Japan is one of the world’s top tourist destinations. It is arguably also the most innovative nation, churning out ground breaking fashion, addictive food and cutting edge electronics. This is the second part of our guide to what to buy in Japan, covering Shikoku. The first part covered Hokkaido and Honshu.
For a travel calendar, have a look at our 2023 holiday planner. For the best luggage to travel with, check out our luggage buying guide.
Use this guide to buy the best Japan souvenirs for yourself or as gifts.
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Shikoku (No capital city)
Shikoku is known for its hot springs. Some of the oldest hot springs in Japan are in Matsuyama, including the famous Dogo Onsen. However, the best things to buy in Shikoku are desserts, wooden toys, towels and one very special sake.
Kirinomori Daifuku is a delicious sweet dumpling created as a soft orb of 4 decadent layers. At the very centre is a rich serving of cream, which is covered in a layer of sweet bean paste. A generous layer of mochi and matcha follows, giving the dumpling its soft and spongy feel. At the very top is a coat of matcha powder.
When you take a bite, you are first greeted by the bitter tinge of the matcha. That quickly gives way to the sweetness of the sweet bean paste. Finally, the lovely cream enters the mix to complete a memorable medley of flavour and taste.
This is the perfect gift for anyone who likes mochi or matcha. If they like both, then it’s a slamdunk.
Sanuki Toy Museum toys
Unlike the other entries on our guide, Sanuki Toy Museum is a relative newcomer. It’s a local childcare support facility that opened in April 2022 and is largely manned by volunteers. The place has become famous because you can find over 10,000 toys from Japan and around the world here.
Not just for kids, the toys and the environment at the museum are designed to have adults connect with their playful side, too.
Sanuki Toy Museum sells a variety of wooden toys. Each piece is immaculately crafted and painted. Many have both a play and a learning element to their construction. There are puzzle pieces, too, from simple balancing toys to complex three-dimensional kumite puzzles.
Any one of these toys is an excellent choice for what to buy in Japan. They are educational for the little ones and can make intriguing conversation pieces for adults.
The 120-year-old Imabari towel company is regarded as one of the best towel brands in the world. Their products are exceedingly soft and amazingly resilient.
All Imabari towels are engineered to comply with the “five-second rule”. This unique inspection criteria gauges water absorbance and means that a towel must float for at least 5 seconds on water before sinking. An Imabari towel also retains its softness even when laundered without fabric softener.
An Imabari towel is one of the most practical gifts that you can buy in Japan.
Tea Plantation Pudding
Kochi prefecture on Shikoku island is one of the main tea-producing areas of Japan. The weather on the slopes of the tea plantation are ideal, resulting in a tea variety that is especially rich with minimal bitter streaks.
Ikegawa Tea Garden turns some of their best harvest into sweet desserts that you can have at the plantation cafe itself. This cafe overlooks the plantation and has floor-to-ceiling glass walls. It’s a magical experience— watch the low clouds skimming the tea bushes, sometimes completely engulfing them.
Both their Kabuse tea pudding made from green tea and Hojicha roasted green tea pudding are wonderful examples of how tea and dessert can come beautifully together.
Alcohol – Junmai-shu
Kinryo Sake Museum runs the Kotohira Brewery where Kinryo Junmai-shu sake is born. Jumai-shu is a premium sake which is made from only rice, water, yeast, and koji.
This brewery, refurbished in 2014 is one of the smallest in Japan— it is operated by just 1 person! It is the only place in the world that this unique sake is brewed because Kinryo maintains a strict consistency. The flavours you get from a bottle here are exactly how its creators wanted it to taste like, centuries ago.
Take advantage of the free brewery tour on weekdays to get a better understanding of this unique brew. One of the most amazing sights you will see is a gigantic sake bottle that holds 1,206 litres of sake.
If you want an exclusive and unique gift from Japan, this simple yet elegant bottle is one of the strongest contenders.
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