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These Are the Best of Eastern Japan! JR EAST Announces Winners of Souvenir Grand Prix

In celebration of its 30th anniversary in April 2017, the East Japan Railway Company (JR EAST) held a campaign dubbed “Minna ga Okuritai. JR Higashi-Nihon Omiyage Grand Prix” (Souvenirs I want to give to everyone. JR East Japan Souvenir Grand Prix) that received 128 entries from 17 cities and prefectures in the Eastern Japan region.

After tallying a total of 94,300 votes, the grand champion in the competition that got the most number of votes is the Butter Financier (2,268 JPY for a set of 12 pieces) (a financier is a traditional French pastry), the entry of Tokyo metropolitan area. This souvenir is mainly sold at Ekinaka in NEWoMan at the JR Shinjuku Station.

In addition to the Gold and Silver awards in the four categories (sweets, food, local sake and handicrafts), New Rookie of the Year awards were also given to a product in each division that has only been in the market for less than five years, as well as Special Awards that were based on the surveys of customers. Here are the results!

Category Award: Sweets

In the Sweets Category, the famous local confection Kikyo Shingen Mochi (mochi covered in roasted soybean flour called kinako) (manufactured by KIKYOUYA Co. Ltd.) that was entered by Yamanashi bagged the Gold Award. This delicacy is mainly sold at the CELEO Kofu Kai no Aji Kurabe, NewDays KIOSK, and Ekibenya Koshu at Kofu Station, and NewDays at Isawa Onsen Station.

The Silver Award was won by the traditional dessert called Ganso Kuzumochi (made by Funabashiya Co. Ltd.) that has been loved in Tokyo since the Edo period, while the Rookie of the Year Award was given to TERAKOYA Olive Sandwich (from TERAKOYA Co. Ltd.), also an entry from Tokyo.

Category Award: Food

In the Food Category, Iwate's entry Sanriku Kaihozuke (made by Nakamuraya), the bestselling dish of Nakamuraya, won the Gold Award. This dish is mainly sold at the Daichikan and Gurutto Yu Morioka Station Shop at Morioka Station.

Meanwhile, the Silver Award was received by the Sato Yosuke Inaniwa Udon (manufactured by Sato Yosuke), a creative udon (thick Japanese wheat noodles) that was born from the technology that has been kept in Akita. The Kaki no Ushioni (oyster boiled in salted water) (made by Suenaga Kaisan) from Miyagi won the Rookie of the Year Award.

Category Award: Local sake

In the Local Sake division, Gunma's entry Joetsusen Beer (made by Tsukiyano Craft Beer), which depicts the SL that runs across Joetsu Line, bagged the Gold Award. This beer is mainly sold at the Gift Garden and Meihinkan at Takasaki Station, and in NewDays at Jomo-Kogen Station.

The Silver Award in this category was received by Niigata’s Niigata Shupoppo (by Imayotsukasa Sake Brewery and Echigo Tsurukame), while the Rookie of the Year Award was given to Yamanashi’s RailBar (by Rolling-C).

Category Award: Handicrafts

In the last division in the event, the Handicrafts Category, the SUWADA Tsumekiri CLASSIC (by SUWADA BLACKSMITH WORKS), the ultimate nail clipper that was presented by the greatest authority in manufacturing and competed as the entry of Niigata, emerged as the Gold Award winner. This nail clipper is mainly sold at the Tsubame-Sanjo Wing at Tsubame-Sanjo Station, and the CoCoLo Yuzawa and Gangi Dori Chuo Ichiba at Echigo-Yuzawa Station.

The Silver Award in this category was presented to the JR East 30th Anniversary Mamegui (palm-sized cotton towel) Souvenir Set from Tokyo, while the Rookie of the Year Award was given to the Mashiko-yaki Mug Cup (from Otsuka Konai), Tochigi's entry.

Special Awards

As for the Special Awards that were chosen based on a survey of customers, the “Kazoku ni Okuritai Omiyage” (Souvenir I Want to Give to My Family) award went to Tochigi’s entry Goyotei Cheesecake (by Kuraya), the “Yujin ya Koibito in Okuritai Omiyage” (Souvenir I Want to Give to Friends and Sweethearts) award was given to the Tokyo Banana (by Grapestone), the permanent souvenir of Tokyo that men and women of all ages love, and the “Shutcho ni Kaitai Omiyage” (Souvenir I Want to Buy on Business Trip) award was presented to Yokohama’s Mukashinagara no Shumai (by Kiyoken), the dumplings from Kanagawa that are still delicious even when eaten cold.

There will be a lot of opportunities to buy souvenirs during summer, a season when many people return to their hometowns or go on a trip. Try to use this article as reference when you get lost in deciding what souvenir to take home with you!

[This article was originally published in Walkerplus on 07.13.2017]

*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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