tokyo/words

Japan’s Famous Nogami Shokupan Bread: People are Lining Up for Hours for this Fluffy White Bread

Posted May 1, 2019 by Stephanie

On our last day in Tokyo, Mike asked me what I wanted to do. I said, “I’m good with anything!” And it was true, I really was. Our trip to Japan was amazing – we saw sakura, we went to an onsen with a view of Mount Fuji, and we ate some crazy delicious food. I was happy for the last day to be super casual wandering around Tokyo vibes. But then, Mike said to me, “Really?! I thought you wanted to hit up Nogami?”

At that point, all bets were off. I mean, YES OF COURSE I wanted to hit up Nogami. Nogami has been on my list for a while because I am obsessedwith fluffy white Japanese bread. I often go into a little IG black hole where I literally look at loaves of shokupan. Mike and I even hit up several cafes on this trip just so I could have heavenly slices of bread, toasted.

If you haven’t had shokupan and are curiousIf you haven’t had shokupan and are curious, it’s basically white bread that’s been baked in a pullman loaf so that the sides are completely squared off. The insides are fluffy and soft and biting into a slice is like biting into the most delicious cloud. Japanese people have perfected what they think is a perfect blank canvas for bread toppings and shokupan is fast becoming one of those small luxury food items that people line up for and wax poetic about.

One of the loaves that has been super popular is Nogami, from Osaka. The baker behind the extra soft and fluffy loaf is a 50 year old baker who wanted to change bread as Japan knows it. His aim was to create a loaf that was soft throughout, with a thin and pliable crust. In 2013, after years of research, he revealed his extra soft and fluffy loaf. He called it “nama shokupan” or fresh bread, which is kind of funny because, of course it’s fresh. But saying something is “nama” in Japan implies it’s fresh, natural, raw, and essentially good.

Japan’s Famous Nogami Shokupan Bread: People are Lining Up for Hours for this Fluffy White Bread | www.iamafoodblog.com

Japan’s Famous Nogami Shokupan Bread: People are Lining Up for Hours for this Fluffy White Bread | www.iamafoodblog.com

It turned out insanely popular, partially because it’s so good and partially because the man knows how to market. Each loaf goes for over ¥800 which makes it one of the more expensive loaves of bread for sale in Japan. Expensive price tag aside, everyone is eating it up and Nogami went from one store to 127 all across Japan. They sell over 55,000 loaves a day, which is astonishing.

Anyway, Nogami bread was definitely something I wanted to try. Would it live up to it’s hype? Would it indeed be the best bread I ever ate?

When we got to their main branch in Tokyo, the line already went past the front of their bakery on to the side. Mike had wanted to get there before they opened but somehow (okay, it was me!) we didn’t make it until after 12. The line was around the side and was mostly older ladies, younger ladies, and a couple of dudes with their ladies. I got the feeling that bread wasn’t something that dudes wanted to line up for. But then, two older construction worker type men lined up behind us, so I guess Nogami appeals to a wide range of people. Anyway, the line seemed to move both quickly and slowly. It took about 45 minutes to get into the shop, which is insane, I know. I was super grateful that Mike was down with waiting.

Japan’s Famous Nogami Shokupan Bread: People are Lining Up for Hours for this Fluffy White Bread | www.iamafoodblog.com

Japan’s Famous Nogami Shokupan Bread: People are Lining Up for Hours for this Fluffy White Bread | www.iamafoodblog.com

After we got in, we bought two whole loaves – one got a gift box because we were going to drop it off for a friend. The other loaf I carried around all dayuntil we got to the airport, where I continued to carry it. I put it on the arm rest next to me on the plane and was very, very careful not to squish it while I was sleeping.

When we got home, some 28 hours or so later after buying the loaf, I finally cut into it and we both had a slice, without toasting. Was it good? Hells yes! Was it the best loaf of shokupan I’ve ever had? Maybe not. It’s definitely one of the best, but the thing is, there are a lot of good loaves of shokupan in Japan. There’s even another bakery that has also won the same “Pan of the Year” (that’s bread of the year) award that Nogami has and doesn’t have a line. And heck, that loaf is just as good. So, if you’re wondering if Nogami is worth it, the answer is yes and no.

Mike will straight up tell you the answer is no though, if you want more of a solid straight shooting answer.

Still, I was insanely excited to have my very own loaf of Nogami right at home. We made strawberry sandwiches and katsu sandwiches and I enjoyed many slices of cheese toast and just plain fresh slices. It was truly bread heaven.

Japan’s Famous Nogami Shokupan Bread: People are Lining Up for Hours for this Fluffy White Bread | www.iamafoodblog.com

Japan’s Famous Nogami Shokupan Bread: People are Lining Up for Hours for this Fluffy White Bread | www.iamafoodblog.com

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3 Comments

  1. c says:

    I can’t get enough of your Japan stories Steph. Your commentary and Mike’s imagery complement each other so beautifully –more like reading high end magazine pieces than blog entries.
    My husband was born and raised in Japan and we’ve been fortunate to be able to take small vacations there over the past few years (our next trip is in two weeks!) so your lovely posts push all the nostalgia buttons as well. Arigato!

    1. Stephanie says:

      this is so lovely to hear c :)
      it means so much to me that you are enjoying them!

  2. natalie says:

    That bread looks HEAVENLY! Is there supposed to be a link where it says “More info here!”? I’d love to visit this place, but I’m having trouble finding it just by Googling!

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