In particular, an uncommon find from his childhood will never go stale in his mind.

Tobu Pan Chokubaisho is only a one-minute walk from Tokyo’s Kami-Itabashi Station on the Tobu Tojo train line. The wholesale business was established in 1939 and sells bread to cafes, restaurants, supermarkets, department stores, and hotels, in addition to grade schools in Tokyo’s Itabashi, Nerima, and Toshima Wards. In other words, it sounds like the perfect destination for our bread-loving Japanese-language reporter Mr. Sato, that guy who once ate so much bread that he ascended to carb heaven.

▼ A sign for Tobu Pan Chokubaisho

While the storefront itself is open between 8:30 a.m. and 3 p.m., there are two 24-hour vending machines stationed outside in case someone kneads a quick bread fix outside of business hours.

▼ Perfect for night snackers or early risers!

One thing to note is that the store is closed on Saturdays and the days before public holidays.

Upon entering the store, Mr. Sato was met by the sight of many, many loaves of bread, baked goods, small dishes, and even sandwiches. To top it off, there were plenty of each kind to choose from. He stood still for a moment, just taking in the sight and being enveloped in the heavenly aroma of it all.

He really wanted to buy some of the sandwiches and steamed cheese buns that were in the refrigerated showcase, but he hadn’t brought any kind of cooler (how crumby). He instead opted to go for the things that were unique to this place.

First up was this chocolate chip melon bread for 150 yen (US$106).

After that, he got three items from the previous day, which were marked down and came to a total of 300 yen. This bundle included curry bread (usually 130 yen), ground mincemeat cutlet bread (usually 140 yen), and two plain croissants. It was a total bargain.

A unique find, but perhaps more common for a bread factory, was a bag filled with loaf end pieces. Sure, they aren’t everyone’s favorite, but he was in no place to discriminate when 10 slices came to only 140 yen. He was seriously on a roll here. They also reminded him of years past when he lived on his own and there was a bakery on the first floor of his apartment building. He used to buy these a lot then because they were so cheap.

The next find made him happiest of all–fried bread crusts (110 yen). This was a common snack when he was a child and made him seriously ponder moving closer to the store just to be able to eat these every day.

All together, everything came to 700 yen. Surely there was no butter deal to be found anywhere.

▼ He left the store with plenty of dough in his pockets, in two senses of the word.

With that, Mr. Sato couldn’t help himself and immediately took a bite out of one of the croissants. Despite being a day old, it was soft with a strong, buttery flavor. He felt like he had eaten this same one at a breakfast buffet somewhere before. He imagined toasting it in the toaster oven and enhancing the texture even more.

Next he tried a fried bread crust. It was absolutely loaded with sugar and so, so sweet. He was expecting it to be fairly hard and crunchy, but it turned out to be more of the spongy kind. That wasn’t a bad thing, though–it was equally as delicious as his imagined version.

While wrapped up in his nostalgic thoughts, Mr. Sato also realized how envious he was of people who live near a bread factory and get to eat this kind of fresh bread every day. That thought alone almost made him want to cry, but he cut it off before it could go baking his heart.

For more cheap, delicious bread in a slightly more convenient part of downtown Tokyo, maybe Mr. Sato should visit the Muji Ginza Bakery for his daily carb fix.

Store information
Tobu Pan Chokubaisho / 東武パン直売所
Address: Tokyo-to, Itabashi-ku, Kami-Itabashi 2-34-12
東京都板橋区上板橋 2-34-12
Open 8:30 a.m.-3 p.m.
Closed: Saturdays and the day before public holidays

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[ Read in Japanese ]