whrite in here.I have so many profound or funny thing do benefits to our daily life.By the way,here are some sites also useful for life,such as shopping online,just have a look.

  • duceduc™ says:

    More power to her. Good luck.

  • Kylin88 says:

    hmm.. I may like shrimp and camembert flavor, will try some.

  • Elfunko says:

    Wierdest name I've seen in Japan yet. Good luck with that one

  • Liamoko says:

    Best of luck to you!

  • Guest says:

    Wow that's such a cool idea! But I didn't know that foreigners think senbei is smelly… also Twhy Twhy looks like it would be pronounced “tuai tuai” not “tsui tsui”.

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