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【Across Japan】Top 6 Hidden Famous Yet Souvenirs with a Twist

When choosing a souvenir or present, you probably want to find something that will make the receiver happy or surprised, correct? However, many people still end up going for the same old thing. This article introduces souvenirs that are a little different than usual for those kinds of people. They are exquisite items with a twist that will make you say, “I had no idea this thing existed!”

A Confectionery with a New Texture Created by a Genius Chef (Tokyo)

Corn Mousse Sandwich from AU GAMIN DE TOKIO

AU GAMIN DE TOKIO is a shop with 7 branches in Tokyo that is led by its chef, Takemasa Kinoshita. It is a boutique shop that specializes in selling the sweets created by Kinoshita, who has captured the hearts of many gourmets and foodies all over Japan. This shop’s famous signature dish is the Tomorokoshi no Mousse Sand (Corn Mousse Sandwich) (1,300 JPY (excl. tax) for 4 pieces and 1,800 JPY (excl. tax) for 6 pieces). The mousse in the sandwich uses generous amounts of thick mascarpone cheese. The cookie dough incorporates crushed cornflakes to make it rich in texture and flavor. This product is sold frozen, but you can enjoy it either frozen or thawed. If you have it frozen, the crunchy cookie and the soft, sweet mousse will melt together to create a confectionery with an exquisite balance in texture. It goes well with alcoholic drinks, and is perfect as a souvenir, too.

Phone: 03-6380-0045
Hours: 8:00 AM – 10:00 PM
(Saturdays, Sundays, Public Holidays) 8:00 AM - 9:30 PM


NEWoMan 2F, 4-1-6 Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo

Chinatown Senbei That Can Serve as an Appetizer or Snack (Yokohama)

Kurogoma Senbei from Jukei-Hanten Daiichi Baiten at Yokohama Chinatown

This is the Kurogoma Senbei (rice crackers with black sesame seeds) (500 JPY) from Jukei-Hanten Daiichi Baiten at Yokohama Chinatown. Having a rare salty taste in the sea of sweet Chinese snacks – such as those that have Chinese red bean paste – it is a senbei (rice cracker) that is like a snack. It comes in bite-sized pieces, and you will surely be hooked onto its crunchy texture. This is a simple product that is made by frying dough in rapeseed oil until it is crunchy and aromatic. Black sesame seeds are kneaded into wheat flour to create the dough. This is a refresh of Jukei-Hanten’s old-fashioned Kurogoma Senbei. Sales were resumed from 2016.

■ Jukei-Hanten Daiichi Baiten at Yokohama Chinatown
Phone: 045-641-6874
Hours: 11:00 AM – 8:00 PM
(Fridays, Saturdays) 10:00 AM – 10:00 PM
(Sundays, Public Holidays) 10:00 AM – 9:00 PM
Closed: None

Jukei-Hanten Daiichi Baiten at Yokohama Chinatown

185 Yamashita-cho, Naka-ku, Yokohama-shi, Kanagawa

Hit Dairy Product that Gets Sold Out by Night (Hokkaido)

Takahashi Dairy Farm Niseko Nomu Yogurt 500 from HUG Mart

HUG Mart is a supermarket that sources its ingredients directly from around 100 contract farmers in Hokkaido. While there are many vegetables and fruits sold here, there is a souvenir that is worth a look amid all the produce – the Takahashi Dairy Farm Niseko Nomu Yogurt (Drinkable Yogurt by Takahashi Dairy Farm) (500ml, priced at 400 JPY per piece). This yogurt won a gold medal at the Gotochi Yogurt Grand Prix (Local Yogurt Grand Prix) that was held at FOODEX JAPAN 2014. It is so famous that they virtually fly off the racks by dusk! This yogurt is made by Takahashi Dairy Farm in Niseko Town. It was apparently created when the farm decided to make processed milk products to let people taste the delicious milk that comes from their high-quality feed. This safe, drinkable yogurt does not use any flavorings, acidifiers, or stabilizers.

