Taste Test – 5 Best Kagoshima Snack Foods

Thanks in part to a rich tradition of gift giving, every prefecture in Japan has a wide range of unique food souvenirs available. A lot of the time, these are tied to some sort of prefectural food specialty but sometimes, they're just around because they're delicious. Below are five snack souvenirs available in Kagoshima prefecture that are well worth picking up if you're visiting.

Festivalo Taihaku Sweet Potato Cakes

Sweet potatoes are so synonymous with Kagoshima prefecture that the Japanese word for sweet potato is satsumaimo (Satsuma Potato) after Kagoshima's historical name. As such, sweet potato is the starring flavour in a lot of snacks from the prefecture. These Festivalo Baked Sweets may be a little more difficult to find than the other snacks listed here but are well worth it. These small cakes are very tasty with an interestingly dense texture and a hint of sweet potato flavour. Though not overly sweet, they have a pleasant cake-like aftertaste. These do have a fairly short shelf life of about two weeks so be sure to keep this in mind if you're buying for someone else.

Platinum Sweet Tart - Murasakiimo Tart

More sweet potato snacks here, this time using purple sweet potato. These have a very crumbly pastry base and a purple filling. Sweet potato probably isn't something you'd associate with a tart but it works well here and surprisingly, this was my favourite of the snacks I sampled. These are very popular and also come in a regular sweet potato variety.

Yamafuku Seika Karukan

Karukan is a type of confection originating in Kagoshima prefecture. It's similar in appearance to mochi but since it's made with steamed rice flour and sweet potato, it's stickier and rougher in texture. This particular box is a limited edition depicting cartoon versions of some very famous historical figures from Kagoshima such as Saigo Takamori so the packaging may be different in the future. It contains 6 karukan of various prefectural flavours - chiran tea, purple sweet potato and regular sweet potato.  The flavours are subtle but sweet and go well with tea. These are a great example of traditional Kagoshima sweets and ideal as a gift. Like the Festivalo Taihaku, these also have a relatively short shelf life.

Shirokuma Family's Crunchy Chocolate

Shirokuma is a very famous shaved ice dessert from Kagoshima but since shaved ice isn't particularly easy to travel with, there are a number of snacks trying to capture the flavour of it without the ice part. These crunchy treats are some of the most popular. These are made of puffed rice coated with a very strongly sweetened white chocolate and dried fruits. These were pretty unusual and were a bit overly sweet at first but soon became very addictive.

Kurobuta no Oyatsu - Chocolate Cookies

These were my least favourite of the snacks I tried but that's not to say they were bad, just a little underwhelming after everything else. Named after one of Kagoshima's most famous food exports - Kurobuta black pork, these chocolate cookies are exactly what they say on the box: chocolate cookies. Crunchy and a little dry, these have a small hint of chocolate in the middle. A little plain on their own, they actually go really well with coffee or tea so are a great little snack for guests.

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