The Most Characteristic Souvenirs of Kumamoto

ByJustin Hanus
Mar 25, 2024

The Most Characteristic Souvenirs of Kumamoto

Every region you visit in Japan will have something unique about it. Often, these qualities are reflected in the souvenirs. To remember your time in Kumamoto, there are a few souvenirs in particular to pick up.

1. Ikinari Dango

A treat you’ll only find in Kumamoto is ikinari dango. These are steamed buns made from sweet potato from Kyushu and filled with various types of bean paste. Chill them before eating to ensure you enjoy them to the fullest.

2. Homare no Jindaiko

Another snack from Kumamoto that makes a perfect souvenir is Homare no Jindaiko. This is a gyuhi (a type of rice cake) covered in a red bean and honey paste. Each Homare no Jindaiko comes individually wrapped in a box containing several. There are even boxes featuring the prefecture’s mascot, Kumamon.

3. Sake

A classic souvenir from anywhere in Japan is sake. There are several breweries in Kumamoto producing local sake, each with a distinct flavor. However, if you want an alternative to a bottle of sake, look out for sake castella. This is a cake based on brandy cake. The creator of sake castella developed it specifically to boost tourism in the area.

4. Kumamon Cider

Kumamoto also produces cider, which is made using spring water from Aso. This is another souvenir that features Kumamon — to make its origin extra obvious. You’ll find Kumamoto cider in most stores selling alcohol around the prefecture.

5. Ichopai

Ichopai are cookies in the shape of a gingko leaf — this is the unofficial symbol of Kumamoto, due to the many gingko trees around its castle. You’ll find boxes with different amounts of Ichopai, ranging from six to 20.

6. Furikake

Kumamoto produces its own furikake mixes — condiments to sprinkle over rice or add as a seasoning to whatever you’re cooking. Choose from a variety of flavors according to what you expect to use the furikake for. Note that most contain chicken stock.

7. Dekopon Jelly

Unfortunately, you won’t be able to take back home any mandarin oranges (called dekopon) grown in Kumamoto. The next best thing is some dekopon jelly — in fact, some people find the jelly even more delicious than the oranges themselves. The jelly has a different taste depending on whether you eat it chilled or at room temperature. Experiment with both to see what you prefer.

8. Hand-Painted Boxes

If you want a souvenir that will last longer than something edible, look for some Kumamoto crafts. A top choice is a wooden box to store your treasures. Since the boxes are hand painted, each one is unique.

9. Utogara Souvenirs

Other non-consumable souvenirs to put on your list are items featuring utogara — a pattern that represents the city of Uto in Kumamoto prefecture. Members of the volunteer group based in Uto City create souvenirs with these patterns, including washcloths and postcards.

Since Kumamoto is defined by its local culture, you won’t have any trouble finding plenty of souvenirs to take back to your family and friends. In particular, though, stay on the lookout for unique crafts and foods that are only available in Kumamoto.

Ka23 13, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

About the author

Justin Hanus editor

Leave a Reply