With the Rugby World Cup in Kamaishi of Iwate Prefecture, as well as LCWS being held in Sendai later this month (maybe some of you will come up to Iwate Prefecture), many may be wondering what delicious, unique local gems you can find while visiting Iwate Prefecture.

Or perhaps you are an expat living in Japan and are well aware of how ‘omiyage’ culture (the giving and receiving of gifts/souvenirs) is deeply rooted into Japanese society and are looking to buy your coworkers a gift!

In part 1, I will list just some (the tip of the iceberg) of the major consumable souvenirs found in Iwate Prefecture.

Food Options:

You may have heard of ‘Tokyo Banana’ or cheese tartes from Sapporo but it’s not just the major cities that have specialized treats.

An exciting thing about travelling through Japan is that even the smaller cities have their own unique assortment of flavors which is not only reflected in the cuisine but also in the souvenirs! From prefecture to prefecture, city to city, or even town to town, there are a vast array of unique products. For example, let’s head to some cities bordering Ichinoseki City (Iwate Prefecture). If you head east to Kesennuma City (Miyagi Prefecture) you will find an abundance of seafood souvenirs or cakes filled with pineapple jam (Kesennuma’s town mascot is based off a sea squirt, and sea squirts look like pineapples…hence pineapple cake), head south and you will encounter Tome City (Miyagi Prefecture) which is well-known for its rice products and aburafu (deep fried wheat-gluten), to the North, the World Heritage site of Hiraizumi (Iwate Prefecture) with its profound history and abundance of golden artifacts to bring you a fancy golden spherical baumkuchen.

Ichinoseki is famous for mochi (sticky rice cake) so some of the top souvenirs are in those quarters such as:

Tamura-no-ume (田むらの梅)

Courtesy of SHOEIDOH (https://www.shoeidoh.co.jp/)

A special dessert that has been around for a century. It is a blend of intricate tastes and textures and consists of mochi with a jellylike plum sauce inside which is wrapped in an aoshiso (green perilla) leaf.

Gomasuridango (ごま摺り団子)

Courtesy of SHOEIDOH (https://www.shoeidoh.co.jp/)

A delicate mochi with a rich sesame syrup inside. As you can see in the picture, there are many variations of the popular dessert – the one with the black filling is the classic sesame type, but other fillings include sweet edamame paste known as zunda, and matcha cream!

Just as a side note, both these treats are products of Shoeidoh which specialize in an array of ‘wagashi’ (traditional Japanese treats). If you are around Ichinoseki Station at some point, I highly recommend popping into their main branch where they sell a variety of beautifully crafted, seasonal Japanese confectionaries. You can also try some of their wagashi at the cafe inside and pair it with some freshly brewed matcha or drink of your choice.

Shoeidoh’s main branch location: https://goo.gl/maps/nsyD2VbH6cx7caLA9

In the rest of this article I’d like to introduce you to some highly regarded food omiyage from Iwate Prefecture (you can find most of the souvenirs listed at major train stations in Iwate Prefecture and at popular tourist destinations – check the link below too).

Oshu Potato (奥州ポテト)

Oshu Potato, a specialty of Oshu City, is a sweet potato/custardy dessert. If you have tried sweet potato, you may imagine a dry, crumbly texture but Oshu Potato has a delightfully smooth, melt-in-your-mouth texture. The main ingredients are sweet potato, sugar, cream and egg.

Kamome no Tamago (かもめの玉子)

The name of this sweet translates to ‘seagull egg’ as it originates from a coastal area of Iwate, Ofunato City. Fear not, it only looks like an egg – the inside (the ‘yolk’ part) consists of sweet bean paste, the outer layer (the white) is cake and white chocolate!

Iwate’s local sakes

The Nanbu Toji group, which was established in Iwate, has its own distinct style and technique that is highly regarded in the world of sake brewing. This special technique combined with Iwate’s climate and water make it an ideal place for sake brewing. Keep an eye out for Nanbu Toji (南部杜氏) written on the label. Some prominent brands of sake include Asabiraki, Nanbubijin, Shichifukujin and Akabu. Hamachidori made in Kamaishi is also an exceptional example.

Koiwai Farm’s dairy products

Koiwai Farm is the most famous farm in Iwate and well worth a visit for its charming scenery and delicious dairy products. Try the brand’s butter cake, cookies, and cheese among other goodies.

Nanbusenbei Iwateya (南部せんべい巖手屋)

This rice-cracker may very well be the souvenir which represent Iwate. The timeless crackers have been around for many years and have grown in variety from the classic sesame seed to peanut, squid, natto and apple flavors.

I can’t reiterate enough that there is a whole lot more to add to this list! But one of the most fun parts of souvenir snack shopping is discovering what you like by going around and trying all of the samplers at the shops! If you are unsure of what the specialties are in the area, ask the shop person ‘osusume wa nan desuka?’ (What do you recommend?) and they should point you in the right direction.

Check out the link to find out more on Iwate shopping and where to find local specialties: https://visitiwate.com/travel-directory?category%5B%5D=local-speciality







田むらの梅: およそ100年の歴史があるこのお菓子は絶妙な味と食感があり、中にはゼリーのような梅ソースが入った餅、青しその葉に包まれています。 

ごま摺り団子: 中に濃いごまのミツが入ったお餅です。写真をみてみますと、いろいろなバージョンがあります。ごま摺り団子には黒いミツが入っています。 ずんだや抹茶クリームのお団子もあります。



奥州ポテト: 奥州市の名物である奥州ポテトは、サツマイモとカスタードのデザートです。

かもめの玉子: 岩手県大船渡市の沿岸地域が発祥の「かもめの玉子」は英語に翻訳されると’seagull egg’となります。ご安心ください、卵のように見えるだけです。

岩手の地酒: 特に岩手県に設立された南部杜氏グループは、酒造りの世界では高く評価されている独自のスタイルと技術を持っています。
有名な銘柄には、あさ開、 南部美人、七福神、赤武などがあります。

小岩井農場の乳製品: 小岩井農場は岩手県で最も有名な農場であり、最高の景色とおいしい乳製品をお楽しめます。

南部せんべい巖手屋: この煎餅は岩手県を代表するお土産の一つです。



岩手県の様々なお土産や店を紹介しています: https://visitiwate.com/travel-directory?category%5B%5D=local-speciality