When receiving Tokyo Bananas or Shiroi Koibito cookies from someone who has recently visited Japan, do you force a strained smile and think to yourself “Oh no, not again…”? If so, you are not alone.
In fact, there are so many different (and better) omiyage (お土産, gifts/souvenirs) out there that this situation doesn’t have to happen at all! We’re not saying that the two above-mentioned snacks don’t have merits, because who can resist a Tokyo Banana covered in hearts?
In this special series, we present to you the best omiyage to buy from the northern tip to the southern end of Japan. Get ready to hop from one prefecture to another (or enlist the help of Rakuten Japan) to savour these yummy treats from the land of the rising sun!
This biscuit sandwich filled with white chocolate, raisins and pure butter is made using 100% raw milk from Hokkaido. It is also the one souvenir that all our Japanese colleagues agree is a must-buy upon visiting. Best eaten within 10 days, we suggest popping these babies in the freezer for a couple of minutes before consuming so that the filling tastes like ice-cream!
An honourable mention goes to HORI Confectionery’s Pure Jelly, made of ripened Yubari melon. Although marketed as a jelly, the texture is extremely similar to the flesh of the melon. The fragrance and juiciness also add to its similarities to the fruit. This is one of my personal favourites and highly recommended for those who love Yubari melon.
Leave it to Japan’s top producer of apple to make Kininaru Ringo (気になるリンゴ). This pie has a flaky pastry crust wrapped around an entire Fuji apple. Warm it lightly in an oven and top it off with some vanilla ice cream to create your own extravagant Apple Pie à la Mode.
These golden buns, or kinman (金萬), are filled with white bean paste. The outer skin is formed from kasutera (カステラ, Castella), a Japanese sponge cake which originated from Portugal.
With a name that literally translates to “seagulls’ egg”, Kamome no Tamago (かもめの玉子) contains white bean paste resembling the egg’s yolk. There is also a thin layer of white chocolate covering the round cake-like manjū (まんじゅう).
Made with sweet bean paste from edamame (枝豆) atop sticky mochi, zunda mochi (ずんだ餅) is a unique dish well-loved by locals in the Tohoku region. Be sure to try it fresh at a tea house if you’re there!
Yamagata is known for growing juicy, sweet and glossy sakuranbo (さくらんぼ, cherries). Sakuranbokirara contains an entire cherry wrapped in a luscious jelly and should not be missed!
PS: Or, you can skip the jelly and get fresh cherries shipped directly from Yamagata instead.
The awa manju (あわまんじゅう) takes its yellow colouring from millet (a type of grain), and has sweet bean paste in its centre. It has a short 2-day expiration period due to its sticky texture which hardens quickly.
Known as the motherland of rice, this prefecture also produces a delicious baumkuchen from Uonuma no Sato. This version uses Koshihikari rice powder from the Uonuma region of Niigata and local eggs to make a fluffy layered cake.
This collaboration between miso (Japan’s soul food) and cheese may sound odd but is known to go exceptionally well with nihonshu (日本酒, Japanese liquor) as a otsumami (おつまみ, snack).
This rare cheese tart from Nasu Kogen Cheese Garden uses only the finest cream cheese in Japan. The crisp cookie crust and thin layer of strawberry jam balances out the rich creamy filling.
And that sums up our very first list of TEN recommended omiyage to buy from Japan!