Top 16 Japanese Souvenirs and Experiences According to the 2018 OMOTENASHI Selection

Are you looking for souvenir or activity recommendations for your next trip to Japan? If so, look no further than the 2018 OMOTENASHI Selection! From sweets to garments, accessories, and even an outdoor hotel - there's surely something that will satisfy you. We've done all the hard work for you by selecting the best of the best, so have a look!

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What is the OMOTENASHI Selection?

Twice a year, the OMOTENASHI NIPPON Executive Committee announces the OMOTENASHI Selection - a list of the best souvenirs, activities, and experiences that Japan has to offer - with the goal of conveying the charms and products of Japan to the world. 

While dozens of souvenirs and hands-on activities were chosen in the 2018 OMOTENASHI Selection, this article will just highlight a few of the best selections for each region. The full list of selections can be viewed from the OMOTENASHI Selection Official Homepage.

Hokkaido and Tohoku

This region includes the large island prefecture of Hokkaido, as well as the six prefectures that make up Tohoku - the name for the northern section of Honshu, Japan's main island.

Blissful Peach Sorbet

This sorbet is made from nearly 75% pure peach juice from the famed Akatsuki variety of peaches that are grown in Fukushima Prefecture. As these peaches have a short shelf life and a limited season, turning them into a sorbet is the perfect way to ensure that people can enjoy their sweet flavor all year round! Furthermore, purchasing this product aids local peach farmers who were affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami disaster of 2011.

Wappari

A hanten is a kind of traditional Japanese coat that used to be common wear, but has now been relegated to festivals and other traditional events. Wappari is a modernized version that was dreamt up by a dyeing company in Iwate Prefecture in hopes of keeping this traditional garment alive, as well as to bring a "delightful touch" to modern lifestyles. The men's version is shorter, while the women's version is longer and can be worn as a cardigan.

Charcoal Grilled Senbei Making Experience

Senbei (rice crackers) are a traditional Japanese snack that are still widely eaten to this day and are incredibly popular as souvenirs. At Yamanaka Senbei Honpo, you get to make and grill your very own senbei over an open charcoal flame! The senbei are flavored simply with yomogi (mugwort) and salt, but you can purchase other flavors from the on-site shop to take home with you. 

View the articles below to find out more things to do (and eat!) if you're in Hokkaido or Tohoku. 

Kanto

This central region contains the megacity of Tokyo and six other prefectures, including Chiba Prefecture, which is where Narita Airport - the gateway into Japan for many foreign tourists - is located.

Kimono Bottle Cover

Tabletop decorations are typically a Western practice not seen in Japan. However, that didn't stop someone from creating these adorable yet stylish Kimono Bottle Covers! They are fastened with velcro, making them easy to take on and off, and are flexible enough to cover a wide variety of bottle shapes, including wine, champagne, and sake (Japanese rice wine). If you're looking for a high-quality Japan-esque souvenir, this might be perfect for you!

Series of Souvenirs from Ibaraki Farm: Melon no Kataomoi and Ichigo no Hatsukoi

Melon no Kataomoi (Melon's Unrequited Love) is a mini melon bread that contains white sweet bean paste blended with real melon juice. Ichigo no Hatsukoi (Strawberry's First Love) is a manju (steamed cake) filled with sweet white bean paste and 100% strawberry jam. Both of these treats were made with fruits grown on Fukasaku Farm in rural Ibaraki Prefecture. Eating them not only lets you enjoy a delicious treat, but lets you support local farmers as well!

Jun Ai Cha

The indigo plant ("ai" in Japanese) is famous for being an ingredient in dye, but did you know it can be enjoyed as a tea? This indigo tea brand was born out of the experiences of the founder, who used indigo powder to help cure his stomach disorders. It is a healthy product packed with polyphenols, minerals, and fiber. Even better, it has a mild, easy-to-drink taste and is caffeine-free!

Travelling Outdoor Hotel “The Caravan”

The Caravan is an amazing option for those who want to experience the bountiful nature of Japan without totally giving up the luxury and comfort of a hotel. Guests get to enjoy scenic views, accompanied by meals prepared by expert chefs using local and seasonal ingredients. There are transportation services to the hotel location from nearby stations, so guests need not worry about getting to remote locations on their own.

Check out the article below for some other interesting tour options in the Kanto region. 

Chubu

The Chubu region is located to the west of Kanto and is made up of nine prefectures in total. Chubu is famous for the large city of Nagoya, as well as for being the home of Mt. Fuji, Japan's most iconic mountain.

Umi no Utage (Deluxe Assorted Shrimp Snack Gift Set)

This is a very special kind of shrimp cracker in which the shrimp has actually been cooked whole in a revolutionary technique called "ippon-yaki". You will surely be impressed by the look of these crackers, which have a bright red color due the processing method and specific variety of shrimp. The crisp outside and light texture on the inside make for a tasty and unique snack you won't soon forget!

