Editors' Picks of the Best Souvenirs from Kagoshima: Brown Sugar, Tea Leaves, and More!
When it comes to popular Kagoshima souvenirs, karukan (a steamed confection made from yam powder) and all sorts of sweet potato treats immediately spring to mind. While they are indeed delicious and make great gifts, this region has more to offer, including famous tea leaves and brown sugar. Here are our editorial team's picks of the best souvenirs you can buy in Kagoshima!
May 20 2020 (Sep 09 2020)
Towaya Brown Sugar Chocolate
The Amami Islands fall under the administration of Kagoshima. The region has been one of the most important areas of brown sugar production in Japan since its introduction from China some 400 years ago and the its ensuing large-scale cultivation.
Towaya is a confectionery brand using brown sugar from Kikaijima and Tokunoshima islands. Their brown sugar chocolate series, our recommendation, goes especially well with tea.
Brown sugar is rich in minerals. Towaya's secret recipe combines this sugar with premium chocolate to make a delicacy that is not only healthy but shelf-stable, as it is rather melt-resistant.
This chocolate also comes comes in variations featuring local ingredients like Kagoshima tea, Yakushima tankan orange, and Yakushima salt. If you're unsure what to buy, the assorted package with all four flavors might be a good choice. It's ideal for sharing with friends!
The outlying tropical islands of Kagoshima are their own separate treasure and deserve their own article, quite frankly. And indeed, we've prepared such an article: souvenirs you can get from Yakushima Island.
Yamafuku Seika Shirokuma Crunch Choco
Anyone reading a Kagoshima travel guide will likely come across a mention of the Shirokuma shaved ice served at Tenmonkan Mujaki, a cafe located on the lively Tenmonkan Street.
Shirokuma shaved ice is one of Kagoshima's most famous treats.This shaved ice is topped generously with condensed milk, fresh and dried fruits, and candies. With its colorful appearance and delightful sweetness, it's considered the prefecture's most famous desserts.
It is no wonder that many confectionery brands have collaborated with this cafe to produce souvenirs. Among them, the Shirokuma Crunch Choco is our team's pick!
Shirokuma Crunch Choco is a crispy rice bar mixed with dried fruits like pineapple and raisins and coated with milky white chocolate. You can enjoy crunchy rice, sweet chocolate, and aromatic dried fruits in each bite. Like most Japanese souvenirs, these treats come individually wrapped, so they're easy to share with friends and family.
Shiroyama Hotel Chiran Green Tea Jam
Blessed with ample sunlight and soil rich with volcanic ash from Sakurajima, the Chiran district of Kagoshima is a fertile tea-growing area that's famous throughout Japan. The local "Chiran tea" is jade in color with a rich, aromatic flavor.
Chiran tea is a must-buy in and of itself, but for a unique souvenir, try Shiroyama Hotel Kagoshima's Chiran Green Tea Jam.
Chiran Green Tea Jam's main ingredient is, of course, Chiran green tea. The pure Kagoshima milk adds a sweetness that mellows out any bitter flavors, allowing the enticing aroma of the tea to stand out. This jam can be enjoyed in many ways: as a toast spread, as a sauce for desserts like muffins or ice cream, or even as a drink by blending with hot milk. These jams also come in other flavors including Anno-imo sweet potato and Chiran black tea.
Bachange Sakurajima Volcano Monaka
Bachange is a Kagoshima confectionery brand that specializes in monaka, a type of Japanese sweet made with a crisp, wafer-like shell and red bean filling. Bachange's monaka are designed in cute shapes based on local icons like Sakurajima, the area's local pigs, cherry blossoms, and historical figures like Saigo Takamori and Atsuhime.
The filling is prepared by slowly cooking carefully sourced red beans using traditional methods and tools like steamers and copper pots. The resulting bean paste has an excellent flavor and aroma and a little nostalgic touch.
Our editors picked the Sakurajima volcano monaka because of its cute rounded design, and because of the extra yuzu-flavored mochi rice cake inside. The yuzu citrus fruit comes from Akune, and its freshness perfectly accents the sweet red bean paste. Even those who aren't normally big monaka fans find this one hard to resist!
Ibutama sweets are an assortment of cookies exclusively sold on the scenic Ibusuki no Tamatebako train that runs between Kagoshima Chuo Station and Ibusuki Station. Ibusuki is the origin of the well known Japanese tale, The Legend of Urashima Taro, and many references to this story can be spotted in the train. The souvenir itself is inspired by the magical box that turned Urashima Taro into an old man!
Ibutama's sweet box art depicts the Dragon Palace. Inside the box are cookies made from Ibusuki broad bean and Ei tea. The former is prepared by adding broad bean paste to the dough, lending a unique flavor that is at once salty and sweet. The Ei tea cookies are sable cookies flavored with honey. The combination of fragrant tea and sweet honey is best enjoyed with a cup of hot tea. Ei tea belongs to the Chiran tea family and is a local specialty of Minamikyushu City. This high-quality tea is bitter at first sip and has a delicious, mild aftertaste.
If you're looking to take a trip aboard the Ibusuki no Tamatebako train, check out our article that plans a weekend itinerary around the Ibusuki area!
Black Pork Miso
Kagoshima kurobuta pork is renowned across Japan. These pigs feed on a diet of Satsuma sweet potato, giving their meat a tender texture and a hint of sweetness due to this feed's high glucose level.
"Pork miso" is a popular traditional homemade dish in Kagoshima. While the recipe varies by family, it's typically made by slow-cooking minced meat, miso, mirin, and sugar. Its flavor profile can range from sweet to spicy.
Black pork miso has multiple uses. It can be served as an accompaniment to rice, as a seasoning for vegetables, a filling for rice balls, and more.
It's commonly served in restaurants in Kagoshima, so if you try it and like the dish, you can shop for canned versions to bring home. However, please remember to check the customs regulations of your home country beforehand, as this does contain pork. Some souvenir shops also offer single-serving packs as shown in the photo below, which you can eat with salad if you're looking for an easy meal while travelling.
Kagoshima is a gourmet paradise, but don't take our word for it: come and see for yourself! You can't bring all of Kagoshima's delicacies home, but all of these souvenirs are a perfect way to share the joy of traveling with family and friends. Please use this article as a guide for your souvenir shopping in Kagoshima!
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The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.