15 Unique Souvenirs From Wakayama That You Should Get - From Sweets to Craft Items!
Wakayama is a place that's steeped in history and there are many attractive souvenirs just waiting to be bought. If you make a trip there, you'll definitely want to get your hands on items that aren't easily available elsewhere. Check out these 15 souvenir recommendations that range from sweets to craft items that you can keep with you for a long time.
Sep 13 2017 (Dec 26 2019)
1. Yuasa Soy Sauce
Soy sauce is indispensable in Japanese cuisine and Yuasa in Wakayama Prefecture is said by some to be the place where it originated from. In Yuasa, traditional production methods are still used today and the soy sauce is a popular souvenir among visitors.
Even among soy sauces, there are different types depending on the salt content and ingredients used. Yuasa Soy Sauce can be purchased at airports or train stations, but if you're interested, you can visit the factory, learn about the production process, and even sample the different soy sauces!
The Kawazoecha produced in Shirahama-cho, Wakayama Prefecture, is well-known for being high-quality. The brilliant green leaves, strong aroma and mildly sweet aftertaste are characteristic of the tea. It's rarely available outside of Wakayama Prefecture, so it's one of the items you've got to buy when you visit.
Besides green tea, they also sell black tea. It's not very astringent, so it's really easy on the palate. Besides selling tea leaves, they also have tea bags, so you can pick according to your preferences.
3. Kumano Beef Curry
The Kumano cow is a brand cattle that has been reared in Wakayama Prefecture since the ancient times. It's premium wagyu (Japanese beef), so it can be a bit pricey when you're having it in a restaurant. If you're trying to lower costs or just want to share the taste of Kumano beef with your friends back home, then Kumano Beef Curry makes a great souvenir.
There are a number of manufacturers selling Kumano Beef Curry, but all of the options come with large pieces of Kumano beef. You'll be able to taste the deliciousness of the meat. They're generally priced at around 800 yen, so they're really affordable. They can be stored at room temperature and have some shelf life, so they're perfect as souvenirs.
4. Nomu Mikan (Mandarin Orange Juice)
Arida City in Wakayama Prefecture is a major producer of mikan (mandarin oranges). The Japanese mikan are smaller than regular oranges and have a strong, sweet flavor. The Nomu Mikan is a juice made with pure Arida mikan.
No sugar or coloring is added to the juice, so you'll be able to enjoy the natural, refreshing sweetness of the bright orange mikan juice. Bringing raw fruit home as a souvenir can be difficult, but since this is bottled juice, it's easy to take along with you.
5. Wakayama Ginger Ale
Wakayama Prefecture is also known for being a large producer of ginger. Wakayama Ginger Ale is a drink that uses fresh ginger harvested in the prefecture as an ingredient. The taste of ginger is strong in the drink, but it's also mildly sweet, so it's easy to drink even if you're not good with spice.
Besides regular ginger ale, there's also one with plum juice and another with jabara (a type of citrus fruit) added to the ale. They come in small 250ml bottles, so you can buy several bottles in different flavors and try them all!
6. Jabara Ponzu
Jabara is a rare citrus fruit that's grown in some parts of Wakayama Prefecture. Its good balance of bitterness, acidity and sweetness is its main characteristic. Jabara Ponzu is a Japanese-style seasoning that has this fruit as an ingredient. The citrus fruit is also known to help ease symptoms of allergy.
Dip meat, vegetables or fish into this sauce to get a refreshing seasoning. If you boil the sauce, you can also reduce the acidity and achieve a milder flavor. The sauce also comes in mini bottles, which are perfect if you want to give it a try for the first time.
In Japan, there's a food called umeboshi (salted plum) that's made by salting plums and sun-drying them. Wakayama Prefecture is the top producer of plums in Japan, so it's naturally also a major producer of umeboshi. Umezu (plum vinegar) is produced as part of the umeboshi process. This boils down and dries into umejio (plum salt). The salt is colored pink from the plums.
Umeboshi is pretty sour, but umejio is faintly acidic with a mellow sweetness, making it perfect for drawing out the flavors of a dish. Add it to meat or vegetables and savor the flavor of plums in your meal!
