Ask anyone who plans on traveling to Japan what foods they want to try while visiting and you’re likely to hear some predictable answers. Many people have plans to try sushi and ramen. Sometimes you’ll even get a brave traveler interested in trying fugu, also referred to as blowfish, which is known for its toxicity if not properly prepared. One thing you won’t often hear though is bread or pastry.
Although it’s true that visions of cream puffs, turnovers and fluffy loaves of bread don’t come to mind when thinking of Japan you may be surprised to find out that there are some fantastic bakeries here. One of these fantastic bakeries is Andersen Iwakuni located right outside JR Iwakuni Station in Yamaguchi Prefecture.
The Andersen Institute of Bread & Life, the larger company that includes various bakeries and cafes one of which being Andersen Iwakuni, got its start around August 1948 in Hiroshima. Like many other businesses this one started off small with only the owner Shunsuke Takaki, his wife Akiko and two other staff members. Over time the business would grow and undergo many changes. One of these changes would come following a visit to Europe in 1959 and Mr Takaki’s encounter with Danish pastry. The pastry made such a positive impact on Mr Takaki that only three short years later, in 1962, his bakeries start to sell Danish style pastries to customers in Japan. The success of this bakery would lead to nationwide sales, a factory in America and multiple locations including one in Østerbro, Copenhagen. Despite all this success over the years there has been no sacrifice of service or quality. In fact many locations, much like Andersen Iwakuni, are still functioning like they would have years ago.
Very much like the branch that opened in Hiroshima during October of 1967 the Andersen Iwakuni location is a self-service bakery. Trays and tongs are provided at the entrance which allows customers to choose the pastries they would like. Once the selection has been made the items can be brought to the counter where staff will package, tally and charge you for your order. Although the offerings at Andersen Iwakuni are primarily intended to be brought home with you there is a small seating area so customers can enjoy their pastries at the bakery itself. Despite being available seating is limited so those with large groups may want to take this into consideration.
If the selection on display through the large windows of Andersen Iwakuni doesn’t impress you a step inside surely will. Large fresh loaves of bread, including types not commonly found in Japan like walnut and rye, fill the shelves along side multiple types of pastries. For those searching for a light meal Andersen Iwakuni also offers a wide variety of items such as pizza, pasta, fried chicken and sandwiches that are unlike anything you’ll find in a convenience store of supermarket. You can also find specialty items such as cocoanut oil, extra virgin olive oil, butter and cream cheese on the shelves.
Possibly the best and most notable thing about Andersen Iwakuni, aside from the offerings themselves, is the price. Andersen Iwakuni sells gourmet items without the gourmet price. This makes it easy to stop in and grab breakfast, lunch or a snack without breaking the bank. The location is also quite convenient for those making their way back to the station after a day of enjoying the city.
Shop information (in Japanese): http://www.andersen.co.jp/