Mamegen storefront (Photo: Peter Lin)

Mamegen in Azabu-Juban

Traditional Japanese snack store in Azabu-Juban

Peter Lin   - 2 min read

Mamegen is a traditional bean snack store located on the main shopping street in the upscale neighborhood of Azabu-Juban. This shop has been around since 1865 and the owner is currently in the 6th generation. The store has nine branches throughout Tokyo including in department stores. The Azabu-Juban area is known for its sophisticated feel, walkable neighborhood streets and an abundance of traditional Japanese stores selling a variety of goods including yakitori, oden, karintou (sweet fried dough crackers), and taiyaki.

"Mame" in Japanese means "bean," so the majority of snacks are bean-related, although there are much more. The best selling item at Mamegen is the otoboke mame, an assortment of ball-shaped bean snacks flavored in shrimp, seaweed and shredded seaweed (laver). Other items include flavored peas, shrimp flavored peanuts, flavored broad beans and the fragrant and delicious shio okaki, or deep fried puffed rice crackers. In the front of the store and through the window, the cooks can be seen frying the rice crackers in an open kitchen, and the aroma permeates the store, inviting customers to try. The shio okaki are best enjoyed fresh, and they can be purchased by the bag close to the cooking area.

There are over 90 different varieties of snacks throughout the stores in various sweet and savory flavors including the traditional (curry, seaweed, salted) and the more unusual (mozzarella and almond).  Each generation of owners has continued the tradition of original flavors as well as added new ones, increasing the variety. Everything is packaged in small bags that are perfect as gifts or souvenirs to bring back home. The shelf life for the snacks is about a month. The staff are gracious and friendly and the prices are affordable. Azabu-Juban neighborhood is worth taking a trip to, and Mamegen is a must see for those into traditional Japanese snacks. The store is open daily from 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.

Getting there

Mamegen is close to Azabu-Juban Station on the Namboku or Oedo lines. Exit 7 or 4 is closest to the shop.

Peter Lin

Peter Lin @peter.lin

I first visited Japan in 2001 and since then have returned many times. With the efficiency and reliability of its transportation, the graciousness of the people, and the dedication to quality in food and service, Japan has been my standard for modern travel convenience. Every return has reminded...