Nagasaki is one of Japan’s closest port cities to the Asian mainland, which has played the most important role in foreign trade relations for many centuries. Indeed, it is heavily influenced by European culture, as it was the only window open to the outside world during Japan’s ancient Edo Period. While you take in the sights of the picturesque natural landscapes and alluring East-meets-West architecture, don’t forget to bring home some exquisite souvenirs to share the pleasant travel memories in the city. Regardless of whether you are a food and beverage or craft junkie, here is the ultimate souvenir guide for a piece of the best Nagasaki mementos to bring home!
For the sweet tooth foodie
1. Castella - the classic Nagasaki souvenir with a European touch
Introduced to Japan by the Portuguese in the mid-16th century, the Castella is one of the most popular snacks in the country. The original Portuguese recipe only used flour, sugar and eggs to create the classic pound cake. The Japanese named the cake “Castella” because it was thought to have come from a region in Spain known as “Castile”. As sugar is not a local product in the country, the only way to get this ingredient during the national isolation period was through the Nagasaki port.
Through continual innovation, what we get to see and taste today is a uniquely sweet and moist Nagasaki version of Castella, the pride of the port city. For the finest version of Castella, head to the famous snack shop in southern Japan - Bunmeido (文明堂). Bunmeido was founded in 1900 by Yasugoro Nakagawa in the southern port city of Nagasaki. All their snacks are handmade using the best quality ingredients even up till today. Pack some beautifully designed boxes of the Castella home for a premium taste of the classic Castella!
Bunmeido main branch (文明堂本店)
Address: 1-1 Edomachi, Nagasaki, Nagasaki Prefecture
Opening Hours: 8.30am - 7.30pm.
Access: 1-minute walk from Ohato municipal tram station
Contact: +81 95-824-0002
2. Shiawase Cruz - sweet crackers with a slice of historical flavour
In 1549, Christianity was introduced to Japan for the first time by Portuguese Catholic, Francis Xavier, in the Nagasaki region. Hence, to symbolize the introduction of Christianity in Japan, the Shiawase Cruz was created in 1964.
Shiawase means “happiness” in Japanese, and Cruz actually represents the Christian Cross, which is embossed on the rice cracker. Different types of flavours are available for this sweet crunchy delight, including white chocolate, coffee and strawberry. Share this slice of history with your loved ones back home as they enjoy the sweet delicacy!
Shiawase Cruz Chitosepia shop (ボンパティチトセピア店)
Address: Chitosepia, 5-1 Chitose-cho, Nagasaki, Nagasaki Prefecture
Opening Hours: 10am - 9pm. Closed on some Wednesdays.
Access: 1-minute walk from Chitose-cho tram station
Contact: +81 95-842-2182
3. Yori-yori - the signature Chinese-influenced Nagasaki souvenir
Besides the heavy influence of European culture on Nagasaki food, there are many types of Chinese-influenced food in the port city too. This is because Nagasaki is one of the closest port cities in Japan to China. The yori-yori (よりより) is a sweet fried-dough snack with a special coiled structure. Fried till golden brown, the yori-yori is not only appealing to the eye but also has a fragrant smell. There is a miniature version of this delightful snack - chiyori (ちより), equally yummy, which you can grab some and bring home to share with your family and friends. Get one of these signature souvenirs from the Yorozujun Confectionery (萬順製菓).
Yorozujun Confectionery (萬順製菓)
Address: 7-28 Suwa-cho, Nagasaki, Nagasaki Prefecture
Opening Hours: 10am - 7pm. Irregular holidays.
Contact: +81 95-824-0477
For foodies looking for savoury unique food
4. Kakuni Manju - marinated pork in steamed bun
The Kakuni is a Japanese simmered pork belly dish, inspired by Chinese cuisine since the Sakoku era. Manju translates to steamed bun. Thus combine the two together and you get a slice of delicious simmered pork belly sandwiched between the soft steamed bun. For a tasty piece of this yummy delicacy that you can pack into your luggage, purchase one from Iwasaki Honpo, established since 1965. They have a store conveniently located at Nagasaki Airport.
