A souvenir is a story about the place where you got it. It is a precious creative expression by the people of that place. So by looking at a wide range of Hokkaido souvenirs, you can encounter the story of how Hokkaido came to...
We talked to Hajime Ishimizu, the president of Ishiya Co., Ltd., about Shiroi Koibito, the most famous souvenir made in Hokkaido and one that is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. In this article we will also discuss the beginnings of this universally known product.
Shogunate officials dispatched to Hokkaido during the Edo period documented the dexterity of Ainu woodworkers. Although confectionery is indispensable when it comes to Hokkaido souvenirs, the origins of this are said to stretch back to the Edo period and Esashi's Gokatteya yokan (red-bean-paste jelly).
In 1931, a Hokkaido souvenir fair was held at the Hokkaido Bussan-kan (product center) in Sapporo. The products exhibited at the fair were well-known confectionery, processed marine products, processed agricultural products, and woodcrafts. Even now, these are the same top-four genres in Hokkaido.
In 1960, the town of Rausu on the Shiretoko Peninsular was the stage for the movie Chi no Ha-te ni Ikiru Mono (Life at the end of the earth), which was released that year.
When asked what a typical Hokkaido souvenir would be, even now, many people would say Ainu woodcrafts. Philipp Franz Balthasar von Siebold (1796 –1866), who introduced contemporary medicine to Nagasaki and Japan, collected an enormous amount of materials related to Japanese nature, history and culture, and among these items were many specimens of Ainu woodcraft.
Museum’s souvenirs are a well-kept secret. Take a look in the museum shop of the Hokkaido Museum of Northern Peoples in Abashiri.
Introducing a food writer's favorite sweet gifts from Hokkaido that are perfect for giving
At the souvenir shops at Hokkaido’s airport, sweets are aligned in front. This arrangement is said to contribute to sales. The prices are reasonable, and the products are easy carry and pass around. Most are western style confectionaries for some reason.
There’s an uplifting feeling at the airport. Maybe that excitement is closely related to souvenir consumption behavior.
KAI's Hokkaido Souvenir Recommendations
Green wasabi is a native Japanese plant. Shizuoka and Nagano represent 90 percent of wasabi production. The plant is also grown in Hokkaido, and a person who grows some famous wasabi lives in Noboribetsu onsen (Noboribetsu hot spring).
Sapporo nanseki (soft stone) is a construction material often used in old buildings. This stone has a soft texture and gentle coloration, and can be manufactured into genuinely local souvenirs that speak of Sapporo’s history.
In Abashiri, I encountered curious wooden dolls known as “Sewa-pororo”. These charming woodcarvings of northern spirits were originally created by a folk craft shop over 50 years ago and continue to be produced as souvenirs.
Tokachi natural cheese gets attention from around the world. About 60 percent of the natural cheese made in Japan comes from Tokachi.
A trend of not just eating Ezo sika deer meat, but also using its hide is gaining popularity. We recommend an Ezo sika deerskin product as a souvenir for yourself.