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Release | Takako Chiba

Ihara’s “Kazuchee” combines herring roe and cheese!


Kazuchee” is a product that combined luxurious food herring roe and cheese. Ihara & Co., Ltd., which has its headquarter in Rumoi, developed the product. This product shows herring roe’s true value! It’s too good that I can’t stop eating.


Table of contents

- What is Ihara’s herring roe and cheese “Kazuchee” 
- Ihara is one of the herring roe specialists in Hokkaido
- The secret of Kazuchee’s development
- The difference between crunchy and crispy textures of herring roe
- Herring roe is a health food
- Where can we buy Kazuchee? 


What is Ihara’s herring roe and cheese “Kazuchee” 

Kazuchee” is a completely new snack that created a fascinating harmony of herring roe (Kazunoko), a luxurious food we often have for new year dishes, and cheese. 


Ihara & Co., Ltd., who everyone knows for producing Kazunoko in Hokkaido, developed Kazuchee. 


“Kazuchee” came out in November 2018, and since then, it became a huge hit! 

“Is it a huge hit? I have never heard of it.” 

“You say it’s a huge hit, but I have never seen it.” 

“Where exactly is it a huge hit?” 

Some of you might have thought like that. 

Of course, you are. Since it came out, word of mouth spread about its flavor, and shops often run out of Kazuchee. It runs out very fast as soon as they put Kazuchee on shelves. It’s even sometimes out of stock at Ihara’s online shop. 

小袋から出した井原水産カズチー▲Kazuchee is difficult to buy even if I wanted. 

To summarize, Kazuchee has become almost an illusion that it’s too popular and sells too much. 


Ihara is one of the herring roe specialists in Hokkaido

Ihara & Co., Ltd. has its headquarter in Rumoi. They are a marine produce processing company established in 1954, putting their primary business on producing Kazunoko (herring roe). 

Some of you might have heard of “Yamani,” their business name. 

I visited Keiji Ihara, the president of Ihara & Co., Ltd., to ask about the relation between Ihara & Co., Ltd. and Kazunoko. 

井原水産(株)代表取締役社長、井原慶児さん▲Keiji Ihara, the president of Ihara & Co., Ltd.

In 1954, the economy on the west side, which is on the side of the Sea of Japan, was excellent because they had a massive catch of herrings. Ihara’s father thought producing Kazunoko with herring roe will become a huge business and established the company. However, the catch of herrings decreased suddenly from 1954. 

They could still catch some near the Sea of Okhotsk, so he stocked herrings there and carried them to Rumoi. At that time, the price of herrings depended on how much the percentage of matured eggs a herring carried. 

ニシン* The picture is for an image. 

Some of the herrings that he bought had immature eggs, and he could buy them at a low price. 

“Did you know that eggs of herrings grow even after we catch them? Eggs (Kazunoko) grow even if their mother (herring) is dead.” Ihara says. 

Thanks to this characteristic of herrings, immature eggs became fully matured during the four-day journey to Rumoi from Okhotsk. 

井原水産の塩数の子* A provided picture

The eggs were completely matured, and herrings had big stomachs by the time he arrived at Rumoi. The profit was way bigger than transportation costs and transaction fees. 

「数の子をもっともっと広めたい」と語る井原社長▲“I want to make Kazunoko business much much bigger,” Ihara says. 

Later catching herrings in Japan became much harder. He searched herrings from outside of Japan and started to import herring roe from Canada, Alaska, etc. 

Ihara & Co., Ltd. now become one of the most famous companies in Hokkaido by manufacturing and selling varieties of marine processed products: their primary product salt Kazunoko, flavored Kazunoko, dried Kazunoko, various other processed foods using herrings, cod roe, ikura, etc.  


The secret of Kazuchee’s development

Kazunoko is most-known for the new year’s dish. Because it’s the key product for Ihara, their factories are bustling until new year holidays every year. 

箸で数の子を持つ* The picture is for an image. 

“However, we don’t have any work after the new year holidays,” Ihara said. 

Therefore, the staffs of Ihara have always thought about a new product using Kazunoko that would make people have it throughout the year. 

One day, an employee of Ihara talked with a delicacy manufacturer at a business conference in Hokkaido about making a new delicacy using Kazunoko. It was the beginning of everything. That happened in 2016. 

However, they had many obstacles. Kazunoko is difficult to preserve for many days and distribute at a normal temperature. 

Still, Ihara found a clue. He discovered the matching of Kazunoko and cheese is quite well when he had a cheese fondue of Kazunoko at the gathering of the Canadian Pacific Kazunoko Association. 

They did many experiments: putting Kazunoko on cheese, in between cheese, changed flavors of Kazunoko from salt removed Kazunoko to flavored Kazunoko, etc. However, cheese and Kazunoko did not mix well, or they could not discover a perfect balance for a long time.

One day, they decided to smoke Kazunoko. 

They smoked “Flavored Kazunoko Osumitsuki,” Kazunoko flavored with dashi broth, the popular product of Ihara. 

井原水産の人気商品「味付き数の子 御寿味付」▲Ihara’s popular product “Flavored Kazunoko Osumitsuki” (250g), 2,754 yen (including tax). They smoked this product and used it for Kazuchee. 
* A provided picture

They discovered the answer! 

