One of the easiest ways to understand the culture of a country is to experience it through food – and that doesn’t always mean sitting down to a meal! The snacks of a country will both give you an insight into the lifestyle of a country, and snacks are a great way to take the taste of a country home with you. We’ve collated the best sweet and savoury snacks of Japan together in this ultimate guide to the best Japanese Snacks – many of which you can enjoy at home.
Guide to the Best Japanese Snacks
We’ve put together this guide on the best snacks from Japan with the help of fellow travellers and fellow foodies, who have, in the interests of research, bought, consumed and enjoyed the best Japanese snacks so you’ll have a great list of what to enjoy either if you’re looking for the taste of Japan at home, or when you travel there.
We’ve divided Japan’s best snack foods into the best sweet snacks from Japan and the best savoury snacks from Japan. A word of warning though, don’t approach this if you’re hungry!
The Best Way to Get Japanese Snacks at Home
Japanese Snacks are an excellent way to experience Japan both before and after you’ve travelled there. We love that these unique tastes can transport you immediately to the streets of Osaka or Tokyo. Today it is easy to order Japanese snacks to eat at home – whether you choose to buy them from your local store, or sign up to a specialist service, they’re easily available.
We recommend and work with Bokksu – a Japanese snack box company that partners with local 100-year-old family-run snack makers. These delightful Japanese snacks can be delivered to your door to ensure that you get a fresh assortment of Japanese snacks each month, so you can explore the tastes of Japan from home!
Best Japanese Savoury Snacks
There are five basic tastes sweet, sour, salty, bitter and umami – but splitting out favourite Japanese snacks into those five you be a little tough, so we’ve settled for the dividing these snacks in two ways. First of all, the best savoury Japanese snacks, and further on, the best sweet Japanese snacks. Which way do your taste buds lean?
Snack on Savoury Japanese Gyoza
A Gyoza is a small pastry snack filled with ground meat and vegetables traditionally pork, although some vegan variations are available these days. The Gyoza originates from the Chinese Jiaozi and it is said Japanese soldiers developed a taste for them when stationed in China during World War II. On returning home to Japan the soldiers wanted to recreate them, thus the Gyoza was invented. Gyoza is literally the Japanese word for Jiaozi. The main difference between Japanese Gyozas and Chinese Jiaozi being the amount of garlic in a Gyoza which is less noticeable in the Chinese variety.
Gyozas can be cooked by boiling, steaming or frying and are always served with a tasty dipping sauce made from equal parts soy sauce and rice vinegar sometimes with added chilli oil. Sometimes called dumplings or potstickers, these delicious treats can be found as an appetizer in most Japanese restaurants all around the world. They can also be bought fresh or frozen in grocery stores to cook at home and they are super easy to make at home too. Usually served in a portion of 5 or 6 Gyozas they make the perfect Japanese snack!
Thanks to Steph and Lewis from Book It Lets Go for suggesting Japanese Gyoza as a great Japanese Snack!
Gyoza is one of the great Japanese snacks you can learn to make – through in person or virtual classes – read about learning to cook Japanese classes here.
Snacks Cooked in Japan’s Natural Hot Springs
Sometimes when you travel it is not always just about the snack you eat, but how it’s prepared and where that makes it special and this one is definitely that!
How about trying a unique Japanese snack that’s been boiled in natural hot steam water? Yep, Japanese onsens are for more than relaxing spa activities – you can cook your food in them too! I saw this twice while travelling in Japan. Once, while solo trekking the Kumano Kodo trail, I spent the night in Yunomine. Yunomine Onsen has been a site of water purification rights for over 1800 years and they say the water has healing powers – perfect for a weary hiker. The locals will invite you to have boiled eggs in the water with them! It’s quite funny to enjoy this in such a serene, mountainous location.
I enjoyed this snack again when visiting Beppu, a city with over 2000 hot springs. In fact, the volume of water dispelled daily in Beppu is second only to Yellowstone, USA. I ordered some vegetables on a vending machine at the restaurant Steam Kitchen (Jigokumushikobo Kannawa), donned some very thick oven gloves, and proceeded to boil them in the natural steam water with the help of locals. I think it remains the most unique foodie experience I’ve had on my travels!
Thanks to Cassie from Cassie the Hag who recommends trying this unique Japanese snack food.
