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Tons of Delicious Stuff! 5 Must-Buy Souvenirs from Kumamoto, Kyushu

Kumamoto, located in the Kyushu region, is an area that is famous for its gourmet dishes like basashi (horse meat sashimi). With a lot of delicious souvenirs available, it could be quite difficult to choose what to buy. Below are five carefully selected famous souvenirs in Kumamoto that you might want to consider purchasing!

2018.06.07

1. Ashikita no Dekopon Jelly

Dekopon, a specialty of Kumamoto, is a citrus fruit that is popular for its refreshing sweetness and large size. A member of the Shiranui variety, this fruit is a branded product that is shipped out of the region after clearing strict quality standards. Ashikita no Dekopon Jelly (421 JPY (incl. tax)) is a food product that generously uses the fresh pulp and juice of Dekopon fruits. It is an easy-to-eat jelly product with added nata de coco that fully utilizes the original flavor of Dekopon. It is even low in calories! Its distributor, Kumamoto Kabo, sells not just this gelatinous delight, but also Dekopon juice and candies, so check them out!


(c) Kumamoto Prefecture

2. Kikuchi no Yubeshi

Yubeshi is a dish that is made by filling the inside of a hollowed-out yuzu (a type of citrus fruit) with rice flour, miso, and other ingredients. After steaming them all together, the steamed yuzu is stuffed into straw paper and then dried. This dish has long been loved in Kumamoto as an accompaniment to tea, a side dish for rice, and as a snack for sake. The confectionery version of yubeshi is Kikuchi no Yubeshi. It has that distinctive, invigorating aroma of yuzu, as well as the delicious fragrance of miso. It is characterized by its mochi-like texture - the more it is chewed, the tastier it gets! If it becomes hard, you can warm it in the microwave and then pop it in the toaster to make it more delicious. The Yubeshi (550 JPY (incl. tax)) from Tsumura Yuhodo is especially recommended. It is a special treat made from rice, miso, and yuzu harvested from the region.


(c) Kumamoto Prefecture

3. Kuma Shochu

Kuma Shochu is a specialty product of Kuma, which is one of the leading producers of rice in Japan. Similar to Scotch whisky and Bordeaux wine, this is a branded shochu (distilled liquor) that has been allowed by the WTO to bear the name of its place of origin. With rice as its sole raw ingredient, it is characterized by its rich aroma and robust taste, brought about by how it is made: moromi (mash) - prepared using the underground water of Hitoyoshi Kuma – is distilled on-site to create it! There are more than 200 types of brands of Kuma Shochu, so one of its main appeals is that you can taste a wide variety of flavors. The Toyonagagura 25° 720ml (1,330 JPY) from Toyonaga Distillery is highly recommended. It is a brand that is known for using organic and pesticide-free rice, so you can freely enjoy the sweet and refreshing taste of rice.


(c) Kumamoto Prefecture

4. Kosode-mochi / Uto-mochi

Next on the list is the Kosode-mochi (300 JPY) from Kosode-mochi Hompo, which is a specialty product of Uto that has long been popular as a souvenir. It is a confectionery that is made by wrapping koshi-an (strained bean paste), which has a simple sweetness, in mochi (rice cake). Every pack contains 10 pieces of bite-sized, soft mochi. Note that this confectionery expires on the day that it is made, and if you wait until the next day to eat it, its skin will become hard. Furthermore, the Uto-mochi from Utomochi Hompo Jonan-do is famous as the souvenir that best represents the area.


(c) Kumamoto Prefecture

4. Kosode-mochi / Uto-mochi

5. Akazake

Akazake (red sake) is a kind of liquor with an improved shelf life that is made possible through a unique manufacturing method, in which charcoal is added to the brewed moromi. Characterized by its unique aroma that comes from wood ash, as well as its slight alkalinity, this liquor has been loved as the “sake of the masses” since ancient times. It has gained popularity as a cooking sake, enjoying evaluations such as “it makes meat and fish soft”, “it has a sweet and refreshing taste”, and “it gets rid of any bad smells really well”. The Tohi Akazake Ryori-yo (Akazake for cooking) 1.8l (1,200 JPY (excl. tax)) from Zuiyo is one of the more popular brands of Akazake.


(c) Kumamoto Prefecture

In addition to the above souvenirs, Kumamoto is also home to many other delicious souvenirs, such as Musha-gaeshi and Homare no Jindaiko. These items are perfect as mementos of your travels, so if you happen to visit Kumamoto, make sure to check them out!

*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.

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Writer: iizuka

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