The 20 Best Souvenirs to Buy in Okayama
Okayama is a popular destination both for Japanese and foreign tourists. Souvenirs are an important and indispensable part of travel for many, but it can be a real challenge to decide on what to buy in an unfamiliar place. In this article, we will introduce 20 Okayama souvenirs that everyone is sure to love!
Sep 18 2019 (Sep 09 2020)
10 Select Souvenirs from Okayama
1. Yamawaki Sangetsudo
Yamawaki Sangetsudo is a confectionery maker first established in 1881 that manufactures a variety of Okayama specialties, including kibi dango (sweet millet dumplings). It has retail locations around the prefecture, including at Okayama Station.Yamawaki Sangetsudo's kibi dango has received a number of prizes at the National Confectionary Expo, and is famous all around Japan.
The kibi dango is their main product, and it comes in a wide range of flavors, including the traditional plain flavor and flavors like lemon and kinako (roasted soybean flour). If you find yourself wondering what souvenir to buy from Okayama, why not stop by a Yamawaki Sangetsudo store? You're sure to find just the right item.
2. Tsuruno Tamago Main Store
Tsuruno Tamago, which was founded in 1887, is a famous confectionery store that specializes in Tsuruno Tamago, a red and white marshmallow manju (sweet steamed bun) that took Japan by storm during the Meiji period (1868-1912). It has a store on Okayama's main street, Momotaro-Dori, just a few minutes from the East Exit of JR Okayama Station.
Tsuruno Tamago has fluffy and soft marshmallow on the outside and a creamy egg yolk filling on the inside. It not only looks adorable, but is also made with specially-filtered water to ensure both taste and safety. If you want to try this special confectionery through which you can experience a touch of the Meiji era, why not stop by at Tsuruno Tamago?
Koeido, which has a history of 160 years, is a long-established confectionery store that specializes in Okayama's famous kibi dango. It has eight stores around Okayama Prefecture including its main store in Chunagon, each with a warm and welcoming retro design.
The recommended item at Koeido is, without a doubt, the kibi dango that comes in a variety of flavors including plain, brown sugar, brown rice, and sea salt. With cute packaging featuring Momotaro, a popular hero of Japanese folklore, these are sure to be a hit souvenir for friends and family.
4. Nakayama Shoyodo
Nakayama Shoyodo, which was established in 1950, is a famous confectionery maker dedicated to offering kibi dango and a variety of other Okayama sweets under the motto of "making sweets with a warmth that connects hearts." This is a popular shop for souvenirs with outlets across the prefecture, including in Okayama Station and at highway rest stops.
The kibi dango, which comes in a variety of flavors, are of course wonderful, but the number one recommendation at Nakayama Shoyodo is the gyuhi, a traditional Japanese sweet with a softer variety of mochi. Its chewy texture and gentle sweetness is truly sublime. Be sure to check out this store if you're looking for some more options from Okayama besides the classic kibi dango.
Shikishimado, which aspires to build up people, dreams, and happiness through sweets, is a souvenir shop that sells a range of famous sweets with a focus on Okayama souvenirs. It has eight shops in Okayama Prefecture that are hugely popular among tourists for their stylish exteriors and atmosphere.
A particular recommendation at Shikishimado is the Original Muscat Kibi Dango. This variety of kibi dango is packed with muscat grapes, a local Okayama specialty, and is popular among people of all ages. Drop in at Shikishimado for this unique item that offers a taste of two Okayama specialties in one!
6. Ohte Manjyu Inbeya
Ohte Manjyu Inbeya, which was established in 1837 and has a history of over 180 years, offers a wide range of sweets made with azuki beans such as manju dumplings and yokan (sweet bean jelly). It has a store in Okayama Tenmaya and various locations around Okayama Prefecture. Ohte Manjyu is also sold in stores outside of the prefecture, and is a well-known brand across the country.
Ohte Manjyu is said to have been a favorite of Lord Ikeda of Bizen Province, which is today a part of Okayama Prefecture. This sweet is made with fragrant amazake (sweet fermented rice drink), and a batter made with high-quality Bizen rice. These sweets are characterized by their unique appearance that resembles a snow-covered landscape. If you're looking for some more unique options from Okayama, don't miss a visit to Ohte Manjyu Inbeya.
