It turns out there’s a whole range of classic Kyoto goodies available on a typical store shelf!

If you’ve visited Japan—any part of Japan—you’re likely to have encountered tourist stops, especially at airports and train stations. You can identify them easily by their stacked boxes of souvenirs of local delicacies like Tokyo Banana or specially flavored KitKats. These souvenirs can cost a pretty penny, though—and when you’ve forgotten to buy any omiyage, or souvenirs, you have no choice but to fork over your cash at these tourist stops even so.

But are there any other options? Maybe so, as it turns out! One of our Japanese-language reporters, Udonko, hails from Niigata but is currently living in Kyoto. When she took a peek at the sweets section in her local supermarket she was stunned by how many classic Kyoto souvenirs were available, and at a greatly reduced price.

▼ The shelves were stocked with a bounty of traditional snacks.

Nestled among the typical candies and potato chips, for example, were some pleasantly normal-looking yatsuhashi.

▼ A matcha-flavored Kyoto delicacy made from glutinous rice!

Yatsuhashi are incredibly popular as Kyoto souvenirs, but you’d normally expect to buy them in bulk—say, for a whole crowd of colleagues, friends, or family members. These Izutsu Yatsuhashi cost just 200 yen (US$1.74), and you can also purchase packs of their Yuko brand treats for the same price.

▼ Yuko is a range of unbaked yatsuhashi with sweet paste fillings.

Both these options, from esteemed Kyoto brand Izutsu, are popular picks at souvenir stores, but this way you can purchase them in a smaller size and for a lower price. Useful!

Moving on, Udonko also found some goshiki-mame. Literally meaning “five-colored beans”, these colorful sugar-coated snacks are pleasing to the eye and the tongue. And here at the supermarket it only costs 350 yen ($3.04) to try some for yourself!

▼ Udonko also learned, from reading the back of the packet, that the five colors represent five different Kyoto towns.

How about some salty snacks? By poking around the shelves some more, Udonko came across a neat little bag of Kurama Stone Arare. Arare is the name for small toasted mochi snacks flavored with nori seaweed and soy sauce, and these ones are particularly hefty. The name comes from their appearance. They look like the decorative stones used in Kyoto gardens, particularly in the Kurama town just outside the city.

▼ 300 yen ($2.61) is a price that will make anyone happy.

Udonko’s eye was caught especially hard by this pretty-looking parcel. This product is called Tsurube no Mizu, or “water from a falling bucket.” It looks like it might contain the star-shaped konpeito candy.

But upon opening the parcel, instead we’re treated to a flurry of sugar, starch and arare pieces. Put it into a cup and add boiling water, and you can make kuzuyu, a traditional hot sweet beverage.

Apparently, there are also matcha and azuki red bean variants available. It costs just 160 yen ($1.39)!

As sometimes people purchase heartier ingredients for souvenirs, Udonko went hunting for the makings of a Kyoto meal as well. She unearthed a heap of tasty ingredients that any out-of-towners would be delighted to receive.

First, get a load of these pickles! All three of these are products from Kyoto Tsukemono Masugo, a traditional vendor that started business in 1930. On the left, in the image below, is pickled Chinese cabbage and kelp (300 yen [$2.61]), then the purple one is raw shibazuke, or Kyoto-style veggies pickled in salt alongside red shiso leaves (270 yen [$2.35]). Last up are the white, circular pickled daikon radishes priced at 600 yen ($5.21)

The pickled daikon radishes may seem pricey, but they’re typically sold at souvenir stores for 1,000 yen ($8.69) or more. You can also purchase kamaboko fishcakes made with hamo, daggertooth pike conger eel, a fish with a particular Kyoto vibe. It costs 280 yen ($2.43) and can be purchased as a single item! When Udonko researched online she could only find it sold in bulk. Another win!

▼ Lastly, let’s take a look at some tasty Kyoto bread she found:

First up is this Pain de Campagne, a French-style bread. For 333 yen ($2.89) you are given a truly colossal hunk of bread, which is sure to please any giftee beyond compare.

Kyoto allegedly consumes more bread than any other prefecture in Japan, so some bread would still make a relevant souvenir. Right? At any rate, the maker of this country loaf— Shinshindo— is a renowned breadmaker in Kyoto.

▼ How about some Kyoto-style melon bread? This one (pictured on the left in the image below) costs just 130 yen ($1.13).

With a very unusual shape and a white bean jam filling, this Kyoto-style melon bread is a unique take on the classic cookie-crusted snack bread. Moist and tasty, it’d make a great gift for any fan of bread.

All of Udonko’s purchases together stacked up to a total of 3,343 yen ($29.06). Some places will take 3,000 yen for a single delicious dessert! What’s more, those yellow stickers attached to some of the items denote a discount. As the sell-by date approaches, you could get some of these things even cheaper.

If you live in Japan, why not try scouting out your own supermarket souvenirs? We’ll be especially impressed if you can find a supermarket equivalent of these canned cakes.

Images © SoraNews24

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