When we travel, we want to buy souvenirs to spread cheer and joy to those around us in our home country. There are so many choices to choose from that we sometimes find it difficult to make a choice. For a Muslim traveller, and for those who want to buy a souvenir for a Muslim friend, colleague, or a family member, the situation is not so favourable in Japan. As Muslims are not allowed to consume alcoholic and non-halal food and beverage, choices are limited. Being in a foreign country like Japan also means not knowing where to purchase halal products.
To ease your souvenir woes, in this article I will recommend some halal souvenirs and products that are worthy to buy. Be sure to take note of these products, it will be useful!
1. Japanese Matcha 抹茶
The Japanese culture of drinking tea probably one of the best ways to start introducing Japan to your family, friends, or colleagues. Instead of getting the conventional green tea bags that are sold in stores, the tea I am referring here is matcha – tea leaves ground into powdered form. Made from tencha and grown not directly under sunlight, no alcoholic products or non-halal ingredients are used in the production of matcha.
If you want to be assured of the halal standard, do look out for halal certification from Japan Muslim Association or the halal logo. But if you just need to check what ingredients are used, I suggest you to snap a photo using the Google Translate app to translate the Japanese words or ask for help from a shop assistant.
2. Higashi 干菓子
In the Japanese Tea Ceremony, fresh bitter matcha tea is consumed alongside higashi, a type of dry wagashi (Japanese sweets). Higashi is basically little sweet colourful rice-flour confectionaries that are meant to be enjoyed with your powdered green tea, which is bitter. But even without holding a proper tea ceremony, higashi can also be consumed with Japanese matcha tea mixed with hot water.
Image credit: 雅心苑三島店 on Facebook
Image credit: お干菓子 ゆいちゃん on Facebook
The sweetness of higashi is just nice to complement the bitten tea, making it a great combination of taste when consumed together. However, I do not recommend you to consume higashi on its own as it is very sweet, unless you have a sweet tooth. Higashi can be bought easily at the matcha or souvenir shops.
3. Hanan Chocolate ハナンチョコレート
When you are passing by Tokyo Station, don’t forget to drop by to pick up some chocolates from KITTE Marunouchi. Hanan chocolate is sold at a place called Intermediatheque on the 3rd floor of the Kitte Maunouchi building.
Image credit: Hiroyuki Yukita on Facebook
Hanan Chocolate is quite popular even among non-Muslims, so you can even buy it for your non-Muslim friends. The chocolate here is halal certified.
Address: KITTE 2F-3F 2-7-2 Marunouchi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
Opening Hours: 11 AM – 6 PM
4. Bourbon Alfort Chocolate アルフォートチョコレート
Priced only at about 100 yen, this chocolate biscuit snack has chocolate on one side and biscuit on the other. It’s the perfect combination for any chocolate lovers. You can easily get Bourbon Alfort Chocolate at convenience stores and drugstore. Besides that, this product is confirmed as halal as the shortening used in chocolate is not from animals.
Image credit: Japan Bagsakan on Facebook
Do take note that this product is popular with tourists, so be ready to grab it off the shelf when you see it!
5. Castella カステラ(by Muso)
Since Tokyo Banana is not halal, Castella is a good substitute. A speciality of Nagasaki, Castella is a popular Japanese sponge cake made of sugar, flour, egg, and syrup. There are three flavours available: matcha, honey, and brown sugar. Matcha flavour is the most popular among the three. I recommend you to buy specifically from the brand Muso, which uses halal ingredients.
Image credit: TheHalaleats on Facebook
Castella can be purchased at the following locations:
Haneda Airport: Air Lawson (1st Floor, Entrance Plaza)
Narita Airport: ANA FESTA (4th floor, Terminal 2)
6. Yatsuhashi 八つ橋
A regional product of Kyoto, this is a simple and delicious snack. Made with sugar, cinnamon and rice flour, this product is free from non-halal ingredients. The rice flour is made into an outer layer skin, which is used to wrap the fillings – either red bean, chocolate, or other sweet fillings.
This popular version of Yatsuhashi is loved by many people.
Image credit: All About Japan on Facebook
This snack can be easily found in Kyoto, especially in souvenir shops.
7. Samurai Ramen 侍ラーメン
What is Japan without ramen? If you have tried the ramen, you will know what I mean. For a Muslim traveller, restaurants serving halal-free ramen at tourist locations are not many. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to bring a taste of Japan back home. Without any non-halal ingredients, this instant ramen pack is made to taste as authentic as possible like the original ramen.
Image credit: Samurai Ramen japan on Facebook
You can get this instant ramen at Don Quijote stores and Japanese supermarkets.
8. Momohime Skincare
Momohime is a Muslim-friendly skincare line that uses peach extracts and aroma to nurture a healthy and beautiful skin. The word Momohime literally translates to “Peach Princes”. This product is certified halal by Japan Islamic Trust (JIT), and is free from pork-derived ingredients, mineral oil, alcohol, colourant, and ethylene oxide. This product is packed free with peach goodness, giving you a fresh, aromatic moisturised face after using it.
Image credit: @momohime.halal.japan on Facebook
You can find this product in supermarkets and pharmacies across Japan. With this, you don’t have to pull your hair to find a halal skincare souvenir!