Tokyo is a leader of cuisine in Japan, housing a lot of well-established shops that have a history dating back more than 100 years. Here are five of the best souvenirs that can be bought from these long-established stores.
Toraya is a confectionery shop that has been in operation for more than 400 years. It is especially famous for its yokan (Japanese confection that is made by adding sugar and agar to red bean paste made mainly with azuki beans, and then boiling or steaming the mix while kneading it). This shop offers various kinds of yokan, including Yoru no Umi, which contains a basic mixture of mashed and whole sweet azuki beans called ogura-an, as well as Kocha (black tea), Hachimitsu (honey), Shiro Miso (white miso) and Shiki no Fuji, made has a Mt. Fuji design.
There are other flavors available in many sizes as well, including Ume no Hana that is characterized by the distinct flavor of azuki beans, Shinryoku that has a rich green tea aroma, and Omokage that features the robust flavor of brown sugar. The assortment of individually wrapped small yokan variants is perfect as a souvenir. You can purchase boxes carrying at least five small yokan (1,300 JPY (excl. tax)). You should definitely try this masterpiece of a well-established shop that best represents Japan.
1. Toraya's Yokan
Established in 1909, Tachibana is a shop in Ginza that specializes in karinto, a Japanese confection that is made by adding sugar syrup to flour. The mixture is then hardened by kneading and drying it, then it's deep-fried in oil and covered in sugar. It may be a simple treat, but such simplicity is what gives each shop their characteristic flair. There are two kinds of karinto at Tachibana: the Saeda, the thin variant with a light texture, and the Koro, the thick type that is quite filling. Karinto are packed in pouches and they cost 900 JPY and above. Both types of karinto are sweet and they are so delicious that once you start eating, you won’t be able to stop. So, how about buying some karinto, which boasts of the highest level of popularity among the sweets in Tokyo, for souvenirs?
2. Tachibana's Karinto
Eitaro Sohonpo is a long-established Japanese confectionery located in Nihonbashi that was founded in 1857. It sells various kinds of Japanese sweets, but out of all its products, the candy called Eitaro Ame is its most famous. The Eitaro Ame comes in such flavors as the Umeboshi Ame which has a triangular shape that makes it look like umeboshi (pickled plum), the Kuro Ame that uses brown sugar, the green tea-flavored Matcha Ame, and the Kocha Ame that has the flavor of black tea. All the flavors are packed in cans and each can costs 360 JPY (excl. tax). Recommended at this shop are the Nodo Ame that is good for your throat, and the Kaju Ame, which is a fruit candy made without any artificial scents or coloring that will let you enjoy the natural sweetness, smell and refreshing color of fruits. Both come in plastic cases and cost 340 JPY (excl. tax). Buy some of the candies made by this veteran confectionery shops that is still loved by its customers today as it was back then.
3. Eitaro Sohonpo's Eitaro Ame
Yamamoto Noriten is a nori (dried pressed seaweed) shop with a royal warrant, as they were purveyors of food to the royal family, that was established in Nihonbashi in 1849. They're famous for having developed flavor nori, so it is a shop where you can buy high-quality nori and nori products. You can choose from a wide variety of products, from the simple roasted nori and flavored nori, up to the snack nori (500 JPY (excl. tax)) in flavors like shrimp, dried young sardines, plum, and sesame seed.
Ume no Hana (No.1 can costs 2,500 JPY (excl. tax)), the representative nori brand of this shop, is a staple gift in Japan. It is characterized by its deep flavors and melt-in-your-mouth goodness. There’s no doubt that whoever receives this as a gift will be very happy!
※Photo is for illustration purposes
4. Yamamoto Noriten's Nori
Hinode Senbei is an exclusive shop for senbei (rice crackers) that is baked by hand at its shop in Asakusa that started in 1913. They offer demonstrations of their production method there. It is so popular that even people from faraway travel all the way here just to get hold of their authentic senbei that is carefully baked one by one. This shop’s specialty is the 10-Piece Tenpiboshi Tokujo Teyaki Set (with individually wrapped senbei inside) (1,200 JPY (incl. tax)) that is made by drying the crackers naturally under the sun. They have other types of senbei, too, such as the Karusen (500 JPY (incl. tax)) that has a light texture, and the 1-Piece Tenpiboshi Tokujo Karashi (individually wrapped) (150 JPY (incl. tax)). So, if you go to Asakusa, you should drop by this shop!
※Photo is for illustration purposes
5. Hinode Senbei's Senbei
Now with this list as your guide, try to choose one of these fascinating products that are the pride of these long-established shops!
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.