Takoyaki Japan’s Most Popular Street Snack
The story of Takoyaki or Octopus Ball began in Osaka in the 1930s. Founded by Tomakichi Endo, the store Aizuya in Osaka, served the first Takoyai that was made of beef and konjac, but decided to switch to octopus later. It was a big hit and soon spread to many other regions in Japan.
These days, no matter where you are in Japan, you can find Takoyis. Although it’s one of the most popular street foods, you can get this snack in convenience stores, supermarkets, or food courts. And there are many well-established speciality restaurants serving Takoyaki, particularly in the Kansai region.
Although traditionally made with octopus filling, you can find them with fillings of sausages, shrimp, and crab sticks. And if you are a vegetarian, there are Takoyais of avocados, green peas, and mochi(rice cakes) as well.
Usually served with slightly salty Takoyaki sauce, which goes well with beer and other alcoholic drinks. And, if you are ever in Taiwan, there is a big chance you would come across them, due to the historical influence of Japanese culture in Taiwanese cuisine.
Thanks to Deb Pati from the Visa Project, on a mission to have updated info on visas and making people visa smart for his recommendation of Takoyaki as a savoury Japanese snack.
Nagoya’s Popular Japanese Snack Ebi Senbei
One of my favourite snacks in Japan was a total surprise to me. I couldn’t imagine shrimp rice crackers to taste good at all but after my first bite into a Yukari Ebi Senbei, I was a convert.
These rice crackers use whole prawns. And they have a strong and real flavour as if you have just bitten into a particularly crunchy prawn.
Shrimp rice crackers can be mostly found in the south of Nagoya in central Japan, where they have a long history. Large amounts of shrimps and prawns are fished at Ise Bay and to make them keep longer for transport across the country the best method was the production of shrimp rice crackers.
Even nowadays there are around 300 bigger and smaller producers of shrimp rice crackers in the region, but the most popular company is Bankaku with its staple product Yukari. The Yukari rice crackers don’t come cheap at around 80 yen per cracker, and it is a popular gift for family, friends, and coworkers when visiting Nagoya. Find out more about Ebi Senbei here.
Lena of Nagoya Foodie recommends Ebi Senbei as a tasty Japanese savoury snack.
Octopus Cracker (Tako senbei) from Kamakura or Enoshima Island
Tako senbei, or octopus cracker, is a must-eat snack in Kamakura and on Enoshima Island. The stalls for this popular street food attract long queues. The wait is worth it, though. While you can also buy octopus cracker at stores in Tokyo, it’s best hot and fresh. Plus, half the fun is watching it being made!
First, several small marinated octopuses are coated in flour. They are then squashed between two hot metal plates. Next, rice flour batter is added. The mixture is compressed and cooked for a few minutes.
The result is a translucent, strangely beautiful cracker, with swirls of orange and red. The octopus almost looks fossilized! The crispy rice cracker’s sweetness contrasts deliciously with the octopuses’ salty flavour.
The crunchy snack’s popularity has inspired an international chain, Tako Senbei, so you can now get fresh-pressed seafood crackers in places like Penang and Kuala Lumpur. Oishii!
Thanks to Ingrid from Second-Half Travels for this regional Japanese snack recommendation
Try Dango, one of Japan’s favourite snacks
Have you ever looked at this emoji 🍡 while using FB, IG etc and have wondered ‘what is that’? Well, that is one of Japan’s favourite snacks – Dango. Dango consist of three (usually) white or coloured balls made of mochi-ko. Mochi is glutinous rice paste, grilled and shaped into balls; and then steamed and boiled.
In Japan, dangos are eaten throughout the year, mostly served with green tea. But during festivals, they are the most popular, along with choco-bananas. Traditionally, dangos have been offered to the Gods during some festivals, especially the Mitarashi Festival at Shimogamo Shrine, Kyoto. The Dango brought as offerings usually come in three colours: white, red and green (same colours that you find in the emoji )
Dangos come in multiple types and tastes. Although most of them are sweet, some are even salty. A few of the common variations are Anko Dango (made with red bean paste), Chadango (green-tea flavoured), Kuri Dango (chestnut paste), Goma (sesame seeds) and much more. One of the most unique ones I have ever had was the ikinari Dango (made from sweet potato) during my road trip in Kyushu.
