Browsing the shelves of Tokyu Hands the other day, a member of the Japan Pulse team came upon a display of weird and wonderful sweeties. Among the items on sale were various cans of bizarrely flavored sweets including: katsudon (deep fried pork cutlet) drops from Aisu and yaki udon (fried noodle) drops from Kakura. After marveling at these canned items, a story in Nikkei Trendy caught our attention: From May this year, visitors to the volcanic island of Sakurajima will be able to buy cans of volcanic ash to commemorate their visit. Once we’d read that, we had to satisfy our craving for more weird and wonderful canned goods being sold as souvenirs in Japan. Here’s our roundup of what we found:
Aroma! Osaka: These three cans each contain aromas that are designed to conjure up the atmosphere of the city. Each can is meant to contain a smell that sums up a particular area of the city. The smell of thick stage makeup in one can is supposed to conjure up an image of Dotonbori’s theatrical past. In another can, the smell of the sea is meant to make you think of kimono-wearing mama-sans from the Kitashinchi entertainment district. The aroma of Tenpouzan, Osaka’s harbor village, is billed as a “scent of memories” — that first date on a Ferris wheel. Ahhh. Surprisingly, there’s no takoyaki (fried octopus ball) scent.
Akihabara canned oden: Oden, a soup which contains thick chunks of radish, eggs and other delights, was put into cans by Chichibu Denki and went on sale on the streets of Akihabara from vending machines back in the ‘90s. The product has been hugely popular with the town’s geeks who consume the stew while waiting in line to purchase limited-edition goods. If you’d like to try Akihabara canned oden, you can buy a can on Flutterscape.
Canned pearls: These cans contain shellfish that you are supposed to prize open to extract a pearl hidden inside. The color of the “freshwater pearl” you end up with will signify luck in a particular area of your life: a pink pearl indicates you’ll be lucky in love; white guarantees good health; cream is for all-round good fortune; purple is for study and black bodes well for your finances. While this is not necessarily a souvenir, it can be bought at souvenir stores in seaside tourist destinations such as Matsushima.
Canned drops: These canned sweeties come in “traditional” flavors, yet not exactly the sorts of flavors you’d normally associate with candy. Each flavor is linked to a region. For Fukuoka, there’s Motsu Nabe, which captures the taste of the region’s famous offal hotpot. Yum! Others taste treats on offer include Kyoto Tsukemono (pickled vegetables), Mojiko Yaki Curry (fried curry) and Ooita Yuzu Kosyo (yuzu pepper). (Here’s a photo gallery of a few.) As mentioned, you can currently find these on the first floor of Tokyu Hands Shibuya, and online at JBox.
Hai! Douzo: What’s the perfect souvenir to bring back from a volcanic island? Canned volcanic ash, of course. The name of Sakurajima’s Hai! Douzo plays on the double meaning of “hai,” which can mean both “yes” and “ash.” We reckon that those buying the can of ash will probably be purchasing it more for the joke than for its contents. Hai! Douzo is scheduled to go on sale from May this year.
Seen any more funky souvenirs? Keep us posted in the comments below.