Oshogatsu is coming.
What's that, you ask? It's the Japanese word for New Year's, and a special time for Japanese families to get together and enjoy traditional foods such as osechi.
According to the Chinese zodiac, which is also observed in Japan, 2020 will be the Year of the Mouse (or rat), so shops and food brands all over Japan are coming out with mouse-themed goods. For example, as we reported earlier, Krispy Kreme released premium cheesy mouse donuts.
But donuts probably won't fit the bill if you're looking for a gift to bring home from your New Years' experience in Japan.
That's why you may want to stop by the Matsuzakaya department store in Ueno during your stay and pick up one of these cute mouse-themed etogashi 干支菓子 (Zodiac sign sweets) and seasonal crackers:
'Eto Yōkan: Ne' by Ryoguchiya-Korekiyo
Yōkan 羊羹 is a traditional Japanese sweet made from sweetened beans. This attractively layered sweet by Ryoguchiya-Korekiyo features a mouse mother and child fashioned with a combination of neri-yokan 煉羊羹 and jonankan 上南羹 bean pastes. It comes in a hanzao 半棹 250 gram size and costs 918 yen.
Eto package yokan by Toraya
As we've reported before, Toraya is one of Japan's most famous traditional sweets brands, so you can be sure their yokan is good quality. They're selling a box of 12 yokan servings in mouse-themed packaging for 3,240 yen.
Eto Soft Tart by Ginza West
Sweets brand Ginza West has printed a cute mouse design on their famous soft tart sweets in a limited-edition set. A box of five costs 1,404 yen.
'Yukari Eto no hako: Ne' by Bankaku Sohonpo
Bankaku Sohonpo is famous for their ebisenbei shrimp rice crackers, and they come in this adorable mouse-design package. A box of 16 costs 1,382 yen.
Nengajo ebisenbei by Keishindo
Nengajo are New Year's cards, but you can think of these ebisenbei as the equivalent in crackers. Each one is printed with a traditional Japanese New Year's symbol. As you can see at bottom left, they even include a mouse for 2020. A box of 11 costs 1,080 yen.
R.L Onenga Assortment by R.L
Waffle and cake brand R.L has a festive New Year's box set of assorted waffles in crane & turtle and Mount Fuji-designed boxes for 1,404 yen.
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