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Japanese Chips and Snacks: Must-Try Brands and Flavors

By Karina Ikedo
May 31, 2022

Chips are savory (and sometimes sweet) snacks that are hard to put down as they’re deliciously addictive. Japan is known for having unique and delicious chips that may be unfamiliar to Western audiences–Japanese Pringles alone are proof of that. Having flavors like seaweed and soy sauce, Japanese chips have so many varieties it’s almost uncountable. 

Brands like Calbee, Koikeya, and Tohato have some of the best chips in the Japanese market. Here are the top Japanese chip flavors and brands you have to try at least once in your life!

Koikeya Potato Chips Rich Consomme

Koikeya is one of the leading snacks companies in Japan, being the first company to successfully mass produce potato chips in Japan. The brand has one of Japan’s best-selling chips, with the perfect balance of flavor, crunch, and texture. 

A popular seasoning for snacks in Japan is konsome, or consomme, the powdered form of a clear soup made from a richly seasoned stock of meat and vegetables that melts in your mouth after the first bite. The flavor of the chips has a slight kick of spice which we love, and it has a rich flavor that is not overpowering.

A shelf in a Japanese convenience store stored with several cup brands of Japanese chips, specifically the stick type with many flavors and colors.
In places like the US, you may see bags or long tubes of chips. Japan, however, also has plenty of chips that come in cups. Image via Shutterstock

Koikeya Stick Karamucho Hot Chili Flavor

Karamucho chips were first released in 1984 and is Japan’s No.1 spicy potato chips brand. The name is a play on the Japanese word karai (spicy) and the Spanish word mucho (very). It is a tasty and spicy potato snack with an exquisite combination of meat, vegetable, and chili flavor. 

So, if you’re a fan of spicy snacks, this is the perfect bag of Japanese chips for you. It has a perfect balance of flavor, texture, and crunch making it super addictive. The stick shape also gives it a deeper flavor than typical potato chips, with every stick being coated with plenty of chili powder. 

Looking for your own savory Japanese snacks, including Japanese chips and more? Check out TokyoTreat! TokyoTreat sends tasty Japanese snacks, sweets, drinks, and more every month right to your door, so you can enjoy Japanese treats both sweet and savory!

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Koikeya Suppa Mucho Sour Plum

Another iconic flavor from Koikeya is the Suppa Mucho (very sour) potato sticks. Like an ode to the Japanese plum (ume) tree, every bite carries the floral notes of plum blossoms, the sourness of umeboshi (pickled plum), and the earthiness of shiso (perilla leaves). 

In old times, umeboshi was the only candy they had in Japan and is a very classic Japanese treat. The chips have the perfect balance of sourness, being tangy and salty but having a hint of sweetness of the plum. It is hands down one of the most addictive potato chip flavors.

Calbee Nori Shio Potato Chips

Calbee Foods Co. is the largest producer of Japanese potato snacks, being Koikeya’s biggest competitor. Its snacks are hugely popular in Asia and well known in the United States.

One of Calbee’s classic chips is the nori (seaweed) and shio (salt). These nori shio chips by Calbee have been in production since 1976. In other words, it’s been pleasing mouths in Japan for some time as a perfect snack with just the right amount of crunch. It is a well-balanced sweet-and-salty flavor combination that shows up in a variety of foods, including ramen bowls, onigiri (rice balls), and seaweed salads. 

The inside of a Lawson, a popular Japanese convenience store, with multi-colored bags of Japanese chips from their original brand in sour cream, light salt, potato stick, and shrimp rice cracker.
Japanese chips are so popular that each konbini (Japanese convenience store) has its own brand of chips with plenty of different types and flavors. Image via Shutterstock

Calbee Jagariko Potato Butter

The Calbee Jagariko, one of our favorite Japanese snacks, are potato chips shaped like thin sticks that are sold in a cup-like package. It has a crispy texture every time you bite into it and a delightful taste. They are flavored with rich Japanese butter from Hokkaido, regarded as a high-quality butter bade from the famous Hokkaido dairy

The moderate saltiness enhances the richness of the butter, creating a nice flavor combination in your mouth. If you are looking for a delicious savory snack, this one will not disappoint. 

Calbee Pizza Potato Chips

Have you ever wished you could have pizza without actually buying a pizza? These Calbee chips will give you that experience, combining the taste of double cheese and sauce to blow your mind. The potato chips are coated in a blend of sharp cheddar and smooth Emmental cheeses, along with the taste of pepperoni, tomato, and spices over thick-cut potato chips. The subtle pizza flavor shines through with the help of generous garlic-and-herbs seasoning, making it a hit in Japan and abroad.

Alternative for Potato Chips

Not all chips are potato chips, so here is a list of must try Japanese rice crackers and popcorns.

A red bag of Tohato Caramel Corn, a Japanese brand of corn puffs made with a sweet caramel coating, against a blue background with snacks and their peanut mascot on the front.
Not all crispy, crunchy snacks are necessarily chips. These corn puffs are similar to Cheetos, but with a sweet coating instead. Image via Shutterstock

Amanoya Japanese Rice Crackers

Amanoya is one of Japan’s premier rice cracker companies, and Himemaru is one of their main products. Himemarus are golden-hued, deep-fried rice crackers in the shape of a shell. 

Manufactured by one of Japan’s leading rice cracker brands, these rice crackers are a sweet-salty snack with a satisfying crunch. These traditional soy crackers are light and savory. Perfect for midday cravings, they’re a favorite nosh from Japan.

Mike Popcorn: Butter Soy Sauce Flavor

Mike Popcorn began as Japan’s first domestic popcorn brand, selling popcorn from stalls at amusement parks in 1957. The original! Mike’s Popcorn was the first company in Japan to develop butter and soy sauce-flavored popcorn which became the No.1 selling popcorn in the market. 

It features a flavor combination unique to Japan: Hokkaido butter and soy sauce, which gives the popcorn a gentle buttery and mild taste. It has the light texture of popcorn with a savory aroma. Whether you’re new to this flavor or not, you’re sure to love it after this!

Tohato Caramel Corn

Tohato is one of Japan’s most well-known confectionery companies, and Caramel Corn is one of their most successful product lines. These airy caramel corn puffs were first introduced in Japan in 1971. Satisfy your need for sweetness, savoriness, and crunchiness all together with every delicious mouthful of Tohato’s Caramel Corn.

They consist of crunchy corn bites covered in a super thin caramel glaze, making them sweet, but not overpoweringly sweet. To balance its sweetness, the glazed corn curls are typically combined with a handful of roasted peanuts, though the brand has also put out an almond option. And along with the original caramel corn chips, Tohato releases seasonal flavors throughout the year, with past variations including melon, lemon, and sweet potato. Once you try Caramel Corn, you will wonder how you ever lived without it.

Let us know if you have or would like to try any of these unique Japanese chips below!

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Karina Ikedo

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