Meibutsu Delicacies: Kamakura's Hato Sabure (Dove Shortbread Cookies!)

For most travelers staying in the Kanto area during their Japan journey, the Kamakura Daibutsu (big Buddha) will probably be on the list.  After all, it is one of the most iconic sites in all of Japan, and the surrounding seaside area is amazing for a number of reasons (beautiful sunsets, the iconic Enoden railway. etc.).  Certainly, it is one of my top recommendations to visit if you plan to stay in the area around Tokyo.
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So what about souvenirs or treats to bring home from your Kamakura trip?  Given the grandeur and history of the Daibutsu, you may think that the meibutsu (local specialty) delicacy would also be something traditional, like manju (bean-filled pastry) or osembe (rice crackers).  Actually, it's something far more contemporary: a shortbread cookie in the shape of a bird known as...

...Hato Sabure

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Literally translated as "Dove Shortbread," these cookies have been around for over a hundred years.  They are the product of a confectionery shop called "Tamashiya," a local favorite in Kamakura.  Over time, the store became a mainstay in the area, as did the uniquely shaped cookies.  In fact, it almost became tradition for folks visiting the Daibutsu also to visit Tamashiya (part of their story they fondly retell in little pamphlets included in each cookie tin).

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Eventually, the store's meibutsu product, the Dove Shortbread cookies, became the item to bring home for friends, family, and coworkers.

If you happen to be thinking, "If I've had one shortbread cookie, I've had them all," the Hato Sabure will make you think again. 
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The cookies use less sugar than western counterparts, and the texture is crunchier than the average shortbread cookie.  That allows for two things: (1) the other flavors of the cookie to shine, and (2) providing a cookie that keeps well whether eating it freshly made or later on down the road (something that would have been especially important for travelers a hundred years ago!)
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So where can you pick up these delightful cookies?  Tamashiya has a number of shops in Kamakura now, but if you're heading over to see the Kamakura Daibutsu, the closest Tamashiya storefront is located just a few minute walk away:

So there you have it...

...Kamakura's meibutsu Dove shortbread cookies!  If you do happen to make it down to see the Big Buddha, or if you're just in Kamakura to enjoy the seaside sites (and the iconic Enoden trainline), I say zehi, give these local specialties a taste!

Mike B