Kamakura Dove Cookies!! Hato Sabure (鳩サブレー)

By Donnie | Articles

A screen shot from the Hato Sabure (鳩サブレー) website at http://www.hato.co.jp/

Have you ever been to Kamakura before? I have been only one time and it’s definitely one of my favorite memories of Japan. I went during Obon (the week-long vacation in the summer) of 2009. Because of my friend Abasa, I was able to make a new friend out of the trip, Rei…who served as my impromptu tour guide. Anyway, Kamakura is a wonderful place with amazing matcha (green tea ice cream) and sweet potato ice cream (yep, I said sweet potato ice cream). I guess neither of those flavors are very common in the United States. When I went, I remember trying to buy souvenirs for my co-workers and one of the recommendations that Rei made were these dove-shaped cookies from a nearby cookie shop. I didn’t end up buying them or trying them, but I wanted to. Time went on and I completely forgot all about them.

One of the famous Hato Sabure, 鳩サブレー, Dove Shortbread cookies from Kamakura, Japan

Last Friday, the sixth grade students at my elementary school went on a field trip to Kamakura. I was here teaching, but at the end of the day, when I went downstairs to the teachers’ room, I saw a plastic wrapper on my desk that said Hato Sabure (鳩サブレー). I . Inside was one of those dove-shaped cookies. My Kamakura memories came rushing back. I thought about Rei, touring the temples on a hot summer afternoon, eating enough matcha ice cream to make the average person sick to their stomach (let’s just say I have a pretty high ice-cream tolerance, lol 🙂 ), and how I missed out on these cookies.

Usually, the Friday snacks at my elementary school are pretty tasty. As a result, I usually devour them as soon as I get them. This time, though, I didn’t eat the cookie right away. I was surprised to see that even for teachers that didn’t know that 6th graders went on a field trip, every one of Japanese staff members in the office looked at these cookies and immediately knew they were from Kamakura. I found that pretty interesting. So I decided to find out a bit more about this “special” cookie.

The name of the shop is also the name of the cookie. Hato, or the kanji 鳩, means pigeon or dove. The word Sabure, サブレー means shortbread in Japanese. So everyone in the office was enjoying the Dove Shortbread cookies from Kamakura. If you’re ever in the area, you may want to stop by and get one…they seem to be quite famous here in Japan.

Because these cookies are often linked to Kamakura and because so many people know of them, I sure hope this cookie tastes good. If that first nibble is good, I whole-heartedly plan on eating the crap outta this cookie!

Alright, well…It’s time for me to go eat a duck…er…umm…duck cookie.

Donald Ash

See? I'm a humane guy...I left the head. Nah, I'm lying...I ate that too.

P.S.-After writing the post, I tried the cookie. How was it? Pretty tasty. I can’t say it was a life-altering experience, but it was good. Now I can finally say I had one.

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  • Nanami says:

    ^-^ Melon bread.. have you had that yet?

  • Inka says:

    This cookie is in NO way an original Japanese cookie. It’s such an imitation of Slovenian and German Christmas cookies. Tastes exactly the same (I make those every Christmas for my son as my mum did for me).
    The only difference is the shape. Basically somebody took a European idea and now selling it as something originally Japanese. So usual.

    • Quadraphobia says:

      A lot of famous Japanese treats are “imports” reinterpreted Japanese style. This is just one of them. I think of the most famous ones is Kasutera, which is sponge cake — Pao de Castille, in Portuguese.

      The Japanese admit all of this outright. They call these “sabure” from the FRENCH “sable'”. They ARE a famous cookie from Kamakura, but they are saying the cookie didn’t originate from there, just became famous for Japanese in Kamakura.

      It’s not like McDonald’s invented the hamburger, either. 😉

    • Ardiansyah says:

      could you please give recipe how to made the coookies, please…
      I’m Ardi from Indonesia.

    • J says:

      Not just “now” selling is as an original Japanese sweet. These were introduced to Japan in 1887. As with most cultures the food was adopted and made to the tastes of the people.

  • Sheena Justice-Williams says:

    I can make those cookies. My mama knows the owner too. He is her friend. Those are Teacake cookies, people in the south of North America makes them.

  • Ardiansyah says:

    hello, I’m from Indonesia, can some_one help me to give The Recipe how to made this cookies (butter cookies) “hato sabure”, plese……

    • Donald Ash says:

      I haven’t been able to locate a hato sabure cookie recipe. I was thinking if the butter cookie recipe was the same and you had the right mold for the dove it would be cool, but those cookies don’t taste like any butter cookies I’ve ever had. I’ll keep checking, Ardi!

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