Thanks to Mainak of Places in Pixel for contributing Dango as a great savoury Japanese snack
Jagariko Sticks – Japanese Snacks Available Everywhere
One of my favourite Japanese snack foods is Jagariko sticks. These are a kind of alternative potato chip that are shaped like French fries and packaged in a little cup. You can find them in practically every convenience and 7/11 store across the country. The name Jagariko comes from the word “Jagaimo” which means potato in Japanese.
Jagariko sticks are crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. They are sold in a ton of different flavours. Some of these are pretty similar to what you may expect to find with western potato chips – i.e. plain flavour, cheese flavour, etc. You can also find flavours that are so quintessentially Japanese and worth a try – e.g. mentaiko flavour (raw fish!) and butter potato which is sweet and may sound odd for a potato chip, but somehow it just works! There have actually been hundreds of flavours released since the chip was first introduced in 1995, and there are often new seasonal ones.
Potato chip aficionados may also like to try Jagabee sticks. These are made by the same brand as Jagariko (Calbee) but they are much crunchier! Japanese snack foods are great to pack in your bag while hiking in Kyoto, Fuji, etc, or to sample while on long shinkansen journeys!
Thanks to Melissa from High Heels and a BackPack for recommending this ubiquitous snack from Japan.
Tako Tamago – Japanese Snack from Kyoto
If you want a truly bizarre (but awesome) Japanese snack, Tako Tamago is a must during your next visit. Imagine a tiny octopus on a stick, glazed with a lovely shiny savoury syrup over it. While innocent at first, one bite will reveal a boiled egg hidden inside the octopus’ head. Tako Tamago is a truly Japanese snack which can be found Kyoto, the food capital of the country It’s because of weird yet delicious snacks like this that Japan really has one of the best street food in the world. Tako Tamago is affordable and really, quite addictive thanks to its crunchy consistency and earthy aromas.
To find Tako Tamago, head over to Kyoto’s market called Nishiki. Also nicknamed Kyoto’s kitchen, Nishiki is well known for an array of delicacies and fresh seafood.
While we searched for Tako Tamago in other regions around Japan, we never found it anywhere else but in Kyoto.”
Thanks to Cory of YouCouldTravel for recommending this regional Japanese Snack from Kyoto!
Popular Japanese Fast Food Snack – Onigiri
Our favourite Japanese snack food is onigiri – a very popular Japanese fast food which can be found in all convenience stores and in many other places. They are made by wrapping a layer of cooked rice and seaweed around a range of different fillings. They are usually shaped into a triangle and as a result, are very distinctive when you enter a convenience store or konbini.
The range of flavour options in Japanese convenience stores includes cooked tuna, tuna and mayonnaise, fish roe, salmon, chicken and many more!
A fun part of eating konbini onigiri is that they have a special wrapper which separates the seaweed from the rice. It takes a couple of attempts to learn how to unwrap the plastic off the onigiri, but once you have the trick it results is a lovely crunchy seaweed layer wrapping around the soft moist rice, a perfect match!
Thanks to Anne from Japan Addict HQ for recommending one of our favourite snacks from Japan, Onigiri
Ancient Japanese Snack Foods – Seaweed
Japanese seaweed is a sea vegetable that is rich with nutrients and has been a staple of Japanese cooking for centuries. The most well-known Japanese seaweeds are nori that is used in sushi rolls. The dried nori sheets are also sold as snacks in stores and supermarkets. Other types of seaweeds that are commonly used in Japanese cuisine are wakame, hijiki, and kombu.
Wakame is used in the Japanese miso soup and raw salads with other vegetables. It has a smooth silky texture to it and is sold in a dry form. Komu is a large type of seaweed that is used in hot pot dishes or as soup stock, and hijiki is a black skinny seaweed that is often used as an appetizer or as an ingredient in many salads. If you visit Japan, you will most likely try the Japanese seaweed several times when you order food in restaurants. However, many of these seaweeds can also be purchased in stores separately and used as snacks or ingredients in dishes.
Since many travellers stop in Tokyo during their trip to Japan, I recommend visiting at least one eatery in one of Tokyo’s popular districts such as Shibuya where you can find many trendy restaurants and cafes serving dishes with seaweeds.
