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From Japan's Spiritual Heartland To You! Order Wakayama Treats Online

From Japan's Spiritual Heartland To You! Order Wakayama Treats Online

Translated by Sandy Lau

Written by Miho Moriya

Wakayama 2020.07.07 Bookmark

In this article, we introduce local specialties from Wakayama Prefecture that are available to shop for online. From mouth-watering mikan juice to much-loved manju buns, read on to learn more about tasty offerings hailing from Japan's spiritual heartland.

Feed Your Desire for Travel With Specialty Products from Wakayama

Mount Koya

Picture from Relax At Guesthouse RICO In Wakayama – Experience The Warmth Of Rural Japan

One of the pleasures of traveling is indulging in regional cuisine. In fact, many visitors choose travel destinations based on their desire to eat tasty foods. One tip for selecting a potential place to visit is by first ordering local specialties from that region.

In this article, we feature delectable treats from Wakayama Prefecture. Known as the spiritual heartland of Japan, Wakayama has famous spots like Mt. Koya and Kumano Kodo with centuries of history. The region is also rich with delicacies, including Kumano wagyu beef, fresh seafood, fruit, and sweets.

This article showcases products from two companies that ship delicious food to their customers! Sowakaju Orchards is an innovator of juicy mikans (mandarin oranges), and Sohonke Surugaya is a Japanese confectionery in Wakayama known for their manju (steamed buns) that have been adored for centuries.

The featured products in this article are available on the online catalog service Miyagetto (Japanese). You can also use Miyagetto to give gifts for friends and family (or yourself!), so read below to see what products interest you.

Table of Contents

1. Sowakaju Orchards: Juice and Jellies Bursting With Mikan Flavor!

Ajikoi Shibori

Picture courtesy of Sowakaju Orchards

"It's like drinking juice straight out of a mikan!"

Many people who drink this fresh, rich juice are surprised by its full flavor and delicious texture. Officially named Ajikoi Shibori, the juice from Sowakaju Orchards is additive-free, freshly squeezed beverage made from 100% Arida mandarin oranges. This citrus variety is one of the most well-known in Wakayama, which boasts the most significant quantity of mikan production in Japan.

Sowakaju Orchards

Picture courtesy of Sowakaju Orchards

Sowakaju Orchards, the company behind Ajikoi Shibori, is where Arida mikans are produced, processed, and sold. The farmers here utilize their years of expertise with the latest agricultural technology to grow juicy fruit.

Ajikoi Shibori is made only with the sweetest and richest Arida mikans that have a sugar content above 12 degrees Brix.

A Beverage That Tastes Like You’re Eating Fruit

Ajikoi Shibori

Picture courtesy of Sowakaju Orchards

What exactly sparked the production of Arida mikan juice? According to President Akitake, "The beverage was developed during a year when farmers found themselves in a sticky situation."

"That year, our mikans were well-ripened and bursting with sweetness. However, there were issues with the mikan's peel, and the harvest season was too short to ship them anywhere. We wanted people to sample the fruit since they were so delicious. That was on our minds when we came up with the juicing process."

The juicing process is done in a distinct way at Sowakaju Orchards that allows them to replicate the mikan’s flavor in liquid form.

Sowakaju Orchards

Picture courtesy of Sowakaju Orchards

"Typically, juice is made by squeezing fruit with its peel intact. Here, we first peel the mikan, then squeeze. None of the oil from the peel enters the juice, resulting in a pure mikan flavor."

Since the fruit's flesh is also mashed in the liquid, the beverage is concentrated to a thickened juice. It feels as if you're eating the fruit itself while drinking the mikan juice.

Additionally, mikan peels are reused and sold as herbal medicine. Mr. Akitake explained, “We also view the peels to be a natural resource,” conveying how the company uses whole mikans without waste.

The Ultimate Mikan Flavor by Mikan Farmers

Sowakaju Orchards

Picture courtesy of Sowakaju Orchards

The specialty products sold at the orchard are not limited to beverages. Try the mikan jelly if you want to savor the flavor of Arida mikans further. Only natural ingredients are used, such as 91% mikan fruit juice, agar-agar, and konjac powder.

This jelly, however, took a long time to develop.

"If we made this dessert using a normal production, it wouldn't taste different from other mikan jellies. Because we are mikan farmers, we wanted to prioritize the product's flavor. This is what we told our business partners before conducting extensive research."

