All About Japan

5 Must-Buy Omiyage from Osaka

| Souvenirs , Osaka

Osaka has always been a city of merchants—people were good at selling merchandise, and shoppers knew how to get the best deal at almost any shop. From Dotonbori (pictured) to Shinsaibashi, stores are plentiful, selling a large variety of products to give to your family and friends back home. Here are the five must-buy items from Osaka.

5. Osaka Okoshi

If you want to taste some traditional sweets, Osaka okoshi is the one to start with. The best-known brands are iwa-okoshi and awa-okoshi from Amidaike Daikoku, a company that started in 1805. In fact, okoshi is said to be the oldest sweet in Japan, and its simple taste explains why it’s been loved for such a long time by people of all generations. It's steamed rice mixed with malt syrup and then dried until it becomes very hard.

4. Rikuro Ojisan’s Cheesecake

Described as the cake “that’s always fresh from the oven,” Rikuro Ojisan’s cheesecake is something that you can never get your fill of. Perhaps the most surprising aspect of this cake is its price—you can get the whole cake for just ¥675, including tax! Some pastry shops offer only a slice of cake at this price, while this simple combination of cream cheese, eggs, milk, wheat and raisins makes the whole cake worth a try.

3. Billiken Souvenirs

Originally designed by American teacher and illustrator Florence Pretz in 1908, Billiken is the “God of Things as They Ought to Be”—a spirit of optimism that was introduced to Osaka in 1912 as both a deity and a mascot at Luna Park, a now-defunct amusement park. He has since become representative of Osaka, and you can buy all manner of goods that have Billiken on the packaging, including local beer, cakes, T-shirts and even towels. His statue can be found at the observation platform of Tsutenkaku Tower on the south side of Osaka, welcoming you with an impish smile and bare feet. Rubbing his feet is said to bring good fortune!

- www.billiken.jp (Japanese)

2. 551 Horai Pork Buns

This is the kind of souvenir you should eat on the spot if you're buying for yourself, but the restaurant also offers chilled buns for giving to others. 551 chains can be found in many areas of Osaka, but also inside many stations on the Hankyu train line.

These meat buns originate in China, but have become a popular snack in Japan. Inside the steamed dough is a mixture of ground pork, spices and sauces. This is a popular light meal to enjoy on the Shinkansen, especially in winter and spring.

1. Omoshiroi Koibito

You may have heard of Hokkaido’s famous Shiroi Koibito, a langue de chat cookie with white chocolate filling. If so, when you see similar packaging in Osaka, you might be confused for a moment. But a company in Osaka made this parody cookie.

The direct translation of Shiroi Koibito is “white lover,” but if you add omo, the name becomes omoshiroi, meaning “funny” or “interesting.” Omoshiroi Koibito is produced by Yoshimoto Club, a subsidiary of the entertainment behemoth Yoshimoto Kogyo. The naming and package design of the product got the company sued by Ishiya Seika, the maker of the original Shiroi Koibito, but the two companies have since come to a settlement, and Yoshimoto Kogyo agreed to change the design and limit their market to the Kansai area only.

- www.santa.ne.jp (Japanese)