Okoshi, Osaka’s Traditional Confectionery

Japan’s omiyage culture goes way back. Since practically forever, Japanese people have felt the need to bring back all sorts of goodies from their journeys. Today, places like Osaka offer also sorts of snacks, ranging from takoyaki-like snacks and cookies, as well famous foods. One of Osaka’s most famous and traditional omiyage is okoshi.  Specifically iwaokoshi and awaokoshi, have been an iconic souvenirs from Osaka, and are a very popular with Japanese tourists.

 

What is Okoshi?

This snack dates back to the 8th century, when people made treats out of smashed millet and syrup. A popular story says that Sugawara no Michizane tried okoshi in Osaka while journeying to Dazaifu. He liked them so much he deiced to take them with him as souvenir. During Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s lifetime, okoshi became a popular gift as people thought it could bring good fortune because “okosu” can mean “set up” or “establish”.

the different traditional kinds of Osaka okoshi
Plum blossoms, the mark of Michizane, are often used on packages of okoshi.

In the Edo Period, people began using rice to make okoshi, since there was a national rice market in Osaka. This kind of okoshi started to gain popularity throughout Japan and remains common today.

Types of Okoshi

There are mainly two types of okoshi: awaokoshi [粟おこし] and iwaokoshi [岩おこし] in Oaska. Both of these okoshi are usually flavored with sesame seeds or ginger, but iwaokoshi is usually a little harder than awaokoshi. In general, traditional okoshi can be a bit dry, but they pair well tea many different kinds of tea.

gift box of okoshi from Amidaike Daikoku in Osaka
gift box from Amidaike Daikoku in Osaka

Tokyo also has a version okoshi they call kaminari-okoshi, available near Asakusa. These are softer than the ones in Osaka, which tend to be harder because they use rice that is crushed into much smaller pieces.

Famous Brands of Okoshi

Amidaike Daikoku

One of the most famous okoshi companies in Osaka is Amidaike Daikoku [あみだ池大黒]. Their main store is on Yotsubashi Street near Amidaike Pond. Despite the main store not being close to big shopping areas like Shinsabashi or Dotonbori, many people still come to the main store. However, there is another store in Namba Walk if you don’t have time to make the trip out to the main store. 

Main store of Amidaike Daikoku in Osaka
Amidaike Daikoku main store: Established in 1805

Daikoku’s okoshi are noticeably hard and crunchy. 

Daikuku's iwa-okoshi and awa-okoshi on a wooden table with a glass of cold tea
Daikuku’s iwaokoshi and awaokoshi

Daikoku also has modern version of okoshi, called Pon Pon Ja Pon. Pon Pon is made of flavored nuggets of sweetened puffed rice with nuts or dried fruit. There are many different flavors to pick from, such as granola, chocolate, and green tea. 

pieces of sweetened puffed rice and dried fruit
Pon Pon Ja Pon, dried fruit flavor.

If you don’t feel like going all the way to the main store, you can get Pon Pon in the gourmet food section of Umeda Station’s Takashimaya or the Hanshin department store in Umeda.

Website http://www.daikoku.ne.jp/
Address 1-13-13 Umeda, Kita, Osaka,
Osaka Prefecture 〒 530-8224

Futatsuido Tsunose

Futatsuido Tsunose [二つ井戸津の清] opened in 1752 in Dotonbori. The main store eventually relocated to Nagai, a small bed town just south of Osaka City, but it is a little inconvenient to find.

Main store of Futatsuido Tsunose, a traditional okoshi store in Osaka
Main sotre

Instead, if you want to try Tsunose’s okoshi, you can find it in many supermarkets throughout Osaka Pref.

cellophane package of okoshi from Futatsuido Tsunose
Futatsuido Tsunose okoshi

In particular, they have an awaokoshi with roasted peanuts that I am personally very fond of.

awaokoshi and iwaokoshi from Futatsuido Tsunose on a pink plate
Awaokoshi (top) and Iwaokoshi (bottom)

Their shoga-okoshi has an especially nice snap to them and a bold ginger flavor.

ginger flavored okoshi snack on a black plate from Futatsuido Tsunose
shoga-okoshi
Website http://www.tsunose.co.jp/
Address 1-5-1 Nagainishi, Sumiyoshi, Osaka City,
Osaka Prefecture 〒 558-0002

Baisendo

Established in the mid-18th century, without a doubt, Baisendo [梅仙堂] is one of Osaka’s most traditional okoshi companies. The main store is near the entrance of north entrance of Umeda Station of Midosuji Line.

Baisendo's main store in Umeda Osaka
Main store near Umeda Station
gift set of various kinds of okoshi from Baisendo in Osaka
Baisendo gift set

The grains of rice in Baisendo’s okoshi are quite big. These larger grains of rice make their okoshi a little softer than the previous two companies, but they still have a great crunch.

close up of Baisendo's iwaokoshi on a grey plate with sakura
Iwaokoshi
Website http://www.baisendo.net/
Address  2 Chome-1-3 Shibata, Kita, Osaka,
Osaka Prefecture 〒 530-0012

Coming next time,
Sakura viewing at Kimii-dera Temple in Wakayama!

The adventure continues….

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