| Centrip Editorial Board

Shirakawa-go Standard Gifts: Centrip Japan's Complete Guide to Shirakawa-go

Like local gourmet, there are simple traditional sweets and miscellaneous goods. "Saru-Bobo" dolls in the figure of baby monkey are one of Hida’s traditional dolls. They are popular gifts among Japanese people.

Silk Products and Silk Handballs
Since growing silkworms was once Shirakawa-go’s major industry, you can find many silk-related gifts. In addition to silk miscellaneous goods and scarves, silk soap is getting popular. People here started to grow silkworms again, and they invented soap using silk. There are also other silk-based handicrafts such as "Kinu (silk) Temari (handball)". Those souvenirs are unique to Shirakawa-go, due to the local silkworm industry.
Doburoku Sweet Bean Paste Jelly
Doburoku is an original Japanese sake, fermented and white in color. During autumn in Shirakawa-go, the "Doburoku Festival" is held. This festival is so popular that the entire village joins. Sweet bean paste jelly including Doburoku, a major sake in Shirakawa-go is popular. Enjoy the flavor of sake and the texture of jelly. This jelly has no alcohol because of the heating, so children can eat it, too.
Japanese Basil Monaka
Monaka" is a Japanese dessert item. It's sweet bean paste wrapped in a rice cake paper. Unlike standard monaka, Shirakawa-go's "Shiso (Japanese basil) Monaka" is very unique in its shape—it is shaped like a Gassho-zukuri house! Its mild taste and its design make it one of the most popular gifts in Shirakawa-go.


Aka Kabu Zuke (Red Turnip Pickle)
Aka Kabu Zuke (red turnip pickle) is a traditional local dish made from Hida red round turnips. They are always stored to eat during the winter in snowy areas like Shirakawa-go. Preserved with salt, these pickles were important food source during their long snowy winter. They are red and taste refreshingly sweet. Some of them are made with plum vinegar. It is the genuine local flavor filled with wisdom and ingenuity of the people living in the mountains with heavy snow.
Folk Crafts
Many stores sell handicrafts in Shirakawa-go. There are many items made of wood, cloth, and Japanese paper. In addition to traditional items, some of them are elaborately made by seniors in the area. Miscellaneous goods such as Gassho-zukuri accessories are also sold.
Sarubobo" is sold in Shizukawa-go and other areas in Hida region. Sarubobo means baby monkey in the local dialect. It was once sold as a charm for easing labor and for children’s good health. Today Sarubobo is a Hida’s major character and many related items are being sold. Also, a Japanese word, "saru" means “to leave” as a verb, so people believed that sickness or misfortune will leave (saru) when you have Sarubobo as a charm.
Miso used for Hoba miso grill is unique, and the taste is different from regular Japanese miso. This miso is commercialized and sold as a souvenir. It has been used as an unchanged flavor for Hoba miso over 100 years. Compared to regular miso, it is sweet and goes perfectly with various ingredients when heated.
Owl Carving
Owl in Japanese can be translated as no hardship in life, so it is said that you will have a great life if you have anything owl. People in Shirakawa-go are accustomed to the woods as you can see from Gassho-zukuri houses, there sell wood-related souvenirs. Wooden Owls are one of the most popular souvenirs due to the beliefs related to owls. In fact, you can find owls living in the woods of Shirakawa-go making it quite fitting.

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