Thanks to Daria of the Discovery Nut for her recommendation of one of Japan’s oldest snack foods
The Japanese Sushi Snack Inari Sushi
When you see Inari Sushi for the first time, you might not recognize it as being sushi at all, as it looks quite different from the maki sushi rolls that you’re probably used to. The sushi rice is hidden inside a triangular-shaped pocket of fried tofu, which is seasoned to give it a unique mix of sweet and salty flavours. Vegetarians and vegans travelling to Japan will be happy to know that the pocket is filled just with the flavoured sushi rice and does not contain any fish.
You might recognize the word “Inari” from the name of the famous Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto — the one with the thousands of red torii gates. Well, there is a connection. Firstly, Inari is the Shinto deity of rice and good harvests, so it’s not surprising that a pocket full of rice would be named after him. But actually, the name has more to do with foxes, who are the messengers of Inari. Fried tofu is said to be the foxes’ favourite food, and also the golden, triangular pocket kind of resembles a fox’s ear. Inari Sushi is widely available in convenience stores and also in sushi restaurants throughout Japan.
Thanks to Wendy Werneth of The Nomadic Vegan for this great vegetarian Japanese snack
The Japanese Snack Food that is a Staple – Instant Noodles
In Japan instant Noodles are more than a snack, they are a staple in convenience and cuisine nationwide, but also throughout Asia and really just all over the world. In America they are known as instant ramen, it’s Pot Noodles in the UK, and every region has its own adaptation. But the original instant noodles were invented back in 1958 by Nissin who went on to create the big brand ‘Cup Noodles’ in 1971, before world domination.
The main reason though for Cup Noodles is for convenience, food to eat on the go, a snack for all times of the day. Making them perfect for travel where every Konbini Convenience Store (7-11s, Familymart and Lawsons) have shelves dedicated to the nation’s favourite snack. For those new to instant noodles, shake the seasoning into the noodle cup, add boiling water, wait a minute or three, then tuck in using the plastic fork supplied. For eating on the go there are hot water dispensers, and for hotels, and hostels there will always be the kettle.
Thanks to Allan Wilson from It’s Sometimes Sunny in Bangor for recommending this world-famous Japanese snack food
Okonomiyaki means “what you like, grilled”. Sometimes referred to as “Japanese pizza”, it is actually a savoury cabbage pancake filled with a variety of additional ingredients such as fried noodles, pork belly, octopus or egg (whatever you like). It is topped with a special okonomiyaki sauce (somewhat similar to Worcestershire sauce), mayonnaise, fish flakes and shredded dried seaweed.
A version of a savoury pancake has existed in Japan since the Edo period, but the modern version (and current name) came into being around the Second World War. It is most commonly served in small, casual speciality restaurants that have a long hot plate permanently set along a counter or on tables. The chef may cook it in front of you, or you may even get to cook it yourself. There are two main types of Okonomiyaki– Kansai/ Osaka style and Hiroshima style. Kansai style has the ingredients all mixed together, whereas, in Hiroshima, the ingredients are layered on top of a thin pancake. You can get it throughout Japan but is especially common and popular in these two regions. While elaborate kaiseki meals get all the attention for the best Japanese food experience, Okonomiyaki is not only the ultimate Japanese comfort food and absolutely delicious, but dining in an okonomiyaki restaurant is a fun experience you mustn’t miss!
Thanks to James of Travel Collecting for recommending Okonomiyaki – one of our favourite Japanese foods
Best Japanese Sweet Snacks
Now that you’ve finished the best savoury snacks from Japan we hope you’ve saved some room for the sweeter side of life! Here are Japan’s best sweet snacks to whet your appetite with!
Japan’s Favourite Festival Snack – Choco Banana
As the name implies, a choco banana is made from chocolate and banana. It is a frozen banana which is normally coated in chocolate and sprinkled with toppings such as multi-coloured sprinkles or nuts. It can be dipped in different types of melted chocolate such as white, strawberry and other variants. It is served on sticks at food carts during summer festivals in Japan.
It is very delicious but it’s not something that you can get just anywhere. You won’t see it sold at supermarkets. Even if you have a recipe, it is hard to duplicate it at home. Hence, people love it and line up for it when they see it at a summer festival.
