In the Land of Bakeries
Since my last blog was about coffee, it seems fitting that I should follow up with a blog about baked goods. Just when I think I have seen every boulangerie and patisserie in town, another one appears and I feel like I’m starting all over again. There seems to be no end. I’m caught in a perpetual loop. Didn’t T.S. Eliot write that the end of exploration is finding yourself back at the beginning again? How such a small town can support so many bakeries is a mystery.
To be clear, boulangeries specialize in breads; patisseries specialize in pastries. I have noticed that some shops cross over the boundary and serve both. I am just going to call them bakeries. Whatever they are, they are everywhere. There are the obvious shops. . . the ones along the busy streets with identifiable store fronts and a staff that is constantly bringing fresh items from the back ovens. There are those at the train station that provide cafeteria trays and tongs for you to select as many pastries as you can carry. There are signs whose arrows point you down alleyways to smaller, local bakeries. And then there’s the truly off-the-beaten-path bakeries back in the neighborhoods where someone has decided to open the front door of their home and serve you their delicious creations straight from their kitchen.
I am not placing judgment on any of them, because they are all fabulous. My goal is to eat my way through all of them while trying to avoid getting diabetes. It’s truly amazing to me that the local population stays thin, despite these temptations. It might explain why there seems to be a dentist on every street corner, however. Nonetheless, I’m forging ahead. It’s a delicious job and somebody has to do it.
I’ll profile some of the quintessential bakeries that I have encountered so far. These are the warm and friendly kind of shops where the smell of fresh bread envelopes you as soon as you walk in the door. These are the places where you can actually see the ovens and cooling tables in the back room. Please keep in mind that my list below is just a fraction of the bakeries available in Kamakura, but I have to start somewhere, right? They are listed in alphabetical order.
I accidentally discovered 24 Sekki on a walk to find the former Hojo family residence. 24 Sekki is located just past the third tunnel west of Kamakura Station. Cozy, friendly, and vegan. Their breads are delicious and they serve soup and sandwiches as well. We took our dogs and sat out front along the canal to have our lunch.
This shop is popular enough to have two locations. One is just east of Hachimangu Shrine on the main road into town. The other shop is on Yuigahama Street near Hase Station. They both serve delicious German-style breads and light, fruity pastries. We recently had a pastry with oranges and chocolate that was amazing. You can also sit down for lunch and get German-style food at their cafe.
This is quite possibly our favorite bakery in town. You won’t find them on social media. It’s a quiet little bakery across from the Gokurakuji Station. They make some amazing fruit pastries, croissants, and other delicious items. One of our favorite things here is the bread stuffed with a slab of real butter and Anko, a sweet red bean paste. Luckily, they are located far enough away from our house or I would be there every day and start to look like a Sumo wrestler.
If you are at Yuigahama Beach and craving fresh baked bread, this is your closest place. They have a nice selection and you can even get a gelato sandwich here on those hot summer days.
You can find Lilian on a diagonal street between the Kinokuniya grocery store and Onari Dori. It’s a great bakery, but what we love about it is that in the front window, they post their baking schedule for when they will be bringing certain items out of the oven. If you can set the alarm on your smartphone and you like warm baked goods, this is your place.
Down a narrow neko michi (cat path) off Onari Dori or right on the main street of Wakamiya Oji, these two bakeries knead some wonderful, hearty breads and offer a wide selection. The shop off Onari Dori also has seating upstairs. The atmosphere is cute and cozy, just the sort of place that makes a warm and happy loaf of bread. I recommend their fruit and nut rolls.
This is a nice, quality French-style bread shop located right behind the Roku Jizo. For those of you who only speak English, the Roku Jizo are the six little buddha statues dressed in red hats along Yuigahama Street. Their breads are light and chewy and in high demand from the locals, so come early because by the middle of the afternoon, inventory is almost gone.
The owner of Mamane is proof that bakers are the friendliest people. This is a great little bakery in Zaimokuza that serves hearty homemade breads. She uses wheat from Hokkaido in her baking. You can find the shop right around the corner from Create grocery store. Just follow the smell of freshly baked bread. It’s a relaxed little shop near the beach. She also sells some cute t-shirts.
The name sounds more like a radio station than a bakery, but this tiny place offers French-style breads with a variety of fruits and nuts, including chestnuts. They also have cheese potato rolls and delicious sandwiches. They are so small that there is only a walk up window. When the weather is cold they put a space heater outside to keep you warm as you wait.
Located inside the Renbai (farmer’s market) near Kamakura station. They make unique focaccia bread with a variety of toppings. They have seating inside and you can enjoy their bread with soup and salad while surrounded in a farmer’s market atmosphere. The shop will make you feel like you’ve stepped back to the 1960s hippie days.
This is a Finnish bakery that serves a large selection of Nordic-style breads. The baker is a friendly, authentic Scandinavian man who opened this cute little bakery last year that is nestled between Komachi Street and Wakamiya Oji. There are also some seats in the back of the shop that overlook a lovely Japanese garden.
We stumbled upon Tori To Ki while walking our dogs in the Sasamemachi neighborhood north of Yuigahama Street. It was closed, so we had to return later to sample her creations. A very friendly neighborhood woman decided to open the front of her home as a bakery and she is only open on Saturday mornings, so plan your trip accordingly. She makes some wonderful breads.