Famous Regional Omiyage Across Japan

Famous Regional Omiyage Across Japan

A few months ago I talked about omiyage in Japan. A lot of people seemed intrigued about this aspect of Japanese culture so I thought I’d talk more about famous omiyage throughout the different regions of the country.

If you don’t remember what an omiyage is, it’s like an obligatory souvenir that you bring back to give others, but yet, it’s so much more than that.

When looking through the list of popular items, you’ll probably notice a common theme—food. Yes, most of the most coveted omiyage tends to be food products that are the specialty of the region.

So here’s a list of the most popular omiyage by region incase you’re panicking over what to bring back or for if you just want to buy it for yourself to eat; hey, I’m not judging you. Especially if you’re in Tokyo or Hokkaido…yum!

Tokyo– Tokyo Banana

Hong Kong

The Twinkie of Japan. But don’t let that statement deter you, these soft cream-filled cakes are actually good unlike their American distant-cousins. You’ll see stands for these treats everywhere in Tokyo, and even Tokyo Banana merchandise like cellphone charms and plushies. They are truly the perfect Tokyo souvenir.

You might want to buy a box or two to bring home, but make sure they’re tucked in your bag or else you might have an unwanted mix up at immigration when they see the word “banana” on the box!

Kyoto– Matcha

Kyoto - 2011

Kyoto is known for many things, but above all else it’s known for green tea, or matcha. Tea was said to have been first cultivated here, and even today you’ll still find traditional tea ceremonies going on throughout the city. Especially in Uji, you can find matcha flavored everything: cakes, candy, coffee, you name it. The tea leaves in Uji have been considered the best you can get since 1100. Yes, you read that right- 1100.

Osaka– Glico Products

Known for many of Japan’s most-beloved snacks, including Pocky, Glico is one of the most recognizable food brands in all of Japan. Headquartered in Osaka, you’ll find plenty of shops selling unique Glico products, especially around Dotonbori where the famous Glico Man sign was installed in 1935.

Even though you’ll find Glico snacks being sold around the country, it’s always a good idea to get them when visiting the area they originated from!

Ise– Akafuku Mochi

Ise, Japan - 2011

This is like the Holy Grail of omiyage. Akafuku was created over 300 years ago to welcome those visiting Ise Jingu, Japan’s most important shrine. Due to the high quality of raw ingredients used, the mochi only lasts up to three days before it goes bad, so it’s incredibly hard to transport home as a gift, which is why people want it.

Plus, unlike other regional omiyage which tends to often wander outside its own region, Akafuku mochi will only ever be found at Ise making it even more special.

Kobe– Kobe Pudding

It’s not exactly known how Kobe became known for pudding, but I suppose it well represents this westernized port town. The pudding itself is almost more like a flan, having a sweet taste, similar to that of caramel custard. On top it has a very light citrus liquor syrup that only brings out the sweetness of the custard. Delish!

The best part? These puddings don’t need to be refrigerated and they last a long time making them perfect to bring back from your travels. And, hey, they’re a lot cheaper than Kobe’s alternative namesake omiyage, Kobe beef.

Hokkaido– Shiroi Koibito

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Hokkaido is unlike anywhere else in Japan. With all the fields and farms it’s just like the good ‘ole Midwest. It’s here that you’ll find lots of milk and butter, and desserts that combine the two.

Shiroi Koibito are butter cookies that are fused together by a super thin layer of white chocolate. Warning: consume these at your own risk. Don’t say I didn’t warn you! I don’t even like white chocolate but I can finish off a box of these no problem!

…and then there’s KitKats

Osaka - 2011

No matter where you’ll go in Japan you’ll find unique KitKat bars for every region. Japan’s done it again and kind of like Pokemon, you’ll find yourself trying to catch them all—a mission I’ve been on since the first time I went to Japan.

From fruity ones like mango or sweet potato to the more savory flavors like green tea or edamame, you’ll easily find something to fit everyone. And don’t forget about the coveted wasabi flavor. I’m sure that anyone you bring that back for will love you forever for it. Trust me. ;)

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What do you want to buy in Japan?

22 Comments

  • Flavored kit-kats sound amazing, especially the mango or green tea! Do you happen to have any extras with you? Maybe you can bring some for our BlogHouse reunion.

  • Wait, wasabi KitKats?! That might be enough to get my husband to want to go to Japan sooner rather than later!

  • We were in Tokyo and Kyoto last year, but we didn’t know about the omiyage custom. We want to go back to Japan sooner than later, and next time we’ll know what to look out for. Very cool.

    • Beth Williams says:

      There is plenty of great food to be had in Japan, so I’m sure you guys had an amazing trip! Do look out for some of these regional specialties next time you head out that way.

  • Hahah I LOVE how you have a mission to try every Kit-Kat. Even a section of your blog devoted to it. I fully support you, and think I sort of want to get on board. …

  • Anne says:

    Japan is literally at the top of my travel wish list, so it’s so fun to learn about it and have a window to the culture through your site. Also I am OBSESSED with matcha, so I can’t wait to try it there!

    • Beth Williams says:

      I think we need to hold our #BlogHouse reunion in Tokyo … just sayin!
      Also I am obsessed with matcha as well… and I’m almost out! Time to go back to Japan :)

  • I can’t believe all of those kit-kats exist. I would like to try the Tokyo bananas. I’m not a fan of Twinkies. Maybe I’ll like these better!

  • Heather says:

    I was recently gifted some green-tea kit-kats from Japan as a gift from some visitors, and they are really interesting! I then had to google to see what other flavors existed, and I was surprised to see wasabi and others. I’m dying to try one of those bananas….

    • Beth Williams says:

      I think there are over 100 different Kit Kat flavors in Japan? It’s intense! I think I’ve only tried around 25 or so.

  • Yummy! I am OBSESSED with green tea kit-kats (to the point I had my friend in Japan shipping them to me) but now I have found a supplier in NYC so I am beyond ecstatic. I can’t wait to visit Tokyo in the spring to try some of these other things on your list out!

    • Beth Williams says:

      That’s awesome that they have them in NYC! Sometimes our Japanese grocery store gets them in here in Chicago…but rarely!

  • Ahhh so That’s what you call them! (Omiyage). I know what they are and see them in Asian shops but don’t know a name for them collectively. The Japanese KitKats are very famous for their flavours. The banana twinkies look very intriguing, im imagining they are like mini banana flavoured cream filled crepes!

    • Beth Williams says:

      Yup, that’s what they’re called! The Tokyo Bananas are actually more like a sponge cake filled with banana cream… but now that you’ve mentioned it, I want crepes!

  • Kristin says:

    Haha I think you can guess what I think of this post!! I love Tokyo bananas and wrote an entire post on them. : ) But most of the others ones I wasn’t familiar with which of course makes me want them all the more! I haven’t been to Hokkaido but read up on it quite a bit and was intrigued by their milk products.

    • Beth Williams says:

      I’ve actually never been to Hokkaido either, but my host family often went there for business trips and would bring back great omiyage. I really want to plan a trip there for next year though!

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