Japan’s sweets souvenir takes on a political stance

8 years ago by in Travel Tagged:

Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda referred to himself as a worm-like fish in one of his statements saying, “A loach has to be a loach and get down in the mud."

A week later, Dojo Karinto or Loach Karinto treats – deep-fried, sugar-coated strips of flour made to look like the worm-like fish, were sold out at the Diet souvenir shop and Tokyo station.

The sweets souvenir is just among the many parody goods in Japanese made by souvenir companies which have taken a political stance, particularly leaning towards the country’s prime ministers.

Mitsuo Takahashi, president of Kitamura, said the change in leadership also changed the souvenir world in Japan. Takahasi shared that with every change in the country’s prime minister his company has to think of products and gags to go with the new leader.

For then Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, the souvenir company made "You and I" manju cakes representing the premier’s call for "yuai" ("fraternity") with Japan’s neighbors. With previous Prime Minister Naoto Kan, Takahashi and his staff made "Kan ippatsu kohi manju" to describe the leader’s love for canned coffee.

In relation to the political situation calling for Kan’s resignation the company made rice crackers called "Yameru nante ittemasenbei," or "I never said I was going to quit."

Meanwhile, the loach speech of Prime Minister Noda seemed to have worked well with the souvenir distributor given the sell-out popularity of the Dojo Karinto.

Takahashi shared that a souvenir sweet has to be catchy, cheap and delicious and that “speed is what matters most. If you can’t be timely, you can’t last in business."

Photo by: Japan Prime Ministers Office