Milk chocolate is the standard offering. However, at some festivals, you get to try colourful and fun choco bananas as well! Sometimes they have chocolate and snacks as toppings too!
No need to worry about messy hands! There is a stick attached to it making it very easy to eat. What’s not to like about the chocolate and banana combo? It is an all-time favourite treat for many people in Japan. You will see why this is so once you try them.
Choco Banana is the Japanese Snack Box Recommendation of Joanna of Lux Connections
Mochi – Japanese Snack Food of the Gods
It’s almost impossible to travel to Japan and not come across Mochi. Mochi is a small rice cake that usually comes in a palm-sized ball shape. It’s made from water, sugar, cornstarch and Mochigome, a type of Japanese rice (hence the name!). Although Mochi looks fluffy on the outside, it has more of a squidgy texture to touch.
During the Japanese Heian period, Mochi was considered a food for the gods and used in religious ceremonies. Nowadays, it’s still used at celebrations – most notably New Year’s Eve – but also a common snack in everyday life. You may come across Mochi as a restaurant dessert, at a tea ceremony or sold as a snack in the many convenience stores across Japan.
Traditional Mochi is simple and uses only a few ingredients but you may also find a number of unusual takes on it, especially in supermarkets and convenience stores. It’s not uncommon to find anime character-themed Mochi, often with unusual ingredients, or other imaginative flavour combinations. I recommend trying both the simpler Mochi and some of the more adventurous to truly experience this Japanese favourite!
Thanks to Jodie of AlaJode for recommending Mochi as a must-eat Japanese Sweet Snack.
Lavender Ice-Cream, Regional Snack Speciality of Hokkaido
Japan is known for its interesting and sometimes very particular flavours of ice-cream, such as black sesame, matcha but also miso, seaweed, and even soy sauce. Having tried several of the aforementioned ice-cream tastes during our Japan trip, my favourite flavour was lavender which I came across on our road trip on Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost and least inhabited island.
Lavender ice-cream can only be found at one this special place in Furano, on Farm Tomita, known especially for its cultivation of… lavender! While many other flowers, such as tulips, poppies and several types of herbs are grown here as well, the extensive lavender fields are what Farm Tomita is most famous for.
As such, it only makes sense that their bestselling ice-cream flavour is lavender. This soft-serve ice-cream is made from rich lavender essence and its refreshing taste is particularly delicious on Hokkaido’s hot summer days. You can buy a lavender ice-cream cone for 300 yen or cup for 250 yen at one of the shops or cafes on Farm Tomita (such as the Potpourri House, the Forest House or the Lavare House).
Lotte of Phenomenal Globe Travel Blog recommends Lavender Ice Cream as a speciality Japanese snack of Hokkaido.
Kinoko No Yama
Meiji’s Kinoko No Yama is a popular Japanese bite-sized snack that has been around since the mid-1970s. These mushroom-shaped snacks feature a light, biscuit-like cracker stem topped with a double-layered milk chocolate cap, and bittersweet.
The biscuit stem has a flavour similar to a Pocky stick, crunchy and mild. Caps taste like a lightly salted white chocolate mixed with caramel. This yummy dessert has a fudge-like texture, which quickly melts away in your mouth (but not in your hand).
Whole milk powder, cacao mass, creaming powder, and almond paste offer something completely different; a smooth, rounded caramel flavour with unobtrusive hints. The biscuit stem is crunchy and when blended with the chocolate seems to take on a real buttery flavour.
This cute mushroom-shaped treat is delicious but not too sweet like some other chocolate snacks and it has a definite dessert-style flavour.
You can buy a box of Kinoko No Yama (“mountain mushrooms”) in most grocery or convenience stores in Japan. Alternatively, you can buy a DIY Candy kit as well. The kit contains several plastic molds, and three types of chocolate cream, strawberry, white, and milk chocolate that will allow you to create your own cute stalk-shaped biscuits.
Ivan of Mind The Travel recommends Kinoko No Yama as a sweet Japanese snack to try in Japan.
200 Flavours of Japanese KitKat
Although this candy is known in many countries around the world and is actually a Swiss product, many travellers associate KitKat with Japan. And this phenomenon is hardly surprising, because in no other country in the world is this waffle candy bar as popular as in Japan. We tried the Japanese varieties for the first time during our day trip to Miyajima and were impressed by its diversity.
