Release | みふねたまき（Tamaki Mifune）
Niseko-Cho “Saito Seipan” bakes bread to keep the memorial place
Hi everyone! Do you like bread?
Juice some out from my mouth when I imagine eating a fluffy slice of bread or a toasted slice of bread with butter and honey.
I would like to introduce “Saito Seipan,” the bakery loved by locals of Niseko-Cho as most people imagine this bakery if they were asked where to get some bread in Niseko. Many people told me a good reputation about the bakery: “their bread is amazing” “I like their an-pan (red bean paste bun)” “I’d like to recommend their deep-fried bun.” And at the same time, my expectations kept raising.
I visited the bakery near the police box in the center of Niseko-Cho, after approximately two hours drive from Sapporo.
To keep the place and continue the history▲Akihiro Shikama lives on the second floor of “Saito Seipan” to bake.
“Saito Seipan” was established in 1953, which is 65 years ago.
They provided bread for school lunch at the peak periods so we could say that the bakery is rooted in Niseko-Cho and locals here grew up with their bread.
The bakery was famous as the shop run by the almost 90 years old couple.
Now, Akihiro Shikama bakes bread at “Saito Seipan.” He came to Hokkaido from Fukushima Prefecture to become a baker. As you can see the picture, he is a young man with a gentle smile.
He came to Hokkaido five years ago to find a work to bake. He found a position and was working at bagel and donut shop in Sapporo. However, he was asked if he was interested in working in Niseko two years ago.
“It was Mr. Hirano, the owner of SEED the bagel shop in Niseko, who asked me.” Shikama told me. He met with Mr. Hirano when he was having a part-time job at a ski resort in Niseko right after he moved to Hokkaido.
▲Takiko Saito, she is 91 years old. (The picture is taken by SEED Mr. Hirano)
After the husband passed away a few years ago, his wife Takiko was baking alone in “Saito Seipan.”
She was already 90 years old at that time. She baked irregularly and only for 10 loaves of bread, but there was a limit.
On the other hand, machines such as ovens were well-kept and worked fine. She wanted to pass the shop if there were someone willing to. She talked to Mr. Hirano about that, and it connected to Shikama.
“I heard about the shop from Hirano, met the grandma, and became to think that I want to bake in this shop to keep the place,” Shikama told.
All the machines used in the shop are generations old as if they were telling the 65 years history. Those were entirely different from what he was using at the former shop.
“I had never seen most of the machines; the oven is 45 years old, and the mixer is 50 years old, and it took a while to get used to those. However, they work totally fine. I could feel these were well-maintained and carefully used.”
▲The oven for professional-use came to the bakery in the 1970s. He uses the handles to adjust the temperature in the oven.
▲The slicer and the molding machine are both used for 50 years. Even the register is button-style.
▲The heat source of fermentation room is a coal stove! He is working on how to reduce the fuel cost as coals cost more than other fuels.
Select good ingredients and keep the simplicityShikama now lives on the second floor of “Saito Seipan” as a live-in baker.
He displays about ten kinds at the shop such as bread, red bean bun, cream bun, deep-fried bun, melon bun, chocolate cornet, etc. Everything is the standard of “Saito Seipan” and has been loved for a long time ago.
“I follow the grandpa’s recipe basically but change parts of ingredients such as changing margarine to butter and powdered skim milk to milk. Grandma still bakes bread, so I change the shape and recipe of bread I bake.
Among them, I am especially particular about the white bread. I don’t use egg and milk and carefully select Hokkaido produced flour and Mt. Yotei’s water.”
I am curious about the finished bread but let me introduce the process of baking first!
▲He stretches and rounds the dough, puts biscuits on top to shape chocolate chip melon bun.
▲The melon bun became bigger as he stored them in the fermentation room.
▲He puts buns into the oven after fermentation. Now we just wait for them to be baked.
▲How did it turn out? He checks the oven.
The freshly baked bread!As I finish introducing the process, let me introduce “Saito Seipan”’s delicious bread which was baked on the day I visited.
▲The freshly baked bread rest a while on the shelf next to the counter. It’s nice that we can purchase freshly warm bread taken out from the oven just a minute ago.
▲From the left of the top row: raisin bread (whole loaf 1,200 yen, 1/3 size 400 yen), whole wheat bread (whole loaf 900 yen, 1/3 size 300 yen), white bread (whole loaf 720 yen, 1/3 size 240 yen)
▲Shikama’s white bread. He toasted freshly baked bread with the toaster in the shop for me.
▲Everybody loves “red bean paste bun (160 yen/piece)” which has plenty of homemade red bean paste made with red bean produced in Niseko.
▲“Cream bun (160 yen/piece) also contains plenty of homemade custard cream.
▲“Cheese bread (150 yen/piece) has the wonderful smell of melted cheese.
▲As he was working at a donut shop before, he is good at frying! “Deep-fried red bean bun (180 yen/piece)” also looks great.
▲He hands over deep-fried red bean bun after he decorated with some powdered sugar.
▲“Roll bun rusk (600 yen/box)” is perfect for a souvenir. You can find it at the Michi No Eki in Niseko.
Of course, this is not everything.
He bakes standard bread that all generations would love such as roll bun which was provided for school lunch, melon bun, chocolate cornet (180 yen/piece) and curry bun (220 yen/piece) which was inspired by SEED Hirano family’s curry.
“A mother had Saito Seipan’s bread while she was pregnant and the child grew up with the same bread. These bread were loved for generations without changing. Now I have the responsibility to continue the flavor as a baker. This is quite a pressure.”
As he says like that, told me that he was happy as he can directly hand over the bread he worked hard to bake to the customers.
Cherish the connection more and more▲He is ready to open the shop when he puts out the white curtain and displays wooden bread-shaped decorations.
▲As the shop opens at 10:00 AM, he gets extremely busy as he bakes and services all by himself.
There were tables and chairs before, and the shop provided light meals.
“I guess the bakery was rooted in the lives of locals here as kids stop by after school or others come here to purchase lunch. I would like to continue baking to keep the place as I work on baking bread that people can have without considerations and protect the long-loved bread and add some new spices at the same time.”
He also provides bread to B&Bs and cafes. He is preparing delivery services for locals and long-term travelers.
“I think that the number of people and shops will keep raising in Niseko. I want to make bread that local community needs, for example, people think that they can make certain menu because there is bread from Saito Seipan.”
It will be almost two years since Shikama came to “Saito Seipan.”
He was always busy as he delivered bread to B&Bs and cafes in the neighborhood and participated in events. “I tend to be pressed for time… I wish to provide coffee with bread to make customers relax at the shop.”
On the other hand, grandma Takiko passed work to Shikama and is enjoying her free time except for baking ordered bread. She was looked happy with her smile when she was watching Shikama waking up early and baking bread.
▲We took a picture of him in front of the shop in the end. Shikama bakes bread to keep “Saito Seipan” with full of memories.
Related LinksYou can purchase “Saito Seipan”’ bread baked by Shikama at Michi No Eki Niseko View Plaza, too.
- Michi No Eki Niseko View Plaza (Instagram)
Text / Hokkaido Likers writer Tamaki Mifune
Photo / cocoon photographs Asako Yoshikawa
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