Japan has a lot of snacks to offer. Some people might be overwhelmed by the choice, some people might have favourites but want to discover more and some people just like a good read! No matter what your reason might be for being here we've written this guide up to not only help newcomers know a little bit more about the sweets and snacks we give you each month on Tokyo Treat, but maybe help you either discover a new goodie or even learn something new about your fave nibbles!
From Kit Kats to gummies, senbei to hi-chews, see if our ultimate guide to Japanese Snacks helps you on your way to snack heaven!
1. Kit Kats
Kit Kat was first introduced to Japan in 1973, a full 28 years after it was created in the UK, and it has taken Japan by storm ever since! It has become one of the countries famous chocolates and with around 350 amazing flavours, many of which created from famous Japanese flavours it’s not hard to see why. Some of the best Japanese flavours include adzuki bean sandwich, baked sweet potato, eitaro kuro mitsu (a famous taste from Kyoto) along with the many variations of matcha! Some of them may sound a little weird (miso Kit Kat, anyone?) but they are honestly all delicious!
Kit Kat has become such a cultural phenomenon that there has been tons of interesting collaborations including a Kit Kat bar where you can try sushi paired with specially selected alcohol and even a Kit Kat boutique!
It’s become some peoples mission to try absolutely every single unique flavour of Kit Kat, although it can be a difficult one with many of them never being shipped outside of Japan unless you have friends or other sources! Thankfully we have a great selection on our Japan Haul store!
First released in 1966, Pocky from the Glico company was designed to be an easily carried, light snack to eat whilst out and about. We can definitely agree that they achieved that! It was named after the Japanese onomatopoetic word pokkin (ポッキン) which is the sound a Pocky makes when you take a bite. Give it a try and you’ll see they’re right!
Pocky now has well over 50 flavours under its belt, as well as various types including Pocky Crush, Pocky G and Reverse Pocky. Some of the best flavours to try are the regional flavours such as Kobe Wine, Nagano Grape and Yubari Melon as well as Honey Pocky, Royal Milk Tea, and Mango flavours. Pocky is also sold outside of Japan, such as in the UK where it is known as Mikado.
Want to try a few flavours yourself? Check out what we have on Japan Haul!
Umaibo is a form of dagashi (which we’ll cover next!) and probably one of the most famous kinds too! A cheap daily snack that’s been available since 1979, it has been a childhood favourite for a lot of adults and continues to be for kids even now! This puffed corn stick is super quick and easy to eat, not to mention cheap! The mascot Umaemon is named to make people think of the popular character, Doraemon and he kind of looks like him too...
With dozens of flavours available you can try odd tastes like Takoyaki, Shrimp and Mayonnaise and Natto! Past flavours even included strange offerings such as Crab Dumplings and Red Lobster too!
Carrying on from the delish Umaibo, Dagashi is a whole category of Umaibo-esque items! The name Dagashi (駄菓子) comes from the two words ‘da’ for futile or negligible and ‘kashi’ for snacks. Who’d have thought that something so cheap could become such a favourite! Dagashi dates back to the Edo period (1603-1867), starting with simple snacks like grains mixed with malt syrup. Flash forward a few hundred years and we now have such snacks as Umaibo, Baby Star Ramen, Ramune candies and hundreds more!
There are still many traditional Dagashi stores you can find around both Tokyo and Japan, but if you want something a bit more interesting, why not try these Dagashi Bars! A modern way to enjoy an old classic!
Gummies are also big business in Japan, with hundreds, if not thousands of varieties available and more coming out all the time! Whether you like hard gummies, soft ones, some with fillings or super sour ones there will always be a type and flavour that you’ll enjoy! Worried about enjoying too much of that delicious suger? How about buying some special beauty gummies featuring collagen? Or dose up on your daily vitamins the delicious way!
For some more unique sweets, Harajuku is the place to go, featuring stores like CANDY SHOW TIME. Yummy!
6. Hard Candy
Speaking of hard candy, if you thought soft gummies were taking over, then hard candy is providing stiff competition! Popular especially amongst adults for a refreshing break item, there are fruits flavours of various varieties, shaped types such as the fue whistle candies and even more traditional types like konpeito!
Hi-Chew is definitely a candy that may be more well known outside of Japan. It’s pretty famous and popular and we can see why! This soft chewy candy was first released in 1975, although a predecessor was released in 1931 called ‘Chewlets’ which was an attempt to make something as chewable as gum, but without the need to dispose of it which could have been considered rude! Since then Hi-chew has become one of the most famous and best-selling Japanese candies, even opening an American branch and being eaten by American Baseball teams! Hi-chew offers lots of flavors and they equally tasty.