While there are only one to three types (whole milk, with white and dark chocolate) in most countries, you can find countless types in Japan. Wasabi or green matcha tea are just two of the most popular kinds of KitKats in the country. There are also plenty of seasonal and regional varieties. It so happens that KitKat has become a popular holiday souvenir in Japan, for both local and foreign tourists.
But the name of the popular candy in Japanese also contributes to the success of it. Pronounced as “Kitto Katto,” it sounds similar to the Japanese version of “Good luck.” That’s why KitKats are often given away to Japanese children as lucky charms for exams.
Thanks to Vicki of VickiViaja for recommending the Japanese KitKat flavours
Japanese Street Snack Food – Ningyo-yaki
Ningyo-yaki is a popular Japanese confectionery that you can easily find on the street all around Japan. Some attribute its name to the Japanese word for a doll (ningyo). Others believe it to be originated from a Tokyo neighbourhood of Ningyocho. Regardless of its origin, it is surely one of the most popular street foods in Asakusa.
Traditionally, these small cakes are baked in a cast-iron mold. By using a different shape of the mold, bakers can create unique shapes. Perhaps the best-known kind is a fish, which is also called Tai-yaki.
Many shops sell this waffle cake along Asakusa’s Nikamise Street. Here, you can find it in the shape of the Five-story Pagoda or KamInarimon lantern as many bakeries like to pay homage to the Seonsoji temple.
It is fun to watch the handmade process by the masters who swiftly bake the confection. First, they fill a cast-iron mold with the batter, drop a spoonful of red bean paste (“Anko”) into the middle of the mold, and then pour more batter to cover. Flip over the mold to bake, and voila! While you nibble this delicious treat, you will arrive at the Sensoji temple. But don’t forget to save one if you want to snap a shot with the Five-story Pagoda as the backdrop!
Ningyo-yaki is recommended by Chloe from Chloe’s Travelogue as a great Japanese sweet snack
Snack Speciality of Kyoto – Shu-Cream
We discovered shu cream while wandering the laneways of Kyoto near Kiyomizu Dera temple. There is a fabulous little shop that we have been going to for over a decade that makes them fresh all throughout the day. The outer shell is a delicious slightly crisp choux (shu) pastry. They are then filled with a silky smooth and delicate custard-like cream filling. I love the seasonal sakura one but there are also matcha tea, custard and other featured options like chestnut in the autumn.
The inspiration, of course, came from the French choux pastries such as eclairs and profiteroles but I like the Japanese version better. The shell is crisper while the cream filling is sweet but not at all sickly letting the delicate flavours shine through. Like many Japanese snacks, it is given a seasonal twist and portioned in just the right size.
While this is the best artisan Shu cream shop in my mind I will definitely eat them anywhere in Japan when given the chance. The Beard Papa’s chain does an excellent mainstream alternative and is conveniently located in many train stations and cities.
Thanks to Toni of 2AussieTravellers for recommending Shu Cream- and where to eat it in Japan.
Cute Japanese Snacks – Bourbon Biscuits
First discovered when looking for suitable calorific snacks to sustain us on a trip to Japan’s Bunny Island, Bourbon Biscuits have now become a bit of an obsession.
I bought them because of their shape – because why make a biscuit round or square when you can make it shaped like a tiny burger or a miniature tree stump? But then, I bit into one, and it was love.
Each biscuit is bite-sized, no messing around with crumb risk here. The biscuit itself is kind of like shortbread, sweet and salty – but then it’s filled – in the case of the burgers – or, coated in the case of the tiny tree stumps – with a ridiculously thick layer of chocolate. They are quite frankly amazing!
Bourbon is a Japanese company that’s been making biscuits since 1942 and they are renowned for the cute shape of their products. In Japan, you’ll find them in convenience stores – they’re easy to spot as they are sold in little boxes rather than packets, but you can also buy them at japancentre.com. The picture on the front gives away the shape inside. I take no responsibility for addiction once you try them.