USHIOWASABI

While this salty wasabi paste may seem simple, its development actually took over 2.5 years and over 1,000 prototypes to get right! The challenge was to create a product that retained the crunchy texture of the salt crystals without having them dissolve due to the moisture in the wasabi. All that time and effort was well worth it, as it resulted in this delicious seasoning that is great on steaks and other foods. It makes any food pair great with drinks! 

Nagoya is the largest city in Chubu, and is one of the largest and most well-known cities in all of Japan. Check out the article below to read up on some sweets you can enjoy there!

Kansai

After Kanto, the Kansai region is probably the most well-known region in Japan, as it contains many popular sightseeing cities like Kyoto, Osaka, and Nara. 

Uji Matcha Chocolate Crunch "Cha-no-ki"

While matcha (powdered green tea) sweets are far from being a rarity these days, this particular treat is truly in a class of its own. It is made with Uji matcha (high-quality matcha from Uji, Kyoto) that has been carefully blended by a matcha expert in order for it to pair well with chocolate. You will also enjoy the crunchy "tansan senbei" (carbonic acid rice cracker) that makes up the bulk of this treat, as it is both crispy and light, letting the chocolate and matcha shine through.

COTONARA

This variety pack includes 4 kinds of drip bags containing coffee roasted in Nara. Each of them is named after an area in Nara, with the goal of introducing the city of Nara to the world through coffee. The coffee itself is delicious and high-quality, having been roasted by a specialty coffee store with over 40 years of experience. 

ONTANO Eco-humidifier

You might think this product is just a folded towel, but it's actually a ceramic humidifier that releases moisture without needing electricity! All you have to do is submerge it in water and then place it somewhere in the room. You will know when it's time to re-submerge it in water, because the color is totally different when the product dries out. This is the perfect product for those who want humidity without having to splurge on expensive electronics or sacrifice being eco-friendly.

Kansai is most famous for Kyoto, Osaka, and Nara... but what else is there to do there? Check out the articles below for some ideas.

Chugoku and Shikoku

Chugoku is one of the smaller and more rural regions in Japan. It contains five prefectures, including Hiroshima. Shikoku is a region that covers the entirety of the smallest of Japan's four main islands, and contains four prefectures. 

IZUMO-USAGI Full Moon Algae Salt

This sea salt is made with seawater and seaweed from the waters around the sacred Izumo Grand Shrine in Shimane Prefecture. These ingredients are only taken on nights with a full moon, as it is believed that the ocean is richer in minerals during these nights. As Izumo is considered one of the most spiritual places in the country, eating this salt is a way for people to feel a connection with the soul of Japan.

Awaai Imokintsuba

This unique sweet showcases the flavors of two Tokushima specialties - sweet potatoes and indigo. The edible indigo powder used in this sweet is actually produced by students in a high school that specializes in indigo cultivation and processing. Blueberries are also added as a way to balance out the rich sweetness of the sweet potato, and the savory skin that wraps around the filling provides an extra textural element. Support the future of Tokushima by giving it a try!

Chugoku and Shikoku may be small, but there's still plenty to do there! Check out the articles below to see what we mean.

Kyushu and Okinawa

This region includes the seven prefectures that make up Kyushu, the southernmost of the four main islands of Japan, and Okinawa Prefecture - a collection of hundreds of islands located south of the four main islands of the Japanese archipelago. 

Kyutaro’s Jewel Box of Pickles

While tsukemono (Japanese-style pickles) are still a part of the Japanese diet, their consumption has actually been steadily declining in recent times as eating habits change. Nakazono Kyutaro Shoten is a long-established tsukemono specialty shop that is devoted to keeping this delicacy alive and popular by adjusting its recipes to suit modern preferences. This box of pickles is one prime example of that. It lets customers choose two varieties out of several kinds of pickles.

Premium Bottled Tea - Ginjyocha

Shimodozono is a long-established tea shop in Kagoshima Prefecture that sells mostly loose-leaf Japanese teas. As the flavor of tea can vary depending on how it is brewed, Shimodozono developed this bottled tea product as a way to ensure that anyone can taste the divine flavor of perfectly-brewed tea made with high-quality ingredients. The unique extraction method, which does not use chemicals or heat to eliminate bacteria, is another element that leads to the purity and deliciousness of the tea.

Looking for more activities instead of souvenirs? Check out the articles below, which cover festivals in Okinawa and some surprisingly unknown shrines in Fukuoka, a prefecture within Kyushu.

 

These souvenirs are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the 2018 OMOTENASHI Selection. If you can't get enough, why not try viewing some of the products in the 2017 OMOTENASHI Selection?

Alternatively, you can also check out the comprehensive guide below, which was painstakingly put together by the tsunagu Japan editing team.

If you want to give feedback on any of our articles, you have an idea that you'd really like to see come to life, or you just have a question on Japan, hit us up on our FacebookTwitter, or tell us through this Google Form!

The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.

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