DIY candy sets from Japan go against the rule you might have heard when you were younger. In this case you do play with your food! If food is boring and has never been much fun for you, why not try one of these amazingly creative sets to get your imagination going whilst you create your own candy creations!
You’d be surprised at the varieties on offer too, from hamburgers and sushi to bentos and restaurant style meals all crafted with sugar and sweets! If that’s too much to handle then you can even craft some small festival foods like ice-cream! Check out our selection at Japan Haul if you want to become a ‘DIY master’!
Matcha is perhaps one of the most traditional and classic flavours most people would think of when thinking of Japanese tastes. Of course, there are the traditional sweets that have a matcha flavouring as well as ice-creams and other desserts, but you can also find more interesting examples, from KitKat and Pocky in dozens of regional matcha tastes to popcorn and even potato chips!
Want to learn just a little more about the huge varieties of teas in Japan? Check this site out for a quick read! It’s fun to learn!
If matcha is the King of traditional flavours in Japan, then sakura would have to be the queen! It’s sad to think that this delicate yet delicious flavour used to be kept only to the season when the cherry blossoms themselves bloomed, nowadays, although slightly harder to find off season, you can still track down some staple sakura flavoured items such as ice-cream, taiyaki, and of course who can’t forget the delish Sakura KitKat and Starbucks limited edition flavours.
Check out Japan Haul’s selection of sakura flavoured items. We’re a big fan of the taste, so we always keep some in stock!
Chips might be something everyone knows, but as usual Japan has found a way to add their unique spin to things! From Japan specific flavours such as ume, yuzu and wasabi, to even chocolate covered chips that sound strange, but are oddly delicious! Have you heard of Jagariko too? If you love mashed potato but can’t buy any on a whim, did you know you can make some on the go in a flash with this stick chip pot? Just add hot water, wait a couple of minutes, stir and you have transformed your crunchy potato snack into a tasty mash!
Chocolate, much like in most other countries is a serious snack. Japan has plenty of options too, from Morigaga of Hi-Chew fame’s own take, to Meiji and even mini bite sized Tirol chocolates that are devilishly cheap. Flavours include everything from your standard white, regular and dark to matcha, strawberry and even sakura or kinako (roasted soybean flour)!
To learn a little bit more about chocolate in Japan, including about White Day, check out this handy link!
13. Cookies and Biscuits
Cookies and biscuits make for a popular mid-day snack in Japan, much like how they probably are for where you live too! You can find anything from cheap, plain offerings to more decadent biscuits in amazing flavours! Why not check out Coountry Maam, or for a more childhood reminiscent snack, Koala March, crunchy biscuits filled with a variety of tasty creams!
Another classic Japanese dagashi. This sweet snack is widely considered to be the oldest dagashi in Japan. It’s a star-shaped candy and come in many flavours and colors. Konpeito was first introduced to Japan by the Portuguese in 1546 and it immediately captured people’s attention (and sweet teeth!). You will be amazed by just how beautiful the Konpeito is. You might even think that it’s a shame to eat it, but believe me, you will never get enough of this Konpeito.
For another more traditional snack offering you needn’t look much further than Japanese senbei! This one has truly stood the test of time, with the first recorded mention of the word ‘senbei’ being dated around 737! These rice crackers can be found in varieties from small to incredibly large and can be either sweet or savory. Popular options include nori (seaweed) wrapped senbei and sugar-coated kinds to even more modern chocolate varieties!
Trust Japan to make something as simple as chewing gum interesting! Whether you like the typical bite sized types or the long strip types, there is something for everyone here. Flavours also range from the traditional varieties of mint to plum, soda and all the fruits in between! You can find many tie ins to favourite franchises in bite sized types, often with the potential of a collectable! There are also various adult versions, usually in extreme sour flavours! Which would you want to try?
Drinks in Japan can sometimes be delicious, other times just a little strange...On the one hand, there is the traditional ramune which is refreshing and delicious in the summer, but did you know they come in some very odd flavours like kimchi and takoyaki? Hmm... Then there’s the drinks like Calpis and Pocari Sweat. Great drinks for giving you a healthy boost in the middle of summer with their vitamins and minerals but the names? Not exactly forgettable! Of course, though, brands like Coca Cola and Pepsi are still big in Japan, with seasonal offerings such as Sakura and Cassis options! Make sure to check out Japan Haul for any favourites you might have!
Hopefully this guide has given you some new information on all your favourite Japanese Snacks and Sweets even if you knew all about them before, and if not then maybe you have some more ideas on what delicious goodies to try next! Japan Haul has a lot of the previously mentioned nibbles, so you can always treat yourself to a new flavour! Which is your favourite one out of this list though? Let us know in the comments below!