Thanks to Helen Foster of Differentville for recommending this sweet snack from Japan
Japanese Chocolate to Snack On
No matter where you are in Japan, you’ll always be able to pick up a bar of Meiji chocolate in any convenience store. One of the largest chocolate manufacturers in Japan, Meiji have been making chocolate since 1918, with their first milk chocolate bar going on sale in 1926 and whose recipe has remained mostly unchanged. I often used to pick up a bar of Meiji on my way to language school in Tokyo for a mid-afternoon pick me up with my coffee.
In recent years Meiji’s range of products has expanded to include a high-end bean to bar chocolate and chocolate-covered almonds, but the original Meiji bars are still sure to satisfy any chocolate lovers in Japan seeking a sugar rush.
Thanks to Tanja of Ryokou Girl for recommending Japanese Meiji Chocolate:
Chewy Japanese Snacks – Hi-Chew
Hi-Chew is a great Japanese snack. Hi-Chew is similar to a starburst or taffy but has a much better flavour. This chewy candy is a very popular treat in Japan and it comes in several different flavours such as Momotaro Grape Flavour which is made using Muscat grapes from Okayama Prefecture or Suppai Chew which is quite sour! Of course, they have normal flavours like apple, grape and strawberry as well. The company says to ‘Enjoy the chewiness as the flavour spreads with every bite’.
This famous, chewy, fruity candy has been made in Japan since 1975. They are individually wrapped and have an intense fruity flavour. Hi-Chew is meant to be eaten similar to taffy. It is chewed and the candy will slowly dissolve in your mouth.
I would suggest getting an assortment bag that you can try a lot of different flavours and share them with a friend. Hi-Chew also makes a great souvenir from Japan and its fun to get a bunch of treats and share them with friends.
Thanks to Nicole from Nicole LaBarge Travel Blog for recommending Hi Chews
Growing up I always craved one snack and one snack only, the Japanese Pocky. In hindsight, I am not so sure if that borderline addiction was justified. For anyone that has not been alive for the last few decades, Pocky is simply chocolate-covered biscuit sticks. First invented in 1966, the original Pocky was quickly a sensation in Japan.
Within a few years, a new flavour of Pocky, the almond coating was invented in 1971. As the Japanese treat gained international popularity, more and more flavours started to come out. Nowadays, there are over 50 flavours available, and some flavours are strange like the corn on the cob or the pumpkin.
New flavours are said to come out annually and sometimes regionally, meaning that only certain parts of the world will have access to certain flavours. This explains why I saw Men’s Pocky when I was shopping in the Don Quijote store in Tokyo at night!
Thanks to Sean of –Living Out Lau for recommending his favourite Japanese childhood snack, Pocky
One of Japan’s most popular snacks Dorayaki
From the legend of the Samurai warrior, Benkei, who left behind his gong (Dora) at a farm in the 12th century to the original “sandwich” appearance popping up in a sweet shop in Tokyo in 1914, the history of the dorayaki is pretty unclear and surrounded by exciting stories that could be true or fabricated.
What is clear is that dorayaki is one of the most popular snacks in Japan. The dorayaki can only be explained as two mini pancakes with adzuki bean paste (called Anko) sandwiched between them. These pancakes are actually more like sponge cakes being much softer, fluffier, and with a sweeter taste than what western cultures might be familiar with.
If the Anko filling isn’t to your taste, you can now find plenty of flavours ranging from white bean paste, matcha green tea paste, sweet potato, and chestnut cream among many others. If you find yourself in Japan looking for a dorayaki, legend has it that the best one is found right where it “started”, in the sweet shop, Usagi-ya in Ueno, Tokyo.
Thanks to Ashley from Impact Winder for recommending this red bean paste snack from Japan.
Favourite Japanese Snacks from Tokyo – Tokyo Banana
Have you heard of Tokyo Banana? If you’re a lover of banana-flavoured snacks, these little morsels are a real treat and one of the best Japanese souvenirs!
Delicate sponge cake encases a unique strained banana cream mixture in – you guessed it – a banana shape. One can fit in the palm of your hand and in a few bites, your sweet dessert will soon be demolished.
While banana is an obvious filling, these sweets come in a range of different flavours and patterns such as caramel, maple and chocolate.
As the name suggests, Tokyo Banana was originally only made available in the Tokyo region of Japan in the early ’90s. Despite other similar sweets being on the market at the time, Tokyo Banana was the first to add the country’s capital to its name. This led to a huge increase in popularity and it became an expected gift from those who recently visited Tokyo.
