Omiyage, local, often food-based souvenirs, are a big thing in Japan. Each of the country’s 47 prefectures takes pride in producing a well-known representative that speaks for their area and reflects their unique terroir. But which region and what delicacy would come out on top if put to the test in a general election? A recent television programme in Japan thought to do just that, conducting a national tournament of omiyage vs omiyage, sifting through the delegates to bring us the top 20 areas and their delicious representatives.
Using surveys to whittle down the preliminary candidates to just one for each region, the final 47 were ranked by a panel of 50 experts, including travel journal editors and writers, head chefs from five-star hotels, and souvenir specialists. Their top 20 verdict is as follows:
#1 : Hokkaido – Royce Fresh Cream Chocolate
Leading the nation’s regional representatives is Hokkaido’s signature chocolate from Royce. Hokkaido is the land of high quality, delicious milk and cream.
#2: Miyagi Prefecture – Shin-Tan (A special brand of gyu-tan, beef tongue)
This brand is recommended for its juicy thickness. Interestingly, the beef tongue used is from Australia and New Zealand.
#3: Aichi – Yukari Ebi Senbei (Yukari Japanese prawn crackers)
This brand dates back to the Edo period (1603-1868).
#4 : Toyama – Masu no Sushi (trout sushi)
Wrapped with green bamboo leaves and packed in a round wooden container. First made in 1717 by a local clansman.
#5 : Ishikawa – Tori Yasai Miso (chicken and vegetable bean paste)
This is used as a soup base for hot pot dishes. Loved by trading ship sailors in the Edo period.
#6 : Tochigi – Reito Nama Gyoza (frozen Japanese pan-fried dumplings)
They say the best gyoza in Japan can be found at Min Min restaurant in Tochigi. There are always long lines to pick up a pack of their frozen gyoza.
#7 : Kagoshima – Satsuma Age Chīzu Iri (Satsuma fry with cheese)
Fried handmade fish paste filled with cheese.
#8 : Aomori – Ki ni Naru Ringo (Apple Pie Pastry Dessert)
This is a whole apple soaked in syrup and baked with a pie crust. The region is famous for its delicious apples.
#9 : Kanagawa – Kiyoken no Shiumai (Kiyoken steamed meatball dumplings)
Japan’s largest Chinatown is in Kanagawa and this is the brand to look for when you want to buy the best Chinese dumplings.
#10 : Shiga – Baumkuchen (lit. log cake, in German)
Traditionally from Germany, this style of cake is popular throughout Japan, but they say that the ones in Shiga are the best.
#11: Mie – Nagamochi (lit. long, pounded rice cake)
First made 400 years ago, this is a long rice cake sweet filled with red bean paste.
#12: Kochi – Shiokenpi (lit. salty, hard dried)
Sweet and salty oven baked sweets. Kochi is famous for tough fighting dogs in the city of Tosa and interestingly, the etymology of the word kenpi stems from “dog skin”.
#13: Akita – Inaniwa Hoshi Udon (dried wheat noodle)
Wheat noodles are usually very thick but Akita’s Inaniwa udon are unique throughout Japan because they’re unusually thin.
#14: Nara – Kaki no Ha Sushi (lit. persimmon leaf sushi)
A type of pressed sushi. The persimmon leaves are cured in salt which preserves the sushi.
#15: Yamanashi – Kikyou Shingen Mochi (lit. balloon flower Shingen pounded rice cake)
Named in honour of Takeda Shingen (1521-1573), a warlord who lived in the area. This is a bite-sized portion of mochi (pounded rice cake) eaten with brown sugar syrup and roasted soybean flour. It comes wrapped in a traditional Japanese cloth.
#16: Miyazaki – Chīzu Manjū (cheese dumplings)
Cheese encased in a western style dough, these are said to melt in your mouth.
#17: Tokushima – Katsu Ten (fried fish cutlet)
A tasty local snack made from fish paste.
#18: Nagano – Kuri Kanoko (lit. dappled chestnut)
A thick jellied chestnut dessert, made from sugar, chestnuts and agar agar.
#19: Gifu – Mizu Manjū (lit. water dumplings)
Traditionally eaten in summertime, these are soft, transparent balls of arrowroot filled with a sweet red bean paste.
#20: Iwate – Kamome no Tamago (lit. sea gull’s egg)
An egg-shaped sweet made from white bean paste and covered in white chocolate.
Which one is your favourite?
Source: TV Asahi