When it comes to souvenirs, Osaka has a lot to offer. Lots of options can be a great thing, but it can also be very difficult to choose the right gift. Those living in Japan soon learn that buying souvenirs for friends, family, and colleagues is an essential part of the Japanese culture. When you go visit someone from another prefecture, or when you come back from vacation, you are required to bring a souvenir from that place. The better and more tasteful your gifts, the more respect you can gain from Japanese people, and the stronger the bond you can make with them. A tasteful souvenir doesn’t need to be expensive. Rather, it should be a souvenir that is unique and, if possible, limited to the area you’ve visited. So, when you go to Osaka, what do you buy? This list of the 10 best souvenirs in Osaka will hopefully make your job easier. Here are 10 interesting and unusual souvenirs from Osaka that your friends and colleagues will love.
Sounds good right? Don’t worry, it’s not what it sounds like. “Takoyaki” is one of the most famous foods in Osaka. This piece of octopus cooked in batter is perfect for either a snack or a meal, and it’s definitely on the list of foods I recommend you eat while in Osaka. Unfortunately, it’s very difficult to travel holding a pack of steaming octopus dumplings covered in sauce, so it doesn't make a very good souvenir. Fortunately, there are plenty of Takoyaki flavored snacks you can give to your friends instead. One of the most famous of these is Jagariko. It tastes like eating a long, thin, potato chip. Octopus flavored. Yum. Even if you aren’t crazy about the taste, your friends and colleagues will be happy to try this famous Osaka souvenir.
Ever wish your golf balls looked like food? Great! You can buy Takoyaki golf balls, an Osaka limited souvenir. These were designed by Yoshimoto Kogyo, one of the biggest agencies for Japanese stand-up comedy, and were created by a golf supplies company. So they are designed for and made to be used in actual play. Just don't forget to take along the toothpick-designed tee that comes included in the set! You can buy a pack of 2 balls for 1,200 yen, and 6 balls for 3,600 yen at any souvenir shop that is directly run by Yoshimoto Kogyo, as well as Tokyo Hands department stores. This unique present is perfect for your Japanese boss or father-in-law (if they like you, that is). It shows you can conform to the Japanese culture, and yet you still like to be creative.
“Osaka no Koibito” (formerly named “Omoshiroi Koibito”) is a snack made of a piece of white chocolate between two thin crispy cookies. There are other flavors you can choose from as well, such as banana and peach. This souvenir is famous in Osaka and is a good gift because, like most Japanese sweets, it isn't too sweet. You can eat a whole box of them and not feel like you’re having a sugar coma (I’m not recommending you do eat a whole box, just saying you can). The great thing about Japanese snacks is that most products come individually wrapped, so they’re very easy to hand out and share with everyone. Towards the top of the box, it says “I like you a lot” in Osaka-Ben (dialect). This is a great Osaka souvenir for friends and family. It’s also a safe one because you can’t go wrong with a present everyone likes.
Osaka Souvenirs No. 4: Sweet Soy Sauce in a Rice Dumpling
“Mitarashi Komochi” is a traditional Japanese snack at it’s best. You can find “Mochi” (rice dumplings) covered in “Mitarashi” (sweet soy sauce) relatively anywhere in Kansai (they even sell them at convenient stores). It’s an acquired taste, but even if you enjoy them, the sticky sauce often finds it’s way onto your hands, face, and clothes. It’s not always the ideal gift. However, in Osaka, they’ve found a solution for this messy problem. “Mitarashi Komochi” is made with the sweet soy sauce inside the rice dumpling, making this a great and easy-to-eat souvenir. Mitarashi Komochi are only sold in Osaka, and are a perfect souvenir for friends and colleagues.
One of the most popular tourist spots in Osaka is in Namba. The “Dotonbori” area, a shopping district along the river, is famous for landmarks such as the Glico sign and “Kanidoraku” (a giant mechanical crab overlooking the walkway). Another smaller, yet equally famous landmark is “Kuidaore Taro”: a plastic man in glasses and a clown suit hitting a drum with his mechanical hands. Here you can buy “Kuidaore Taro” Pudding, complete with replica clown hat. Even after you’ve eaten this souvenir, you still have the hat to keep and make your cat/dog wear (Japanese people actually do this for their Instagram pictures). It costs a little more than 10 dollars for a pack of 3 and is a famous Osaka souvenir, even among Japanese people. The pudding has an expiration date of half a year, making this a great gift to carry for long distances.
