Hato Sabure (鳩サブレー) is a very popular cookie from Kamakura, Japan. The store, Teshimaya (豊島屋), which makes the cookies has been open since the Meiji period (1868) when western goods started to flow into Japan. Kyujiro Kubota, the first owner of Teshimaya , was able to get a hold of European biscuits and decided to try and make some himself. The cookies are very simple because at the time the primary ingredient, butter, was extremely hard to get a hold of in Japan and Kyujiro wanted to accentuate the light butter flavor.
Current original store location in Kamakura. There are many stores like this one, located through out Japan.
So where did the name Hato Sabure (鳩サブレー) come from? Hato (鳩) means dove, and the most famous shrines in Kamakura, the Tsurugaoka Hachimangu (鶴岡八幡宮), has the character for “hachi” (八) shaped to look like a dove so Kyujiro decided to make his cookies in the shape of a dove to honor the shrine. Sable is a French word for butter cookie and once translated into Japanese, the pronunciation became similar to the common boy’s name “Saburo” (三郎). It is said that the store owner, Kyujiro, even became known around town as “Hato Saburo” (Dove Saburo) after the success of his cookies.
Character for Hato (dove)
Logo of the store
Let’s get to what really matters; how are the cookies.
Packaging: Like all Japanese things, the packaging is nicely done. The box that I got came in a small cardboard box shaped like a bag, so it had a handle which made it easy to carry around. Inside, there were four individually wrapped cookies with perfectly displayed dove shaped cookies in clear wrappers, making it look very appetizing. Each cookie is a little over $1 and while I got a pack of 4, you can buy them individually or get a larger package.
Taste: The moment you open the package, you instantly get the smell of freshly baked cookies. The texture of the cookie is one of the highlights as it has the right amount of crispiness and crumbliness (is that a word?) albeit a bit more on the crispier side. It has a gentle and light texture and leaves no oily residue on your hands. Flavor wise, it’s simple and uncomplicated, yet tasty. It’s not as sweet or buttery as many short-bread cookies that you might find in the States, as it’s much lighter but personally I prefer that.
I felt bad biting into the cookie and eating the head of the dove
TLDR: Simple, light butter short-bread cookies with great packaging and crispy texture. Worth getting, but might be slightly overhyped due to its history.
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