While the jelly retains the consistency of a mikan, it has a velvety texture. According to Mr. Akitake, "[This dessert] was very well-received by our customers."

Sowakaju Orchards Official Website: https://www.sowakajuen.co.jp (Japanese)

2. Sohonke Surugaya: 500 Years of Delicious Manju

Surugaya

Picture courtesy of Sohonke Surugaya Co., Ltd.

“The amazing taste of wagashi—traditional Japanese confections—results from an artisan’s ability to harmonize flavor combinations.” These are the words spoken by Mr. Kawai of Sohonke Surugaya, a long-standing Japanese confectionery store with over 550 years of history.

Honnoji Manju

Picture courtesy of Sohonke Surugaya Co., Ltd.

One such product created by Sohonke Surugaya artisans over 400 years ago is the Honnoji Manju. This steamed bun consists of a dough made with glutinous rice, malted rice, and wheat flour. The dough is wrapped around red bean paste, then steamed until soft and plump. It remains a bestselling product.

One day, the store listened to a request from a customer for a bun with a longer shelf life. The Honnoji Manju has a short shelf life of just two days. If you order it as a gift, the sweets will arrive after its expiration date.

Kin-no-Honnoji Manju: Perfect for Sending as Souvenirs

Kin-no-Honnoji Manju

Picture courtesy of Sohonke Surugaya Co., Ltd.

The confectionery shop created Kin-no-Honnoji Manju to answer the customer's request. This steamed bun has a 14-day shelf life from its production date and can maintain its delicious flavor even when ordered online.

To keep the essence of the Honnoji Manju, the emphasis was placed on recreating a springy dough. The store collaborated with a flour mill company to develop their new product to produce a texture similar to their iconic treat.

Kin-no-Honnoji Manju

Picture courtesy of Sohonke Surugaya Co., Ltd.

The red bean paste contains aromatic sake lees from Heiwa Shuzo (Japanese): a Wakayama sake brewery. This creates an irresistible sake aroma that arises slightly into the air when eaten. While the product is aromatic, it doesn't contain any alcohol and is safe for anyone to consume.

“Based on our customer's requests, we carefully selected ingredients to create the best flavor combination for this pastry. After listening to feedback from our artisans, this product demonstrates their expertise in harmonizing ingredients.”

Honnoji Manju

Picture courtesy of Sohonke Surugaya Co., Ltd.

Both manju products are branded with the "hon" kanji character. This marker conveys the store's desire to continue striving for delicious flavors in their Japanese confections.

"We've been in the confection business that our ancestors created 400 years ago. Today, we continue striving for delectable flavors that will also become the pillars of Surugaya 400 years from now."

Sohonke Surugaya Official Website: http://www.souhonke-surugaya.co.jp (Japanese)

3. Order and Send Regional Specialties With Miyagetto!

Miyagetto Wakayama

Picture courtesy of Gift Pad Co., Ltd.

The products featured in this article can be purchased on Miyagetto: an online catalog of local specialty products that can be sent to friends, family, or even yourself. You don't need to register the recipient's address as long as you are connected via email or social networks, such as LINE.

Make your way to Miyagetto de Premier Wakayama (Japanese) for more Wakayama goodies. The online catalog is available at different price points, from 2,000 yen, 3,000 yen, 4,000 yen, to 5,000 yen (all before tax and shipping fees).

There's nothing but amazing gifts featured in the catalog recommended by locals in Wakayama Prefecture! Enjoy a virtual trip to Wakayama while flipping through the eye-catching offerings.

Miyagetto de Premier Wakayama Official Website: https://giftpad.jp/lp/miyaget_wkym (Japanese)

Take a Food-Centric Trip From Home

Miyagetto

Photo by Pixta

In addition to Wakayama, Miyagetto has expanded to other prefectures, including Nagano, Hokkaido, and Hyogo. Check out the featured products, pick your next travel destination, and have fun getting a taste of traveling in the comfort of your own home.

Since the coronavirus struck, it has been challenging to go shopping for souvenirs in-person. However, you can buy online from your favorite region or businesses you wish to support during these challenging times. While looking forward to the day it's safe to travel again, why not order and take a virtual trip through food with this e-catalog?

Main image courtesy of Sowakaju Orchards

The information presented in this article is based on the time it was written. Note that there may be changes in the merchandise, services, and prices that have occurred after this article was published. Please contact the facility or facilities in this article directly before visiting.

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