If you aren’t already familiar with what Pocky is, it’s a cracker stick dipped in chocolate. This snack is extremely famous and popular in Japan, and it even has it’s own calendar day (November 11th, because apparently all the 1’s are a symbol of all the Pocky you will want to eat). Many flavors and types of this snack exist, but one of the most luxurious of these is sold only in Osaka. “Baton d’or”, also called the “Pocky for Adults”, is thicker than a normal pocky and has more chocolate on it. One box contains 5 smaller bags (again, Japan loves to individually wrap everything), and each of those bags holds 4 Pocky sticks. You can choose from flavors such as vanilla, cafe au lait, and sugar butter. Japanese people love to mix the flavors and give this Osaka souvenir to friends and colleagues, and you can too!
Another soul food in Osaka is 551 Horai’s Butaman, juicy minced pork mixed with onions in a moist bread dumpling. Horai’s Butaman is so popular, they sell an average of 150,000 of them a day. That’s a lot of dumplings. Each one is handmade, adding quality to the delicious flavor. If you’re looking to buy a famous souvenir from Osaka, Horai is a great place to go. Just be prepared to stand in a long line along with all the other people buying their own souvenirs. If you do choose to stand in line, your friends will thank you later, and it’ll be worth the wait.
Chinese Steamed Dumplings are served quite regularly throughout Japan, but once again, Osaka has made a good thing even better. Instead of the flour wrapping that usually surrounds the meaty inside, Ippoutei uses a thin layer of egg. Inside is a combination of ground pork, shrimp, and onions flavored with salt, pepper, and soy sauce, which is mixed together to create a simple yet delicious taste. You can find this great Osaka souvenir in Umeda, at both Takashimaya and Hankyu Department stores. Be careful though! Only a set amount is sold every day, so if you get there too late they might all be sold out. You can buy 15 for 1000 yen, and 20 for 1300. As Japan still doesn't have that many options when it comes to wheat/gluten-free products, this is a perfect souvenir for your health-conscious friends and coworkers.
Right alongside Takoyaki and Butaman for famous Osaka food is Okonomiyaki, a dinner pancake made with cabbage and pork strips. Like Takoyaki, this isn’t the best souvenir. What IS a good souvenir is Okonomiyaki flavored senbei (rice crackers). Don’t be deceived by the somewhat questionable appearance; this yummy snack makes a great gift for your friends and family who want a taste of Osaka. The “Naniwa no Aji”, or Taste of Naniwa (Namba area) Okonomiyaki senbei is made up of 28% toppings such as pork, seaweed, and pickled ginger. It also has mayonnaise and Okonomiyaki sauce on it to complete the flavor. If you’re going to buy Okonomiyaki senbei for your Osaka souvenir, I recommend “Naniwa no Aji”.
The final Osaka souvenir is a great present for your sweets-loving friends. Japanese cheesecake tastes nothing like the western style New York Cheesecake, having more mild sweetness, and a soft spongy texture. Rikuro’s Cheesecake even has raisins in it. There are 10 stores throughout Osaka, where the cakes are handmade and baked every day. This is a great souvenir for you because it is relatively cheap (one 18 cm cake costs about 700 yen), and a great souvenir for your friends because it tastes so good. The next time you need a sweet souvenir from Osaka, make sure to stop by a Rikuro shop for one of these cheesecakes.
When it comes to buying souvenirs in Japan, buying food is the best way to go. And when it comes to buying good food, Osaka is a great place to find all sorts of delicious and unusual things. There are original foods, twists to already existing foods, and even snacks flavored like famous Osaka foods. As I mentioned above, gift giving is extremely important in Japan, and giving souvenirs among friends and coworkers is a form of bonding. If you want to make a better bond between your friends and coworkers, what better way to do it than to share delicious food (and if you’re daring enough an odd-looking golf ball) with them? Hopefully, this list of the 10 Best Osaka Souvenirs that Your Friends and Coworkers Will Love will make the task of finding the right gift an easier one, and will earn you many comments about your “good sense of taste”.