Okinawa is a perpetually warm, tropical island in the waters of Japan.
It’s a popular tourist destination for both Japanese and international travelers, not only for its weather but it’s also a resort island full of highlights such as beautiful beaches, world heritage sites, and local gourmet food.
If you’re looking for souvenirs unique to Okinawa, “Chinsuko” and “Beni Imo Tart” are famous, but there are some lesser known Okinawan souvenirs which are also worth tracking down.
In amongst these souvenirs are sweets made from Okinawan brown sugar and Shikuwasa, fashionable miscellaneous goods, and other unique items available at select shops!
You can purchase most of these items at the airport or at their home stores on Okinawa’s main island.
If you are looking for a souvenir that will light up your senses, head for Minatogawa Stateside Town and grab a candle!
Located 20 minutes by car from Naha, the area was once a foreign residential area for the U.S. military and their families, but has since been transformed into a funky, retro neighbourhood hosting many stylish cafes and general stores.
As for the candle, you’ll need to visit the store called Proots, a local goods store filled with household knick-knacks, crafts and arts, with an equally artistic red and white exterior.
One of the most popular items at Proots is a very cute store-designed candle, inspired so much by ice cream that it looks just like a real ice cream, and even comes complete with its own sweet scent!
"SHEKWASHA BUTTER" can be purchased at a select shop in the same Minatogawa area as the above-mentioned Proots candle.
Although it doesn’t come cheaply, at around 1500 yen per jar, it does come strongly recommended as it’s a unique item from the local brand “nun”, made using a locally grown Okinawa lime-like citrus called Shikuwasa.
The combination of the sourness of the Shikuwasa and the mellowness of butter is outstanding, and it goes perfectly with wheat-germ toast.
Distributor: PORTRIVER MARKE
Brown sugar Canelé（Hokiboshi）
Also in the Minatogawa area, Hokiboshi is a specialty store that sells bite-size sized French pastries called canelé, which are made using Okinawan brown sugar, local milk and eggs. There are 8 types to choose from, including Dragon Fruit & Shikuwasa (Okinawan lime) and Awamori (distilled liquor made in Japan's Ryukyu Islands), and you can purchase 4 canelé for around 600 yen.
Canelé only have a shelf-life of 24 hours or so, so they’re not recommend as gifts to take back home overseas, but do buy some for yourself to eat whilst in Okinawa or grab a few before heading back to the Japanese mainland to eat the next day.
Houkiboshi Minatogawa Main Store
Naha Airport Store
Brown sugar Canelé
Coaster with Aka Gawara (Arakaki Kawara Factory)
A coaster made from red roof tiles, a traditional Okinawan roofing material, was created in Okinawa to combat the intense condensation from drinking cups due to the steamy weather conditions.
The material’s practicality as a coaster is outstanding as it has excellent water absorption properties.
Each coaster costs around 800 yen and you can choose from 6 different colors: peach, red, black, green, blue and white.
Distributor: Chadokoro makabechina (茶処 真壁ちなー)
Coaster with Aka Gawara
A problem in Okinawa is that the number of coral in the surrounding oceans is decreasing annually, and the “35coffee” project was born to help reverse this situation.
“35coffee” is made by roasting weathered coral (dead coral) and is sold from 150 yen per bag, with 3.5% of sales devoted to coral regeneration activities.
It’s sold at many shops in the prefecture, so why not choose it as an item not only unique to Okinawa, but also something that can help preserve Okinawa’s natural wonders into the future?
ShimaTofu Vege Taco Rice (Ukishima Garden)
The recommended souvenir at the vegan cafe restaurant “Ukishima Garden” (on Kokusai Street) is the take-away retort package version of “Shima Tofu Vege Taco Rice” (also available to order in-store).
Shima Tofu is made to replicate ground meat, and uses pesticide-free organic vegetables, and no meat, fish, or chemical seasonings.
It sells from around 700 yen per bag.
Distributor: Ukishima Garden
ShimaTofu Vege Taco Rice
Miso baked sweets, garlic miso（Kiku Miso Kakojo Yumekobo）
Kiku Miso Kakojo Yumekobo is a shop in an idyllic country town where you can find colorful cookies and cakes. At this shop, which was originally a miso shop, chiffon cakes, garlic miso (made with handmade miso), and baked goods are very popular.
The bottles and packaging of the store’s products is also fashionable, and the gentle taste of miso is a recommended souvenir.
Distributor: Kiku Miso Kakojo Yumekobo (菊みそ加工所 夢工房)
Miso Baked Sweets
Okinawa Art Miscellaneous Goods (RENEMIA)
“RENEMIA” is a cafe and gallery shop run by a designer and illustrator couple from Okinawa. In this shop, you can find unique souvenirs that can’t be found elsewhere, and many arts and crafts such as glass pieces made of recycled glass and brass hair items.
It’s definitely a must visit place art-loving souvenir hunters.
Okinawa Art Miscellaneous Goods