You can find them at major airports throughout Japan, as well as major train stations within Tokyo so you’ve no excuse not to pick up a box!
Thanks to Alyse of the Invisible Tourist Blog for recommending one of Tokyo’s best Japanese snacks
Osaka’s Favourite Japanese Snack – Melonpan
Melonpan is a Japanese snack which is nowadays popular in several countries across Asia and Latin America. Its roots can be traced back to the iconic cosmopolitan Imperial Hotel in Tokyo where guests could for the very first time feast on this sweet bun in 1917.
The origin of the bilingual name is not clear. Melon is considered to refer to the fruit while pan is the Portuguese word for bread. It is however highly uncertain that the original cookie was melon flavoured.
These days melon bread can be found in all kinds of shapes and tastes. Some bakers prepare variations covered with maple syrup or chocolate chips while others add a filling of whipped cream or custard. It will come as no surprise that today you can also find melon flavoured versions, that finally provides a logical explanation for its name.
There is no better place to taste this Japanese dessert than Osaka, the city is called Japan’s kitchen for a reason. No Osaka itinerary is complete as long as you haven’t tasted this
Thanks to Sylvia of Wapiti Travel – Travel Your Way for recommending this great Japanese Snack
Regional Japanese Snack Speciality – Fujiyama Cookies
When I was planning my trip to Japan, a friend of mine said that I had to get the cookies at Mount Fuji when we visited the famous mountain. She couldn’t stop talking about them!
After trying them for myself, I understand her fascination. Not only are they delicious but they are the cutest cookies ever as they are shaped like Mount Fuji. Some are even white chocolate iced to look like a snow-capped Mount Fuji!
These sweet shortbread delights are each made by hand which just makes them that more special in my mind. They come in an array of flavours from the regular vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry to the fancier Green Tea and Earl Grey Tea. Some have toppings such as almonds or orange zest and some are iced.
They come packaged in a variety of ways so there is something to suit everyone. Buy them in individually wrapped singles or grab them in different quantities of cute gift boxes. I bought them in almost every arrangement offered.
However, you choose, understand that the ONLY place in Japan you can get these cookies is at the Fujiyama store when visiting Mount Fuji. They aren’t in convenience stores or at the airports. Be sure to get all the cookies you want while there. I might have come back with enough to alter the weight in my suitcase because they make the perfect souvenir!
Thanks to Heather from Timm Travels for recommending this speciality Japanese Snack from Mount Fuji!
Favourite Seasonal Japanese Snack Ichigo Daifuku.
One of the many things to love about Japan is their thorough celebration of every season. If you visit Japan during cherry blossom season, you will see the extreme example, but the Japanese also celebrate many seasonal foods.
Strawberries are one great example. Sweet, delicious Ichigo (strawberries) are in season during the winter months, and during that time, you can enjoy one of our favourite snacks: Ichigo daifuku.
A daifuku is a traditional Japanese sweet that looks like a dumpling. It’s made of glutinous rice flour and is usually filled with sweet bean paste. Ichigo daifuku also have a single whole strawberry in the centre, and they truly are a snack to celebrate! The sweetness and juice of the strawberry mix with the soft texture of the rice cake for a unique flavour that you will not find outside of Japan.
You can find Ichigo daifuku at Japanese bakeries that sell wagashi (traditional Japanese confections) and at supermarkets, but our favourites were the ones sold at 7-Eleven! Eat these treats right away, because they are made with fresh strawberries and are at their best within a day of purchase.
Thanks to Stephanie from Poppin Smoke for recommending this delicious seasonal snack from Japan.
How to Get Japanese Snacks at Home
Your local Asian store will usually stock a small variety of Japanese snacks, but for the best experience, we’ve found that Japanese Snack Box subscriptions enable you to enjoy a huge variety of both authentic and traditional Japanese snacks without leaving home. Buy for yourself, or treat friends and family with a gift and you’ll never truly leave Japan! With Bokksu, you can opt to sign up to a monthly subscription box (minimum one month), or you can order Al La Carte. Boxes are themed each month and you can find the right Japanese snacks to suit your palate. Give it a go and experience the best Japanese snacks at home.
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