■HUG Mart
Phone: 011-242-8989
Hours: 10:00 AM – 7:00 PM
Closed: None

HUG Mart

Sapporo Plaza 2.5 Bldg. 1F (Tanukikoji 5), Nishi 5 Minami 2-jo, Chuo-ku, Sapporo-shi, Hokkaido

Sweet and Salty! Miso Roll Cake (Nagoya)

Nagoya Roll from Café Gentiane

Café Gentiane is marked by a red signboard and can be found by the central ticket gate of JR Nagoya Station. It is an incredibly famous spot for souvenirs. All the cakes are carefully created by its female pastry chef. The Nagoya Roll (1,029 JPY for a whole roll, 463 JPY per slice) is a Japanese-style roll cake that is made by fusing hatcho miso (a kind of dark miso) with fresh cream, sprinkling black soybeans onto the mixture, and then wrapping it in caramel-flavored dough. It has a refined sweetness that comes from the combination of miso and fresh cream, making it the perfect accompaniment to coffee, as well as Japanese tea. The moment you take a bite, your mouth will be filled with sweetness and saltiness at the same time. You can buy just a slice, or one whole roll cake!

■ Café Gentiane
Phone: 052-533-6001
Hours: 7:00 AM – 10:00 PM (last order at 9:30 PM)
Closed: None
Seating capacity: 40 seats
※Separate areas for smokers and non-smokers

Café Gentiane

JR Nagoya Station, Nagoya Chuo-dori, 1-1-4 Meieki, Nakamura-ku, Nagoya-shi, Aichi

A Japanese Sweet that Highlights the Sensibility of a Graphic Designer (Kyoto)

Ochobo from UCHU wagashi

UCHU wagashi was opened in 2010 under the concept of “bringing excitement and happiness to people through Japanese sweets” by its owner, who hails from Kyoto. This is a new spot that focuses on the playful Japanese sweet, rakugan (a dry confection made by pressing starch and sugar). The Ochobo (1,080 JPY for 20 pieces) was born from the desire to go around temples, shrines, and other famous Kyoto spots while eating Japanese sweets. Matcha, hojicha (roasted green tea), and jasmine leaves are finely ground, and then mixed with wasanbon (refined Japanese sugar) to give flavor to the mixture. The main appeal of this confectionery is how they use the ingredients as they are. In order to prevent the tea leaves from losing flavor or causing damage to the sweets, they carefully hand wrap each piece in soft washi (Japanese paper).

■UCHU wagashi
Phone: 075-754-8538
Hours: 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
Closed: Mondays (shop will be open if Monday is a public holiday, and will close the following Tuesday)

UCHU wagashi

307 Shintomi-cho, Marutamachi-agaru, Teramachi-dori, Kamigyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto

Manju with Yamecha’s Gyokuro Tea Leaf Paste (Fukuoka)

Hakata Gyokuro Manju from Meigetsudo Hakata Station MING No. 1 Shop

Meigetsudo is famous for sweets named after Fukuoka and Hakata, such as the Hakata Jiman, Hakozaki Poppo, and Nishinakasu Kihinkan Romance. However, the product that has the most impactful appearance is the Hakata Gyokuro Manju (steamed yeast bun with tea leaf paste filling) (1,080 JPY for 6 pieces, up to 3,240 JPY for 18 pieces). Yamecha is a specialty tea of Fukuoka that has a rich distinctive sweetness and less bitterness. This is a luxurious dessert that is made by pounding fresh gyokuro (high-quality green tea) leaves into a paste, and then generously mixing it with bean paste to create the manju’s filling. This is made even more delicious by adding fresh cream to expand upon the deep sweetness of the gyokuro tea. Finally, it is wrapped in matcha dough to create a perfect balance in flavors. Take a bite and your mouth will be flooded with the refreshing flavor of tea and the light sweetness of the paste filling that has fresh cream! This confectionery goes great with green tea, black tea, and coffee.

■ Meigetsudo Hakata Station MING No. 1 Shop
Phone: 092-441-6445
Hours: 9:00 AM – 9:00 PM
Closed: None (according to the schedule of Hakata Station MING)

Meigetsudo Hakata Station MING No. 1 Shop

Hakata Station MING 1F, 1-1 Hakata-eki Chuo-gai, Hakata-ku, Fukuoka-shi, Fukuoka

If you want to surprise someone by giving them an extraordinary souvenir, then the items showcased in this souvenir will prove useful. They not only taste great, but they also look unique! Giving any of these away might just capture the heart of the recipient. If you’re planning to travel to places where these items are sold, check them out!

[This article was originally published in Walkerplus on 10.11.2017]

*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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