This savoury delight may sound very sinful, but the pork belly fat is carefully removed so it’s not as unhealthy as you think! Marinated in a secret sauce, the pork belly is so tender it melts easily in your mouth. Together with the fluffy steamed bun, the Kakuni Manju is certainly a taste you can’t forget!
Iwasaki Honpo (岩崎本舗)
Address: 1-10-12 Yubinbango, Nagasaki, Nagasaki Prefecture
Opening Hours: 9am - 7pm.
Contact: +81 95-845-1562
5. Japanese Somen - thin hand-stretched noodles for the perfect summer dish
The Japanese love their noodles and they create this in various thickness using different ingredients, from Ramen, Soba and Udon to Somen. Commonly eaten with chilled soup or dipping sauce, Somen is a type of thin hand-stretched noodles, a specialty of Nagasaki. For the best Japanese Somen that you can cook back home, head to Ichiko Honpo . Besides the original flavour, they also carry unique flavours such as black sesame, seaweed and sweet potato.
Ichiko Honpo (一高本舗) Shop and Restaurant
Address: 4615-2 Tei, Fukaecho, Minamishimabara-city, Nagasaki prefecture
Opening Hours: 9.30am - 5.30pm.
Contact: +81 95-762-2722
6. Castella Cider and Unzen Lemonade - bottled beverages from the hot spring town of Unzen
In the famous hot spring town of Unzen in the Nagasaki Prefecture, you can find pretty bottled beverages for keepsake. The Unzen Lemonade is made with the sparkling Unzen hot spring water, in a specially designed bottle inspired by Pearl S. Buck. The Castella Cider is so-named because it is packaged to look like a box of the famous Castella. If you can’t get enough of the sponge cake, purchase a bottle of the liquid version as a memento too!
Onsen Sake Dokoro Taura (Taura Shoten)
Address: 320 Unzen, Obama-cho, Unzen-city, Nagasaki Prefecture
Opening hours: 10am - 8pm, open 365 days.
Contact: +81 95-773-3571
For the crafts lover
7. Hasami Porcelain
Japanese porcelain is one of the oldest form of art since the Neolithic period. It may seem silly to bring back something as fragile as porcelain home, but once you see how gorgeous the Hasami porcelain is, it’s hard to not succumb to temptation. The Hasami-yaki ceramics is a traditional craft in Nagasaki with a 400-year-old history. It is one of the top ceramics in Japan since the Edo period. During the Sakoku era, the Europeans exported Japanese sake and soy sauce back to Europe in Hasami-yaki bottles. Bring some traditional yet affordable Hasami porcelain home to complement your modern tableware!
Address: 2255-2, Isekigo, Hasami, Higashisonogi District, Nagasaki Prefecture
Contact: +81 95-626-7162
8. Make your own Nagasaki glass
Instead of buying ready-made souvenirs home for your loved ones, why not try making the beautiful Nagasaki vidro (vidro is the Portuguese word for glass) yourself? This glasswork was adopted from Portugal before the Sakoku era, using the blown glass technique. Learn how to create these pleasant art pieces at Rurian Glass Studios where you can choose from a selection of workshops such as the stained glass experience, blown glass experience or kaleidoscope experience. Trust me, it will be a truly memorable piece of souvenir that you will be so proud of!
Rurian Glass Studios (瑠璃庵)
Address: 5-11, Matsugaemachi, Nagasaki-city, Nagasaki Prefecture
Contact: +81 95-827-0737
Tasteful souvenirs for a piece of wonderful Nagasaki
There’s something for everyone in Nagasaki, whether you are looking for special local food specialties or traditional art and craft. Share the story behind each piece of unique souvenir with your family and friends, so that they can appreciate your lovely gifts even more. Delight everyone with the great Nagasaki souvenirs when you return home!
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