From then, they went straight to manufacturing Kazuchee. 

They tried to turn it into a product which adults and children can enjoy alike, can be preserved at a normal temperature, small in size that people can pick up casually, and low price under 500 yen. 

“Kazuchee” was born like that. 


The hit does not start from Hokkaido. It was “KALDI COFFEE FARM” in the Kanto Region. 

Word of mouth spread gradually. Celebrities wrote about “Kazuchee” on their blog, etc., when they got it as a present. The sales became larger and larger. 

“I was very impressed by word of mouth on the internet,” Ihara said. 

When he went to a business meeting, people told him that they were waiting for it. Samples disappear instantly, and he got additional orders soon after beginning a new deal. It was like a Kazuchee festival. 

When I visited Ihara (May 2019), they did not have much in stock and could not ship even if they got an order. They will work on increasing the production line to deal with this problem. 

They said that the stock would increase after summer. 


The difference between crunchy and crispy textures of herring roe

By the way, have you ever noticed the different textures of Kazunoko: crunchy and crispy? 

The texture changes depending on where herrings grow; if it’s on the Pacific Ocean side of the Atlantic Ocean side, in fact. 

The Pacific Ocean has rough waves and a fast sweep of the tide. Therefore, herrings spawn their eggs on kelps so that eggs don’t flow. 

This kelp turns into Komochi Kombu. 

子持ち昆布▲Komochi Kombu. 
* A provided picture

It means that eggs are sticky that it can stick on kelps. Therefore, Kazunoko of herrings caught on the Pacific Ocean side has crunchy textures. 

These Kazunoko with crunchy textures are called “Hon-Chan.” 

On the other hand, the Atlantic Ocean has calm waves, and the sea is deep. Therefore, herrings spawn into the sea. Eggs are not that sticky and contain a lot of water content. Kazunoko of herrings caught on the Atlantic Ocean side does not have strong textures, and it’s more crispy. 

“Flavored Kazunoko Osumitsuki,” the Kazunoko they smoke to use for Kazuchee, uses Hon-Chan with crunchy textures. So, Kazuchee also has crunchy textures when you chew.

太平洋産の本ちゃんかずのこ▲Kazuchee uses crunchy Kazunoko caught in the Pacific Ocean. 
* A provided picture

When I have Kazuchee, I feel the excellent matching of mild textures of cheese and strong crunchy texture. 

The size of a piece is about a coin so that you can have with one bite. However, I recommend having only half of it first. 

You will be able to feel the crunchy texture of Kazunoko enough with just one bite. 

井原水産カズチーのアップ▲Can you see each piece of Kazunoko clearly? It creates the right texture. 

And then, have the remaining half. 

You will be holding the next piece of Kazuchee and opening it before noticing. This time, have it with one bite. 

And you will hold another Kazuchee…

This is called the infinite loop of Kazuchee. 


Herring roe is a health food

Fish eggs had negative impressions that contain high cholesterol in the past.  

However, after various studies, we have discovered that the fat of Kazunoko contains much functional nutrition, such as DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (Eicosapentaenoic acid). 

DHA and EPA have good effects such as prevention of arteriosclerosis, lowering blood pressure, anti-obesity, decreasing allergies, anti-cancer effects, maintaining brain function, etc., and expected to prevent lifestyle diseases. 

井原水産の健康数の子▲Ihara’s Kenko Kazunoko (Healthy Kazunoko)
* A provided picture

If you still have old information about Kazunoko that it has too much cholesterol or it causes gout, you are missing a lot! 

Kazunoko is recently noted as a health food containing various nutrition. You are welcome to have Kazunoko other than new year holidays! 


Where can we buy Kazuchee?

They say that most of the souvenir shops in Shin-Chitose Airport offer Kazuchee. However, they sell out in early hours, so you better hurry.

カズチー一袋(7個入り)430円(税込み)▲One bag of Kazuchee contains seven pieces. 

They also offer department stores in Sapporo City, such as Sapporo Mitsukoshi, Marui Imai Sapporo, and Tokyu Department Store Sapporo. 

There is a wagon of “Kazuchee” in Ito Yokado on the basement floor of LAFILER in Susukino. The wagon is usually put on the right side of the closes escalator of LAFILER when you visit from Metro Susukino Station. (As of May 2019) 

Try visiting KALDI, Seijo Ishii, and Kinokuniya if you are outside of Hokkaido. 

It’s not distributed all over Japan yet. If you can’t find in your neighborhood, visit the online shop of Ihara or Kazuchee.com.

Kazuchee matches well not only with beer but also wines. 

It is nice to have it on your own, but it’s also great for a souvenir from Hokkaido as it’s not expensive. 

However, if you fell in the infinite loop of Kazuchee, you might have it on your own even though if you bought it for someone.

Because it’s too delicious! I can’t help! 

Related Links

- Kazuchee
- Ihara & Co., Ltd.
- Ihara & Co., Ltd. online shop
  • Ihara’s “Kazuchee” combines herring roe and cheese!

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Takako Chiba