7 Must-Buy Souvenirs from Kumamoto!
Kumamoto is a place where delicious food is strongly rooted in the local culture. For that reason, many foods unique to Kumamoto can be seen in souvenir stores. There is a huge variety available, including many reasonably priced items that are easy to take home. Items emblazoned with the region's mascot, Kumamon, are also great buys!
Mar 06 2019 (Sep 09 2020)
1. "Homare no Jindaiko" from Okashi no Kobai Hakuzan Main Branch
Homare no Jindaiko (4 per box, 713 yen), a snack consisting of gyuhi (a sof type of rice cake) wrapped in red bean, is a familiar Kumamoto sweet that has been well loved since the olden days. Premium, hand-picked red beans from Hokkaido are paired with honey and underground water from Aso to create this delicacy.
It looks just like a taiko drum, like its name suggests. It may look awfully sweet, but you'll find that it tastes just right. It can also be served chilled and has a refined taste, making this a sweet you should definitely try if you’re in the area!
2. "Kumamon Cider" from Aso-Okamoto
Kumamon, the mascot of Kumamoto, is featured on a wide range of merchandise, from clothes and accessories to foodstuffs. Many souvenir stores carry these products; for example, the Kumamon Cider (210 yen) in the picture above, which is one of Kumamoto’s famous local ciders.
Delicious spring water from Aso is used to produce the cider, so this is a great way to savor Kumamoto's fresh nature. You'll be able to get this local cider at most alcohol stores in Aso and Okamoto.
3. "Ichopai" from Kiyomasa Seika Main Branch
Kumamoto Castle can be said to be the symbol of Kumamoto, and with the many ginkgo trees on its premises, it's also known as the Ginkgo Castle. The Ichopai (4 pieces for 432 yen) is made in the image of a ginkgo leaf. They also come in 6-piece boxes (648 yen), 10-piece boxes (1,080 yen), and 20-piece boxes (2,160 yen), so you can pick up whichever size is best for you.
This crunchy biscuit has sugar granules on the top, which makes a wonderful combination with the fragrance of butter. It's also not too sweet, so it’s suitable for almost anyone! The expiry date is 40 days from the date of production, making it perfect as a souvenir. You won't have to worry about being unable to finish it before it expires.
4. "Mushagaeshi" from Okashi no Kobai Hakuzan Main Branch
In Japanese history, Kumamoto Castle is known as a castle that was difficult to siege due to its grand stone walls. The stone wall gets steeper the higher you go and this unique shape is called Mushagaeshi, which is where this snack gets its name. It is available for 1,199 yen for a box of 8.
It doesn't really look like the stone wall, but it's really delicious, making it a highly recommended souvenir. The puff pastry is really buttery, and has a red bean filling that is both moist and tastes great. This is said to be a snack where you can get a taste of both the East and West.
5. "Gohan no Tomo" from ANA Festa Kumamoto Lobby Branch
Gohan no Tomo (large 57g: 216 yen) is furikake, a seasoning mix that you sprinkle over white rice. It comes in several flavors, such as soy sauce seasoned sardines that will whet your appetite and make the rice even tastier. You can also mix it with the rice to make onigiri (rice balls). This particular flavor has a slightly heavier taste, so you may not even need to have any side dishes with your rice!
It is sold in compact packets and is quite cheap! You can buy plenty different packets, and since they won't take up a lot of luggage space, this makes them a perfect souvenir to consider. Little gifts like these can be a pleasant surprise for friends and family, considering the taste!
6. "Ashikita no Dekopon Jelly" from Shunsaikan Aso Kumamoto Airport Branch
The Decopon Jelly (6 for 2,700 yen) is a made from decopon (a variety of mandarin orange) grown in Kumamoto. This variety of mandarin orange characteristically has rough and hard skin. While it is delicious as it is, making it into a jelly makes it even tastier!
There's a firm sweetness and refreshing tinge of sourness in the jelly. Eating it chilled gives it a different taste as well. Besides jelly with bits of cecopon in it, there is also a nata de coco (translucent jelly-like coconut water) version that you can try.
7. "Karashi Renkon Chips" from ANA Festa Kumamoto Lobby Branch
Another of Kumamoto’s famous souvenirs is Karashi Renkon Chips (648 yen per box). These spicy lotus root chips make great snacks, since they have an addictive taste and are oh-so crunchy. They're so good that you won't be able to stop eating them! They're also a good snack to enjoy with a beer.
While it looks like regular lotus root, this snack has a rather long shelf life so you don't have to worry about it going bad. While the packaging may seem to suggest that it's really spicy, it's not terribly spicy when you actually eat it, so don't worry even if you're not good with hot stuff.
This rounds up the list of must-buy souvenirs to check out when you visit Kumamoto. These are flavors that are representative of the area, and the snacks make perfect gifts for friends. In fact, they're so good that you'd want to buy some for yourself, too!. If you’re short on time, you can also find a good variety of them at the airport.
Header Image: kan_khampanya / Shutterstock
The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.