Shinise (I): Hokkaido Dice Caramel
As you step through the door of the Shinise, a wave of tranquility washes over you. The soft tinkling of a traditional bell announces your arrival, and the scent of incense lingers in the air, creating an atmosphere of serenity. Inside, you find yourself surrounded by displays of exquisite craftsmanship, each item meticulously arranged with care and reverence.
Hokkaido Dice Caramel -- Founded in 1919
Hakodate City, located in the southeast of Hokkaido's Oshima Peninsula, is the central city of the Donan region, ranking third in population after Sapporo and Asahikawa. The name "Hakodate" has two possible origins: one suggests it comes from the shape of a box-like mansion built by the influential Kono Masamichi on the northern slope of Mount Hakodate, while the other theory proposes its origin from the Ainu word "Hakuchan," meaning "shallow fortress." During the Edo era, Hakodate thrived as a natural harbor and a hub for seafood trade, along with Matsumae and Esashi, known as the "Three Harbors of Ezo" (Ezo being the old name for Hokkaido). It became Japan's first open port for foreign trade in 1859 under the Treaty of Amity and Commerce between Japan and the United States. Hakodate boasts a rich food culture, offering diverse seafood dishes like squid and sushi, international cuisines, local specialties such as Hakodate ramen, and a wide range of traditional Japanese and Western confectioneries ("Hakodate sweets"). The city is home to many long-established establishments.
Donan Shokuhin, originally focused on biscuit manufacturing, can be found a short walk from Chiyodai Station or a 10-minute drive from Hakodate Station. Founded as Hakodate Kashi Seizo Kabushiki Kaisha (Hakodate Confectionery Manufacturing Co., Ltd.) in 1919, it began with the production of biscuits. In 1936, the company merged with Meiji Seika and transformed into the confectionery factory in Hakodate, specializing in various sweets, with Dice Caramel as its flagship product. In 1980, Donan Shokuhin was established and has since continued to manufacture confectioneries as part of the Meiji Seika Group.
Dounan Shokuhin is renowned for its Hokkaido Saikoro Caramel. Originally a product of Meiji, Dice Caramel was sold from October 1927 until March 2016. Since June 2016, Donan Shokuhin, a subsidiary of Meiji, has taken over the production, resulting in the renaming of the caramel to "Hokkaido Dice Caramel" and a switch to locally sourced ingredients from Hokkaido.
The Hokkaido Dice Caramel has a small cube-like appearance with embossed patterns on each face, making it visually appealing. It typically comes in shades of deep brown or light yellow and carries a subtle caramel aroma.
In terms of texture, Hokkaido Dice Caramel is delightfully crispy, creating a satisfying crunch when bitten into. Its texture is crunchy but not overly hard, melting easily in the mouth. The caramel has a balanced sweetness with hints of creamy and caramel flavors, providing a warm and comforting sensation.
In addition to the classic version of Hokkaido Dice Caramel, there are also other flavored variations available.
Address: 14-32 Chiyogadaicho, Hakodate, Hokkaido
photo from: https://www.dounan.co.jp/products/caramel/#caramel_1