8. Ume Udon
Ume Udon is a type of noodle made by adding umeboshi paste from Wakayama Prefecture to the noodle dough. Udon is normally white in color, but Ume Udon takes on the pink from the plums. Its color is eye-catching, even without the use of artificial coloring.
Ume Udon barely has any acidity, unlike the sour umeboshi. If you're buying it as a souvenir, pick the ones that can be stored at room temperature. Surprise your friends and family with these pink noodles!
If you're into sweets, then you can't miss Kagero! This sweet is made of two pieces of soft biscuit with cream sandwiched in-between. It's a sweet that's representative of Wakayama. They're small and not overly sweet, so you'll find yourself devouring several in one go.
Since they're individually packed, they're easy to hand out and you won't have to finish them all in one go. You can buy them in packs of varying sizes (from 2 pieces to 45 pieces), so you have the flexibility to pick the right-size pack for your needs. Do take note that the shelf life of these sweets are on the short side, lasting about 1 month.
10. Deluxe Cake
The Deluxe Cake is a palm-sized white chocolate-coated sponge cake with jam sandwiched between its layers. It's one of the most popular souvenirs produced in Wakayama. They can be stored at room temperature, but it's recommended to eat them chilled.
It's not very sweet, so you'll find it really easy to finish. The retro-style packaging is also pleasing! The shelf life is just 10 days, but they're available in packs (starting from just 3 cakes) so you won't have to worry about not being able to finish them in time.
11. Shuro Tawashi
There are actually many palm trees (shuro) in Wakayama Prefecture. They can be used to make tawashi (scrubs) for washing pots and tableware. These days, with the increase of cheaper imports, the number of palm trees has been dwindling. However, the production of traditional tawashi has not disappeared. In Wakayama, you can buy all kinds of tawashi in varying sizes.
Tawashi are good for scrubbing away food that's stuck on your pots and tableware without scratching them. If you give one a try, you might never stop using tawashi. The mini-sized tawashi cellphone straps are a recommended gift item.
12. Kishu Temari
This pretty ball is a traditional craft item known as Kishu Temari. They were originally made as toys for princesses in the castle. Even now, these balls are handsewn. The bright colors and intricate designs are so beautiful that you'll never get sick of looking at them.
The temari cellphone straps and earrings are recommended buys since they're very affordably priced. With so many designs to choose from, you'll be spoiled for choice!
13. Kishu Shikki
Kishu Shikki is a Wakayama traditional craft. Lacquer is painted in layers on the wood to produce these exquisite items. The bowls are light, so they're items that you'd want to incorporate into your regular table setting.
Besides tableware like bowls and trays, there are other items like mirrors, photo frames and small boxes. Put your Wakayama photos into a Kishu Shikki photo frame and your memories of the trip will sure stay fresh in your mind!
14. Kishu Tenugui
A tenugui is a piece of cloth that's used to wipe your hands or sweat from your face, much like a towel. Thin and soft, tenugui are also big in size, so they can also be used as kitchen towels, lunch mats, wrapping for presents and more. Kishu Tenugui come in designs featuring eggplants, mikan, wasabi and other produce that Kishu is known for.
The designs are trendy, so they can also be hung on walls as art pieces. They're thin and light, so you can easily buy them and take many home with you.
15. Yatagarasu Daruma
In Wakayama Prefecture, there's the Kumano Kodo, a road that connects various shrines. Since ancient times, it's been known as a road for pilgrims, and many souvenir stores have been set up along it. Yatagarasu Daruma is a souvenir that can be bought at several shops along the Kumano Kodo.
Yatagarasu is a 3-legged crow that guides deities along the road. It's an object of faith. When you buy one, make a wish and dot one eye. Dot the other eye when your wish comes true. The Yatagarasu are handmade, so the expressions on each face will differ a little. Look carefully and pick one that you like the best!
From Tokyo, you can head to Wakayama by train, bus and even by air. There, you'll find the World Heritage Site, Kumano Kodo, as well as the beautiful Shirahama Coast. There's much to see, so be sure to find time to visit! Don't forget to grab some unique souvenirs when you visit. They're really wonderful souvenirs that will serve to remind you of your trip, and they are great for sharing with friends and family!
The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.