Recently, I had the chance to spend a day working in Osaka. After finishing, I headed back to the station to catch the next Shinkansen to Tokyo. As I followed the Hanshin Expressway — a long, straight road that cuts through the heart of Osaka — I stumbled across the office of Ehime Prefecture. It’s a government office that proudly showcases the prefecture’s famous delicacies and souvenirs.

Located on the island of Shikoku, Ehime is where mountains and villages meet the sea. It is known for historical landmarks, such as Matsuyama Castle and Imabari Castle, which were both built during the Edo period. It’s also home to what is said to be Japan’s oldest bathhouse, Dogo Onsen, which was built during the Meiji period.

A Mini Ehime Located in Kansai

What initially drew my attention to the Ehime Prefecture office was the market stalls neatly lining the building’s entrance. These stalls offered an array of local Ehime delicacies, including orange baked goods and pickled vegetables. I was drawn to one of the stalls by a fragrant scent. A kind lady behind a stovetop offered me a pan-fried sweet potato yokan (a traditional Japanese sweet made from red bean paste and agar jelly). Intrigued by what other treasures Ehime held, I ventured into the shop.

As you enter, you’re immediately greeted by towering floor-to-ceiling wall displays, packed with rows upon rows of pamphlets. From guides and maps to photo competition flyers, it has it all, highlighting the region’s rich culture and exciting attractions.

In the center of the shop there is a massive display brimming with vibrantly colored Ehime snacks, juice and mochi. Everything is mikan (mandarin orange) flavored. From mikan ramen and soba noodles to mikan Pocky and jelly, it’s a citrus lover’s paradise, showcasing Ehime as a haven for orange lovers.

To the right of the center display is an area filled with a diverse range of products: from packaged foods like sliced dried citrus and seaweed, to home goods such as Ehime-crafted mugs and pottery. In the corner, there is a gachapon capsule machine containing locally-sourced Ehime pearl jewelry, while nearby, there is a display featuring an unexpectedly large assortment of towels. I then found out from a shop attendant that Imabari city produces the largest number of towels in Japan. Suddenly, everything made sense.

The shop also has a dedicated section for Ehime Prefecture’s official mascots, Mikyan and Barii-san. Mikyan, the primary mascot of Ehime, is a blend of an orange and a dog, adorned with an orange blossom flower on her tail. Barii-san represents Imabari city, famously wearing a towel and taking the form of a chicken, reflecting Imabari’s gourmet specialty of yakitori. Ehime certainly embraces its mascots wholeheartedly, selling plush toys, key chains, office supplies, apparel and more. It’s no surprise, as they are irresistibly cute.

As a fan of all things wagashi, I couldn’t resist trying Matsuyama city’s renowned Botchan Dango. It is said that these dango are traditionally served at the ancient Dogo Onsen alongside matcha green tea, with each of the three colors symbolizing a heart, harmony and beauty. Unlike normal mochi dumplings, Botchan Dango have a unique texture reminiscent of kneaded dough or thick paste.

Overall, the Ehime Prefecture Osaka office is a feast for the eyes and a place I would highly recommend visiting. This store offers a delightful glimpse into Ehime Prefecture for those who don’t have the time to visit. Alternatively, it may inspire travelers to explore the prefecture further.

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