Item # 122057.
This necklace was inspired by the Hana Mix senbei (rice crackers) made by the Umeya Rice Cake Company. Made from gold-plated brass and hard enamel. 17.5” chain is 18K gold-plated. Flower is ¾” diam.
In 1925, Yasuo Hamano founded the Umeya Rice Cake Company, which commenced recreating Japanese confections in the United States to sell to Japanese American communities. Initially, Umeya specialized in the sweet variety of wheat-based senbei or cracker used in fortune cookies, which were invented in California. A tangy, baked, rice-based senbei, originally only made in Japan, was imported by Umeya to sell alongside its own senbei until WWII, when supplies from Japan were cut off and Umeya had to formulate its own version.
One of the most popular of all the Umeya arare (the rice-based senbei flavored with soy sauce) was the Hana Mix, which was cut into the shape of a sakura (cherry blossom) and seasoned with bits of nori (seaweed).
When Umeya closed its factory in 2017, JANM received a generous donation of documents and artifacts from this historic business. Among the artifacts now in JANM’s permanent collection are two machines that were used to cut the shapes for the various arare. Interchangeable cylinders allowed for the various shapes to be made by a single machine. The cylinder for the sakura senbei was particularly beautiful in design and was the inspiration for the line of Sakura Senbei jewelry.