Kikkodo, which was established in 1881, is a well-known Japanese confectionary store based in Kurashiki City, Okayama Prefecture. This store sells Murasuzume, a famous Kurashiki confectionery. It has stores in JR Kurashiki Station, JR Okayama Station, and across the prefecture, some of which even offer workshops where you can make your own Murasuzume!
Murasuzume has a dough made with fresh eggs and a filling made using azuki beans from Hokkaido. Many people love the fact that this is a Japanese sweet that seems a little like a European-style cake due to the wheat flour used in the dough. Kikkodo is a shop not to be missed while you are visiting Kurashiki.
8. Komiya Yokan
Komiya Yokan, which was established in 1764, is one of the oldest Japanese sweet stores in the prefecture. It specializes in yokan, a jellied dessert commonly made from red bean paste, agar, and sugar. One of the appeals of Ochiai, where the shop is located, is all the seasonal attractions you can find here! Whether it's the cherry blossoms in the spring, fireworks festivals in the summer, apple-picking at local orchards in the fall, or the Fukubiki event at Kiyama Temple in the winter, there are many things to do here all year round.
Our recommendation from Komiya Yokan is the Takasebune Yokan. This yokan, made with carefully selected azuki beans and natural water from the mountains of Ochiai, is not only tasty, but also has a long, two-month shelf life. This shop is an absolute must if you're in Ochiai!
Ange is a confectioner located in Sakushu Tsuyama, an area famous for its wheat production. Committed to using local ingredients, this popular store offers a wide range of attractive baked goods made with plenty of flour, including the famous Tsuyama Roll.
The Tsuyama Roll is made with plenty of Tsuyama ingredients, including wheat flour, Japanese yam, and black soybeans. This is a very popular product, with more than 90 cakes sold every day! Flour from Tsuyama, which has a high water retention rate, is very aromatic and creates a moist sponge for the roll. Be sure to stop in Ange when visiting Tsuyama!
Shihoya has received numerous prizes, including the Kurashiki no Shinise prize given by Kurashiki City to famous established stores, and has been often featured in the media. Founded in 1913, it has a history of over 100 years, and is popular among tourists as a place to enjoy traditional flavors.
The most popular product at Shihoya is the Shimizu Hakuto Jelly, which is made with Shimizu white peaches. These are known as the highest quality variety of white peach, and are a specialty of Okayama. The product has earned great reviews for the outstanding texture of the white peach pieces that seem to melt in the mouth. If you're interested in a luxurious sweet to take home, be sure to stop by Shihoya.
Five Select Specialty Souvenirs from Okayama
1. Miyama no Kaori
Miyama no Kaori is a tea made with Chamaecrista nomame, which is used as a medicinal herb. It is famous as an Okayama specialty, and does not have strong flavors common in Chinese medicine.
Miyama no Kaori has a nutty, rich flavor and sweetness that comes through on the first sip. Once you try it, you're sure to want to taste it again! It's also reasonably priced, so you should definitely consider purchasing Miyama no Kaori as a souvenir to take home!
2. Oyster Senbei
Next up is Oyster Senbei (Kaki Senbei), a luxurious product made by using fresh oysters from the Seto Inland Sea to make senbei (rice crackers). Each one is carefully made by hand, resulting in wonderfully flavorful crackers packed with the goodness of oysters.
Oyster Senbei are popular snacks to eat along with beer, so they make great gifts for anyone who enjoys a drink. They're made with special attention paid to retaining the natural flavors of the ingredients, so you can be sure of their quality. You'll be hard pressed to find these anywhere else, so why not pick some up as a souvenir?
3. Pickled Mamakari
The next recommended item is Pickled Mamakari (Japanese sardinella) caught in the Seto Inland Sea. It's salted and pickled in vinegar, and is very popular to enjoy with rice and drinks. It's a top souvenir pick from the many specialties available in Okayama.
Pickled Mamakari has a long shelf life, and can be kept frozen for 14 days, so it's perfect as a souvenir. At 1,240 JPY, they're on the more expensive side, but they really make for the perfect gift! It's definitely a rare find, and it's sure to be a very welcome gift.
