What is お土産(omiyage) in the first place?
I’d like to write what お土産(omiyage) is before I tell you about omiyage in Kanazawa. I think it is one of Japanese cultures that people buy some souvenirs for their family, friends or co-workers when they go on a trip. When I take a vacation and go on a trip for somewhere, I always buy omiyage to my teammates at the office where I work. I tell them “Thank you” directly, but giving omiyage is another way of showing my appreciation for my teammates who take care of my work during my absence.
You might imagine that souvenirs are post cards, magnets, or something like them, but the most common souvenir in Japan is snacks, which have the local characteristics. (For example, there are a lot of snacks or desserts made from apples in 青森(Aomori), where the most famous prefecture for growing apples in Japan. ) In other words, you can find what special products are in the area when you see some omiyage there. There are also a lot of snacks sold at sightseeing spots in urban areas or amusement parks in Japan. There is no special product in the areas, but they sell snacks with unique-shaped, unique flavors, or unique packages etc.
Some of snacks for omiyage in Kanazawa are made from its special products, and others are not. Firstly, I’d like to tell you about ‘omiyage’ made from sweet potato named 五郎島金時(Gorojima-kintoki), which is grown in Kanazawa city.
五郎島金時ポッキー (Gorojima-kintoki Pocky)
Pocky is Japanese snack produced by Ezaki Glico, consists of chocolate-coated biscuit sticks. There are many flavors for Pocky limited season and areas, and Gorojima-kintoki flavor is limited in Ishikawa Prefecture. The color of chocolate is yellow like the sweet potato. One box contains fifteen pockies, and it costs 886 yen.
金澤福うさぎ (Kanazawa fuku usagi)
I wrote about animal-shaped deserts before (Cute animal-shaped desserts), and I’d like to add this “Kanazawa fuku usagi” to them. 福 fuku means “good luck” or “good fortune” , and うさぎ (Usagi) means rabbit/bunny. (By the way, the heroine’s name of Sailor Moon is Usagi. It is “Serena” in English dubbing though.) It is a bunny-shaped manjyu(=a bun with a bean-jam filing), but the filing is made from Gorojima-kintoki sweet potato instead of beans.
They also sell Kanazawa fuku usagi with different flavors; Dainagon-red beans, twig tea, pumpkin, and yuzu citrus. A box which has five pieces of Kanazawa fuku usagi costs 756 yen. (Ten pieces for 1404 yen, fifteen pieces for 2052 yen, and twenty pieces for 2754 yen)
Most of the following omiyage are not made from special products in Kanazawa, but they have unique shapes and flavors so they are popular for “omiyage”.
雪吊り(Yukizuri or yukitsuri) is a Japanese technique for protecting trees and shrubs from heavy snow. People use bamboo poles with ropes attached to limbs in order to support trees. You can see yukizuri at 兼六園(Kenrokuen garden) in Kanazawa during winter. This snack called YUKIZURI was inspired by yukizuri at the garden, so the appearance looks after yukizuri’s rope. Almond cream and chocolate are put between shortbread and mille-feuille, and the white sugar topped on the mille-feuille looks like snow and it contains梅酒 (Ume shu= plum liquor) slightly. They sell various flavors for Yukizuri limited season as follows.
Yuzu (Japanese citrus): January to March
Sakura (Cherry blossom): March to April
Strawberry: May to June
兼六園物語(Kenrokuen version): They used plums grown at Kenrokuen for this YUKIZURI. You can buy it only in Kenrokuen.
金箔(Kinpaku=gold leaf): They used Gorojima-kintoki sweet potato for the shortbread, and small pieces of gold leaf are topped on the mille-feuille. You can buy this YUKIZURI in throughout the year.
富山(Toyama): Toyama is a prefecture in Hokuriku region, and it is located on right side of Ishikawa. The shortbread is chocolate flavor, and plum liquor called 幻の瀧名水梅酒(Maboroshinotaki Meisuiumeshu), which is made in Toyama is used for the white sugar topping.
福井(Fukui): Fukui is also a prefecture in Hokuriku region, and it is the left side of Ishikawa. They use matcha-flavored shortbread, and the white sugar topping contains the plum liquor called 吟香梅(Ginkoubai) made in Fukui.
A box which has ten sticks of YUKIZURI costs 1080 yen, and a box of Kinpaku YUKIZURI costs 1512 yen.
Kaichin looks like glass works, but it is a translucent jelly shaped in animals or plants, and they are coated with sugar. The jelly is made from agar, so it doesn’t melt even at normal temperature. Although there are some colors, the flavors are all the same. A small box costs 756 yen, middle is 1672 yen, and large is 2160 yen.
もりの音 (Mori no oto)
Morino oto literally means sounds of forest. This dessert is similar to Kaichin, but mori no oto is not in many shapes like Kaichin, but it is in a small-square shape. There are four colors, translucent white, green, purple and brown, and each has different flavors.
Translucent white: Normal sugar flavor, like kaichin.
Green: Matcha green tea flavor
Purple: Blue berry flavor
Brown: Black sugar flavor
A box costs 972 yen, and small box costs 356 yen.
うちわ煎餅 (Uchiwa senbei = Japanese paper fan-shaped rice crackers)
Uchiwa means paper fan, and senbei means rice crackers. Rice crackers are coated with sugar, and there are four colors, white, light blue, pink, and brown, but all of them are the same flavor. Before trying one of them, I had thought they were very sweet since they are colorful, but I found that it was just my wrong idea. They are not too sweet, and the taste matches with green tea very well. (You cannot eat the handgrip part by the way.)
A box contains twelve rice crackers costs 1404 yen.
加賀の白峰 (Kaga no hakuhou)
Kaga is the old name of Kanazawa and some areas around there. Hakuhou means white ridge. You wouldn’t come up with any ideas just hearing the name of the dessert, but if you see its appearance, you can guess easily what kind of dessert this is. There are walnuts cooked with rice syrup inside the walnut-shaped 最中 (Monaka = Japanese thin wafers). It is safe even if you eat the shell of this walnut.
A package contains six pieces costs 777 yen, nine pieces for 1123 yen, fifteen pieces for 2106 yen and twenty pieces for 2808 yen.
You can buy the above desserts and snacks at souvenir shops in the shopping mall called 金澤百番街(Kanazawa hyakubangai) located in the same building of Kanazawa station. *You cannot enter the shopping mall after going inside the gate of JR, so please be careful.
The information of souvenir shops in Kanazawa hyakubangai
あんと(Anto) : Business hours are from 8:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Rinto : Business hours are from 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Address: 1-1 Kinoshinbo-machi, Kanazawa-city, Ishikawa prefecture