Kaminari-okoshi: Asakusa Thunder Crackers
Japanese Sweets in Asakusa as Omiyage Souvenirs
Kaminari-okoshi （雷おこし） are traditional Japanese sweets. Crispy rice is mixed with sugar and syrup, pressed down into a flat shape and cut into squares. Often there are some peanuts mixed into it, but there are also many other flavors such as macha green tea and sesame. The added ingredients give the sweets different colors.
Kaminari-okoshi are very popular souvenirs from the Asakusa area in Tokyo. Many Japanese people buy souvenirs, called omiyage （お土産） in Japanese, as gifts for friends, family, and coworkers when they take a trip. Local food products are especially popular omiyage and there are always some famous products associated with a region, called meibutsu （名物）. It is said that Kaminari-okoshi originated in Asakusa and started to be sold during the mid-Edo period near the Kaminarimon gate, Senso-ji temple's "thunder gate".
Kaminari-okoshi near Kaminari-mon
Many shops around Senso-ji sell the sweet today, and the Tokiwado Kaminari-okoshi shop （常盤堂雷おこし本舗） on the left side of Kaminari-mon specialises in this sweet. You can watch Kaminari-okoshi being made here by hand and try them fresh. After the rice and sugar are mixed it only takes a few minutes to form and cut the sweets. They will be sold immediately, so watch for a while and try some while they are still warm. A small cup full costs 100 Yen.
Kaminari is the Japanese word for thunder. Kaminari-okoshi boxes and packs are often decorated with Raijin, the god of thunder and lightning. One of the big statues standing inside the Kaminarimon gate is Raijin. When you stand in front of the gate looking towards the temple, Raijin is on the left side of the big lantern. The statue on the other side is Fujin, the god of wind. You can find them at other temples as well.