4. Kurashiki Hojicha
Kurashiki Hojicha is made completely by hand using traditional techniques. It is characterized by a light roast that retains some of the freshness of the tea leaves. It comes in a very cute package as well.
The nutty aroma that arises when hot water is poured onto Kurashiki Hojicha has a relaxing effect that's sure to help you recover from your busy day. One sip and you'll be able to feel the natural umami flavors of tea course through your body. This tea can be enjoyed as a refreshing iced drink or as a soothing hot drink.
5. Hamayaki Sakuradai
Hamayaki Sakuradai is a stunning Okayama specialty of fresh sakuradai (pink sea bream caught during the spring) that has been grilled whole. It is popular as an accompaniment to rice and sake, and makes a wonderful souvenir packed with the aroma and umami flavors of sea bream.
Hamayaki Sakuradai is prepared using the age-old traditional method of wrapping sea bream procured directly from the fishery in straw and steam-grilling it. Sea bream is considered to be lucky in Japan, so why not select it as a gift for that special someone?
Five Select Souvenir Goods from Okayama
1. Masking Tape
Cute masking tape from Okayama also make for great souvenirs. Kurashiki in Okayama is known as the birthplace of masking tape, and the variety that fills the shelves are so adorable that you'll feel relaxed just by looking at them. They make the perfect gift for any friends who enjoy cute things.
Particularly popular among the wide variety are the kitty tapes with unique drawings of cats on them. The warm illustrations drawn with a soft touch is sure to capture the heart! Why not choose some cute masking tapes as souvenirs?
The next item to be introduced is "okatenu". Okatenu are tenugui (traditional Japanese hand towels), and can be purchased at Gocha Aoyama Chaho, a shop where you can experience traditional Japanese culture. These okatenu, which all have unique designs, won't take up much space in your luggage, so they're perfect as souvenirs.
There is a wide selection of types available, and you'll even come across okatenu-making workshops while walking around Kurashiki, so be sure to give it a try to create a wonderful memory of your trip. New colors are introduced on a regular basis, which makes the perfect gift for anyone who likes exclusive items.
3. Matryoshka Momotaro
Next up is Matryoshka Momotaro. Matryoshka are traditional Russian souvenirs, but in Okayama, the land of the Momotaro fairytale, Momotaro-themed matryoshkas are popular souvenirs. Momotaro's retainers are nestled inside so you see them all when you open up the Momotaro matryoshka. Another cute touch is that retainers are all holding their own kibi dango.
There is also a version of Matryoshka Momotaro with grandpa and grandma from the famed tale nestled inside. These adorable dolls make great decorations for home. Since Momotaro matryoshkas are so clearly from Okayama they are the perfect souvenir!
4. Bizen Ware
Bizen-ware ceramics have a long history as one of the Six Ancient Kilns of Japan. They are well known in Japan, and are a type of traditional craft with a variety of different designs. These are some of the most famous products from the Okayama area, so you should definitely pick up one as a souvenir!
Beer mugs and bowls are particularly popular as souvenirs. Using these unique and special pieces are sure to bring a little extra joy to your daily life. There are also other small items worth looking at to see if any catch your eye!
5. Kinu Temari
Kinu Temari are the perfect gift for those who appreciate pretty and delicate items. These cute temari are carefully handmade by craftsmen who encase dolls inside balls made from mesh-woven silk. There are a variety of colors, so you may want to get one for yourself as well as some for your friends.
Kinu Temari make great decorative items to give your room a touch of Japanese style. There are ones with seasonal patterns, so it can be fun to choose different ones for each season. The bright and colorful Japanese patterns are very relaxing to look at.
Find the Perfect Souvenir from Okayama, the Land of Momotaro!
Okayama Prefecture, famous for the Japanese folktale of Momotaro, is full of popular tourist destinations and great food. Experiencing long-held traditions and local food culture is a great appeal of a visit here, but many tourists also want to take something tangible home with them. In fact, Okayama has such a great variety of souvenirs of all types, including food and small items, that it's fun even just browsing around. We hope you can use this article to help you find an Okayama souvenir that will make your trip even more special!
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Translated and republished with permission from: SPIRA (formerly known as Relux Magazine)
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The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.