File:Meibutsu Kamado.jpg

Meibutsu (名物) is a Japanese term for famous products associated with particular regions. Meibutsu are usually items of Japanese regional cuisine, although the category includes local handicrafts. Meibutsu typically have a traditional character, although contemporary products may qualify as meibutsu if they are distinctive and popular. They are often purchased as omiyage (souvenirs) to be given as gifts.

Meibutsu listed by region

Script error

Cultural aspects

Several prints in various versions of the ukiyoe series The Fifty-Three Stations of the Tōkaidō depict meibutsu. These include Arimatsu shibori, a stenciled fabric sold at Narumi (station 41) and Kanpyō (sliced gourd), a product of Minakuchi (station 51), as well as a famous teahouse at Mariko (station 21) and a famous tateba (rest stop) selling a type of rice-cake called ubagamochi at Kusatsu (station 51).

According to a paper by Laura Nenzi cited by Jilly Traganou in The Tokaido Road: Traveling and Representation in Edo and Meiji Japan (Routledge, 2004), meibutsu could be "classified into the following five categories: (1) simple souvenirs such as the swords of Kamakura or the shell-decorated screens of Enoshima; (2) gastronomic specialties such as the roasted rice cakes (yakimochi) of Hodogaya, and the yam gruel torojiru of Mariko; (3) supernatural souvenirs and wonder-working panaceas, such as the bitter powders of Menoke that supposedly cured a large number of illnesses; (4) bizarre things that added a touch of the 'exotic' to the aura of each location such as the fire-resistant salamanders of Hakone; and (5) the prostitutes, who made localities such as Shinagawa, Fujisawa, Akasaka, Yoshida and Goyu famous. Such commodities made people stop at otherwise impoverished and remote localities, contributing to the local economy and the exchange between people of different backgrounds." (72)

See also

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