What to Buy in Tokushima in 2019: 10 Great Souvenirs from the Land of Awa Odori

  • Prominently known for its spellbinding Awa Dance Festival (Awa Odori) – the largest traditional dance festival in Japan – Tokushima Prefecture attracts tens of thousands of travelers every August. Once there, they are taken in by the unparalleled charm of this easternmost prefecture of Shikoku. Here are just some of the highlights: the powerful Naruto whirlpools, the idyllic Iya Valley, the majestic Oboke and Koboke gorges, among others.

    Tokushima is also a physically and culturally vibrant region that boasts many delectable delicacies and specialty products. So while you take in Tokushima’s magnificent natural scenery, don’t forget to get hold of these 10 souvenirs!

    1. Tokushima ramen

    Tokushima ramen grabs a hold of your heart with its succulent taste. Body and soul-warming, its rich full-flavored tonkotsu pork belly broth glides over your tongue, delighting your taste buds. What’s more, it boasts a heavenly sweet and savory flavor as it is well seasoned with dark soy sauce and topped with a fresh raw egg.

    Tokushima ramen’s taste is so awesome that many people usually eat it with a bowl of rice, reluctant to let the broth go to waste. Hence, you can’t go wrong with packets of Tokushima ramen as a souvenir, for they are ideal as a gastronomic offering for you to bond with your family and friends and introduce to them the delights of Tokushima food!

    2. Handa somen

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    Another not-to-be-missed noodle dish from Tokushima is handa somen. Hailing from Handa in Tsurugi town, handa somen noodles are characteristically thick, with a diameter of 1.7 mm. This makes them stand out from other somen noodles that typically have a diameter of less than 1.3 mm – and makes for a satisfying and filling meal!

    The production process of handa somen is rigorous, with the noodles painstakingly separated by hand and dried under temperature-controlled conditions. Thus, handa somen noodles are imbued with a smooth taste. Best if you can bring these noodles with some sudachi, a citrus fruit, as they taste deliciously divine together!

    3. Sudachi

    Have no inkling as to what sudachi is? Well, you are in luck because this specialty fruit of Tokushima will add a zesty, tangy taste to your gourmet adventures! Resembling a lemon, sudachi packs a lot of punch in your dishes via its rejuvenating aroma and spicy, sour taste.

    What’s more, it boasts more vitamin C than lemon, thus boosting your health as you savor its natural goodness. In fact, its usefulness and deliciousness as a flavoring are so well known that California farmers are getting into the action and growing sudachi in their nurseries! So why not get yourself sudachi-su (sudachi vinegar) as you can use it to season a wide range of dishes, from udon and soba to seafood and even miso soup, in a fuss-free way?

    4. Naruto Kintoki sweet potato

    Blessed with a mild climate and sandy fields replete with rich ocean minerals, Tokushima is perfect for growing the tastiest and most nutritious sweet potatoes you will ever eat!

    Introducing to you Naruto Kintoki, which grabs your attention with its healthy glowing purple skin. Boasting a light, fluffy texture and a fragrant aroma, it is called as such because of its golden flesh. Delighting your taste buds with its sweet taste, it is not only ideal as confectionery but can also be used in dishes like tempura and salad!

    5. Awa washi paper

    Tokushima also carves a name for itself as a producer of sturdy and tough washi (Japanese-style paper) known as “Awa washi.” Thanks to the fresh water supply from Kawata River and the abundance of plants suitable for washi making on Mt. Kotsu, the production of Awa washi flourished during the Edo period. Even today, well-established manufacturers carry on their time-cherished techniques and continue the legacy of Awa washi.

    Characterized by its attractive indigo blue dye, Awa washi spans a wide spectrum of products, from origami paper and coasters to wall coverings. So why not buy some Awa washi and be mesmerized by its appeal?

    6. Indigo dye

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    Next on the shopping list: indigo-dyed textiles. The fertile soil and pristine waters in Tokushima facilitate the growth of indigo trees, which in turn enables the development of aizome (indigo dyeing) techniques. This indigo dye also serves as an organic insect repellent. So be sure not to forget to buy shirts, skirts, scarves, ties, and handkerchiefs that have been attractively dyed with indigo – all the best to showcase your veritable fashion sense!

    7. Naruto wakame

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    No trip to Tokushima would be complete without a visit to the Naruto whirlpools. While you’re there enjoying these dynamic whirlpools, appreciate how the powerful swirling waters stimulate the growth of Naruto wakame, widely acknowledged as the world’s freshest seaweed due to its tender texture. This wakame is sun-dried and salted with natural sea salt so as to aid preservation. Dip it in ponzu sauce to savor its heavenly taste!

    8. Otani pottery

    Aside from the Naruto whirlpools, Naruto City is also the birthplace of Otaniyaki (Otani pottery). Recognized as a National Traditional Craft, Otani pottery is visually stunning and functionally sturdy, so you can rest assured that you will be getting back your money’s worth.

    During the Edo era, the ceramicists used to make huge urns – used to contain indigo dye – from the kilns, but these days, portable Otaniyaki cups, mugs, and bowls are available for purchase. Why not buy them and feast your eyes on attractive tableware during your meals?

    9. Awa wasanbon-toh sweets

    Plan to visit a few places during your trip and require something delectable to eat on the move? Look no further than Awa wasanbon-toh sweets. “Wasanbon-toh” means “Japanese three-tray sugar” and is a fine grain sugar made from a sugarcane plant called “Chikutou.” This sugar is then fashioned into exquisite sweets, which can be eaten on their own or enjoyed as a complement to tea or coffee. For the more adventurous foodie, you can even add these sweets to soba or sushi. Itadakimasu!

    10. Sake from Honke Matsuura

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    As Tokushima’s leading sake brewery, Honke Matsuura produces delicious sake that’s a talking point in itself. Its Ginjo Shiboritate Nama Genshu comes in an aluminum bottle, which is guaranteed to create an impression. It contains unpasteurized, undiluted sake that boasts a refreshing and zesty brew – the perfect complement to your meals! Since it’s easy to bring along aluminum bottles on your trip, why not buy one (or three)?

    Now that your curiosity has been piqued, you may be wondering where you can buy all these delightful souvenirs. Well, a great souvenir shop will be Arudeyo Tokushima, which is a stone’s throw away from JR Tokushima Station. Situated on the first floor of Awa Odori Hall, it has a multitude of the above-listed souvenirs – and then some. May you shop to your heart’s content!

    Discover Tokushima Japan Website

    Would you like to stay in Tokushima Prefecture? Check out all the hotels in the area here!