Itoin Senbei

Gosei: Harita-ya (播田屋)
Gomei: Thread Seal Cookies (Itoin Senbei)
Type: Yaki-kashi?
Ingredients: Wheat, Sugar, Egg, Salt, Emulsifier

These small, sweet senbei I bought in Ise, when I went to pay my respects. They have a very light and crispy texture that makes them easy to eat. They were first manufactured in Meiji 38 (1905), to offer to the Meiji Emperor on the ocasion of his visit to the famed Ise Jingu Shrine.
Each senbei has the impression of a different ito-in seal stamped on top. Ito-in seals are a type of button-sized copper seals that were attached to bundles of silk threads imported from China. They were adopted by Japan in the Muromachi period and were consequently used to mark all sorts of transactions. Each seal contains rather a rather mysterious design to which were attached fanciful names. I am afraid I’ve been unable to make any sense of their meaning. Can you?

The cookies still wrapped in their paper. The green and white paper beneath wrapped the original box they were all packed in and is decorated with Haritaya’s logo and seal impressions. It is currently serving a second life as a book cover for my copy of “Nationalism and Internationalism in Imperial Japan.”

Perhaps you can better see the seal impression better in this photograph

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