Translated byLester Somera
Just a Kansai guy trying to get by
JR Kanazawa Station, one of the world’s most beautiful train stations, is an excellent place to find the perfect souvenirs of your visit to this lovely area.
Kanazawa Station’s Famous Tsuzumi (Hand Drum) Gate
JR Kanazawa Station, previously chosen as one of the world’s most beautiful train stations, features two notable attractions: the wooden Tsuzumi Gate and the modern Hospitality Dome. This combination of attractions has drawn many tourists to the area.
There is also a convenient shopping mall inside the station, called Kanazawa Hyakubangai, which offers a vast assortment of Kanazawa-inscribed goods for purchase. If you have some extra time to kill before your train arrives, or you realize that you haven’t bought any souvenirs, by all means, check out Kanazawa Hyakubangai. This time, we would like to introduce five recommended souvenirs you can find at this mall.
The shop Moroeya has a long history dating back 160 years. One of their most popular snacks are the hana usagi ("flower rabbits") which come in this cute package.
The camera shutter-like shape of this paper box is tied closed similarly to a pouch or sack and once you have finished your hana usagi you can use this iris-patterned container to hold small items such as earrings or paperclips. One package has 15 pieces in it and costs 400 yen before tax.
Hana usagi are small pieces of rakugan - a dry sweet made by mixing rice flour, sugar and other ingredients - wrapped in Japanese paper. Popular for their elegance and gentle sweetness, these treats use traditional wasanbon (和三盆) sugar; this variety, from eastern Shikoku, is known for its fine grains, mild taste, and a texture that melts in your mouth. Many people who’ve tried hana usagi have come to love the way that each piece lightly dissolves on the tip of the tongue.
Wari-gōri, or cracked ice is a staple of the sweets lineup at Wagashi Murakami, established in 1911. When you open the package (160 yen plus tax), the cute confectionery contained inside will bring a smile to your face.
Each piece of ‘ice’ has been handmade by a craftsman, and the multicolored shards look like shattered jewels. Cracked ice is made of dried agar; the shell is crunchy, while the interior has a tender texture.
With a history stretching back more than 390 years, Morihachi stands out as one of Kanazawa’s premier sweets shops. Morihachi is famous for chōseiden, a kind of rakugan sugar treat. This time, however, we would like to recommend the hōdatsu (140 yen, plus tax). The chewy exterior and lightly-sweet red bean jam filling make a perfect combination.
Normally the jam filling is made from reddish-brown azuki beans, but since it was cherry blossom season when we went, there was a springtime version with cherry blossom-flavored bean jam. The faint flowery scent that wafts from this sweet is very Kanazawa-esque. Hōdatsu got its name from Mt. Hōdatsu in the former Kaga domain (now modern-day Kanazawa), which was mined for its gold back in the Edo period.
Kaga-no-hakuhō, or the white peaks of Kaga, are unique sweets made of monaka - which are wafers made of mochi - and walnuts; the walnuts are boiled down into a sweet reduction, then sandwiched between the monaka. Not just a snack to eat along with a cup of tea, these go great with a glass of wine or beer too.
The light texture of the wafers, coupled with the sweet and chewy walnuts, are a delicious combination you won’t be able to stop eating. These keep for 60 days, so they’re perfect as souvenirs. One package of six is 720 yen (plus tax).
The last item we’ll introduce today is from Fumuroya, a shop with a 150-year history: otemari, made from wheat-gluten, or fu (麩) . It looks like a totally cute sweet.
Fu is a processed foodstuff primarily made from gluten, and is often included as an ingredient in dishes such as Japanese soups, which are made with fish stock, salt and soysauce. Gluten is a protein made by kneading wheat flour and water together.
Fu is chewy, highly nutritious and low in calories; it’s indispensable to Japanese food culture as a colorful addition to any dining table. A package of otemari is 270 yen.
One note about the name: the ‘mari’ in otemari refers to the traditional Japanese toy balls called ‘mari,’ which are also used as beautiful decorations.
Kanazawa food is a treat not just for the palate, but for the eyes as well. In Kanazawa Hyakubangai, you can fully enjoy the taste of food items from Kanazawa’s well-established shops, all in one place. The shopping area has many more products than we were able to introduce in this article, so if you have time to spare at Kanazawa Station, then by all means, enjoy the shopping - but don’t forget to catch your train!
Address: Ishikawa,Kanazawa, Kinoshinbomachi 1-1
Hours: Shopping area 8:30 ~ 20:00 / Restaurants 11:00~22:00 *Some stores may have differ
Other Languages: Varies by store
Nearest Station: Inside JR Kanazawa Station (JR金沢駅)
Phone number: 076-260-3700 (for a representative)
Homepage: Kanazawa Hyakubangai (available in English, Chinese and Korean)