Chinsukou: ちんすこう

ちんすこう chinsukou (also romanized as chinsuko) are one of the “quintessential” souvenirs (omiyage お土産) from Okinawa.

They are small cookies (biscuits), made mostly of lard, flour, and sugar. NOT recommended for vegetarians or Muslims, since it is usually pork lard. Some day you may get lucky and find some that are plant-based and do not use pork, but I can honestly say I do not remember seeing very many.

You can find various flavors such as brown sugar, salt, milk, sweet potato, chocolate chip, and even sakuna. Fashion Candy even sells some that are dipped in chocolate coating.

Basically every souvenir shop, grocery store, and airport shops will sell these; even some of the farmers markets will sell them. Some of the shops have areas where you can watch them being made. There are even places where you can make your own chinsukou!


As a final note, I am gonna put in a little weird “warning.” On Kokusai-dori, and well, even the airport, you will see some boxes of chinsukuo that have cartoon babies with the ding-dong hanging out. Why…? Well, that is because of the word “chin.” Chinchin or chinko are ways to say “penis” in Japanese, and shortened “chin” can hold a similar meaning (depending on how it is used, though my knowledge of inappropriate slang in Japanese is not extensive). I will be honest– I have bought these and sent them to a friend who could appreciate the humor. The brand is 子宝ちんこすこう “Kodakara Chinko-sukou,” so a play on words of chinsukou. The cookies themselves are a bit specially shaped as well. Just don’t be too shocked to see this this boxed version of the cookie out and about.

Here is a picture of them that I censored (lol):


Rusk: ラスク

Rusk ラスク is a popular sweet snack and omiyage in Japan. It is a sweet twice-baked baguette. I don’t think it is popular or well-known in the US, but for some reason it is really popular here. I see them everywhere, souvenir shops, bakeries, and even the conbini.

It is not anything particularly special, and I have had many types from many places within Japan. They all taste sort of similar– like a very dry, crunchy sweetened baguette slice. It tastes okay, but I don’t really understand the popularity. Most famous is probably the “Gouter de Roi” brand. Recently one of my sensei brought in a “colorful rusk,” which actually has a fruity taste that I kind of like, and the look is rather festive (there were also purple, green, and yellow colors).


Okinawa Omiyage: お土産

Omiyage お土産 are souvenirs. I posted about omiyage in general, but what should you bring back from Okinawa or send to friends back home? These are some of the things I have sent to friends or taken with me to give to the host when we stay at an AirBnB. Here are a few of the top omiyage that are distinctly Okinawan… (don’t get me wrong, the weird KitKat flavors are interesting, but not really unique to Okinawa).


chinsukou ちんすこう: small cookies/biscuits, made mostly of lard, flour, and sugar. Not recommended for vegetarians or Muslims, since it is usually pork lard. You can find various flavors such as brown sugar, salt, milk, sweet potato, and even sakuna.


Okinawa brown sugar 黒糖 (pronounced kokutou): cubes/chunks of brown sugar are sold in bags (and sometimes as candies). Also many other omiyage items will be flavored with Okinawa brown sugar.

shikuwasa (fruit, juice, etc) シークワーサー or シークヮーサー: small limey citrus fruit. You can buy the juice concentrate, or snacks/candies made using the flavor.

beniimo tarts 紅いもタルト: these are super popular omiyage. It is a small tart with the Okinawan purple sweet potato flavor. They are very pretty. They even make some for dogs now!



Okinawa soba 沖縄そば: packages of Okinawa soba.


awamori 泡盛: the local liquor. You can buy small or regular size bottles.


spam スパム: while not especially Okinawa exclusive, it is extremely popular here in Okinawa, and not many people on the mainland of Japan eat this. There are many types (similar to Hawaii, really), and some may be exclusive to Okinawa.

Non-food omiyage:

Shisa シーサー: these come in pairs, and are replicated like the larger ones you see all over Okinawa on buildings, houses, etc. These range in very cheap, to very expensive. You can buy them about anywhere, but for nicer ones check out the pottery districts in Tsuboya or Nanjo.


bingata 紅型: beautiful Ryukyuan technique for dying fabric. You can buy all sorts of items made from this fabric: coin pouches, purses, scarves, shirts, kimono, hair-ties, or even framed pieces of the fabric.


Ryukyu lacquerware: Ryukyu lacquerware has a unique style compared to other Asian countries.


ujizome うーじ染め: a technique for weaving and dyeing fabric using sugarcane leaves (uji うーじ in Okinawa language, 染め zome is dying). Items are a beautiful green color.

umeshi うめーし: Okinawan chopsticks (hashi 箸). They may look plain at first, but have an interesting history.


Omiyage: お土産

Omiyage: souvenirs. Typically, this means food-related “souvenirs” of a recent journey, away from the family, coworkers, social club… seriously though, for every trip I take away from Okinawa, I have to budget quite a bit of yen for omiyage. That being said, when others return, I get to try a variety of little nibbles from all over. Yeah, omiyage is serious business. Do not return from a trip without some.

Especially after holidays, these show up in abundance. Social custom dictates that you eat whatever it is that your colleagues, friends, family, or whoever bought. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. Below are only some of the types of omiyage I have received– there are many kinds out there.

Sakura pie cookie. Shaped like a cherry blossom petal, flaky biscuit sprinkled with sakura sugar. WIN!


Konbu (seaweed) candy from Hokkaido. Um, yeah. Not bad per se… but LOSE. Sometimes I wonder if my colleagues are just playing pranks on me (“hmm, what can we get the gaijin to eat next??”).

Matcha and chocolate mini cakes. OISHII~~~! WIN!

Almond chocolate sandwich cookie and matcha/azuki bean biscuit. WIN.


White bean paste and matcha bean paste cakes. WIN.


Sable cookie shaped like Dove… meh. Not a win, but not a lose.


Famous Amaou Strawberry roll. WIN!


Hokkaido rare cheese: win.


Awa cookie: not a win, not a loss. It is pretty though.


Buttery crispy sandwich cookie. Win.


Not pictured: Ebi (shrimp) “cracker” and Mentaiko (fish roe) “cracker” (Japanese: senbei せんべい). I get more of these type of senbei than I care for; I am not really a fan of these fishy crackers, but they are cheap so I think I lot of people buy these to bring back.

Obviously there are many, many more not shown… I only recently started snapping a picture so I could remember some of my favorites (and least favorites). All of these were picked out by Japanese and Okinawan friends/colleagues.

Oh, and if you every need to bring back omiyage from Tokyo, I suggest picking up the famous “Tokyo Banana” (sold in the airport!). Honestly, I think they are gross, but Japanese people love them! I cannot explain it. Out of all the omiyage I have brought back to my lab colleagues, those are gone in seconds. Chocolates of almost any variety are almost universally disliked or at best vaguely tolerated (okay, I also work with ALL males, I am sure this is different if you have females). Otherwise, omiyage selection is still a bit of a mystery to me, no matter how often I buy it.

If you want to see what sort of omiyage to pick up while in Okinawa, visit this next post: Okinawa Omiyage: お土産.