Located on the southernmost part of Japan, Okinawa is a popular tourist destination. It is famous for its tropical climate, beautiful beaches, and wonderful culture. The mix of Western, Eastern and local traditions are unique to the island. Its novelty also makes shopping here a fun experience. There are a lot of products found exclusively in this area. Below is a list of suggestions of what omiyage (souvenir) to buy in Okinawa, Japan.
1. Sata andagi
Sata andagi is Okinawa’s version of fried doughnuts, which is said to be influenced by Chinese cuisine. The dough is shaped into spheres and deep-fried, making for a crispy exterior and a chewy interior. Sata andagi comes in a variety of flavours, ranging from simpler variants, such as plain or brown sugar, to more elaborate versions such as coconut, black sesame, coffee, and purple yam. This dessert keeps for a relatively long time, which is why it’s a favourite with those who want to bring this titbit for their loved ones back home. Michi-no-Eki Kyoda Yambaru Local Products Center is one of the places where you can buy it.
Michi-no-Eki Kyoda Yambaru Local Products Center
Address: 17-1 Kyoda, Nago 905-0024, Okinawa Prefecture
Chinsuko can be translated to “expensive, rare or precious confectionary,” but worry not, because this delicacy can be bought by just about anyone. The biscuits are made from sugar, flour, and lard. The classic flavour is butter, but it also comes in other variants such as chocolate, cinnamon, honey ginger, coffee, sesame salt, purple yam, and brown sugar. Aragi Chinsuko Hompo is one of the oldest shops selling this treat in Okinawa.
Aragi Chinsuko Hompo
Address: 1-3-68 Makishi, Naha 900-0013, Okinawa Prefecture
3. Awamori Cake
It may look plain, but the flavour of awamori cake is anything but. The key ingredient of this goodie is awamori wine, which adds a kick to it. A pro tip for eating this is to have a slice of the cake with sake. A sake, well fermented for three years or more, will bring out the flavour of this delicacy.
Address: 1 Chome-9-９ Makiminato, Urasoe-shi, Okinawa-ken 901-2131, Japan
4. Beniimo Tart
Purple yam lovers will surely love this treat. It is the main ingredient for this delicious Beniimo Tart. The yam is served as a topping in a boat-shaped pastry. The unique flavour and purple look of this dessert has made this the top souvenir from Okinawa, ranked by the residents themselves.
Address: 657-1 Uza, Yomitan-son, Nakagami-gun, Okinawa
5. Ryukyu glass
Ryukyu glass can easily be identified because of its distinctive blue and green hues, although other colours are now also being used in creating the glassware. Interestingly enough, the creation of these beautiful pieces is anchored on a key point in history. After World War II, the empty soda and liquor bottles that were discarded at the military bases were melted and remade into the glassware. This has come to be known as Ryukyu glass.
Ryukyu Glass Village
Address: 169 Fukuji, Itoman 901-0345, Okinawa Prefecture
Churadama comes from two words: “chura”, which means “beautiful”, and “dama”, which means “jewel”. It refers to glass balls, made from recycled glass, that come in a hue of rainbow colours. Shoppers can choose to buy a ball that is the same hue as their birthstone. Alternatively, they can pick one based on the meaning attributed by the colour. Each sphere is made by hand, which is why no two churadama look alike.
Churadama Main Store
Address: 2 Chome-4-18 Makishi, Naha, Okinawa Prefecture 900-0013, Japan
7. Shisa Good Luck Charm
If you’ve ever been to Okinawa, you may notice pairs of statues that resemble a cross between a lion and a dog. They are found in a variety of places, including but not limited to gates, roofs, and entranceways. These are called shisa, creatures who are said to serve as guardians against evil spirits. Carry a ward against bad luck by buying a shisa good luck charm. These come in a variety of designs, colours, and sizes, so you can bring home one with you according to your personal preferences. You can buy a charm from any souvenir store, including those in Makishi Public Market.
Makishi Public Market
Address: 2-10-1 Matsuo, Naha 900-0014, Okinawa Prefecture
8. White Tiger
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Alcohol drinkers may want to try out White Tiger, a traditional Okinawan liquor made from rice or millet that has been fermented for a long period to achieve its smooth and sweet taste. If you’re looking for a souvenir to bring home but did not have enough time to shop around, you’re in luck, because White Tiger is sold right at Naha Airport.
Address: Naha Airport Departure Lobby, 150 Kagamizu, Naha, Okinawa Prefecture 901-0142, Japan
9. Aguni Sea Salt
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Admittedly, it may seem strange at first to know that salt is one of the top souvenir choices in Okinawa. However, locals themselves attest that it is worth it. Aguni Sea Salt not only has a unique sweet-salty taste, but it also comes packed with different minerals. There are two variants of Aguni sea salt: wood-fired and sun-dried. It is made at the Okinawa Sea Salt Research Institute.
Website: Visit Okinawa
Yachimun refers to the pottery specifically made in Okinawa. Identifiable because of its warm colours, yachimun include but are not limited to cups, saucers, plates, and vases. If you want to buy this type of pottery, head on over to the similarly named Yachimun Street to check out samples laid out on display. If you’re lucky, you may even get to see craftsmen currently at work.
Address: Naha, Okinawa Prefecture
For many tourists, Okinawa is a favourite destination because its relaxed atmosphere provides a change of pace from the other busier prefectures. It is also a great choice for those who want to shop for unique mementoes. The island’s culture and traditions are reflected in these souvenirs and they make for a great keepsake. When visiting the prefecture, do make sure to spend time browsing the shops and buy the perfect omiyage for yourself or a loved one.
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