One of the best souvenirs you can buy on your travels is definitely local snacks: neighbouring Korea has its fair share of unique offerings, and Japan is no different!
Make sure you buy at least one or two snacks from this list of 29 when you are in Japan — don’t tell anyone that you’ve been to the Land of the Rising Sun if you come back empty-handed!
These traditional Japanese sweets are so adorable, you will definitely want to buy boxes of them back home!
Wagashi is typically enjoyed in combination with a cup of green tea, and you will find them available in a wide variety of shapes and ingredients.Common ingredients include sweet azuki bean paste, Japanese agar, sesame paste, and chestnuts.
You can definitely find wagashi being sold in many places, including restaurants, temples, and convenience stores. However, while some are popular across Japan around the year, there are certain types of wagashi that are only available regionally or seasonally, so make sure to buy these limited editions when you get the chance to.
The Japanese really don’t disappoint when it comes to creating cute snacks, and Hiyoko is another good example of that.
Contrary to popular opinion, Hiyoko was actually created in Fukuoka (not Tokyo!) over 100 years ago and remains a favorite among the locals today. It is actually a sponge cake or chiffon cake, and it comes in the adorable shape of a baby chick. Each cake is hand-made with love, and Hiyoko has always been made with the same recipe that has been used since their creation.
A box of five called “Hiyoko Family” is also available, with varying sizes looking like a little family of chickling cakes – how adorable!
Mochi is undoubtedly one of Japan’s most well-loved and most famous snacks. These rice cakes come in various colors, forms, shapes, flavors, and sizes, but they share similar characteristics of being soft and chewy with a sweet center.
It is not difficult to find shops selling mochi, be it the subways stations, department stores, or the nearly omnipresent convenience stores. If you are looking for more unique types of mochi, remember to check out the specialty shops and restaurants.
4. Takenoko No Sato
Takenoko No Sato can be translated to ‘bamboo shoot village’ in English—such an apt name for these cute biscuits!
The bite-size almond flavoured biscuits are covered in a thin layer of creamy milk chocolate, then topped with a layer of slightly darker chocolate moulded into the shape of a little bamboo shoot. You can definitely bag a few boxes of these from most convenience stores and supermarkets.
5. Mitsuya Cider Candy
Mitsuya Cider is a popular soda beverage sold in Japan, and if you enjoy drinking this on your travels but find it too troublesome to dabao bottles of cider home, you can still enjoy the taste of it in candy format. With so many flavours to choose from, you’ll never get bored of this sweet treat.
Those who grew up watching Doraemon would surely be familiar with this Japanese confectionary. If you have ever wondered why dorayaki is Doraemon’s favourite food, you can now find out why by purchasing this from most stores in Japan.
For the uninitiated, dorayaki is а red-bean pancake which consists of two small pancake-like patties made from Japanese sponge cake wrapped around a filling of sweet Azuki red bean paste.
For those who like to hunt down famous stores, make sure to include Usagiya, a long-established dorayaki store that is said to have invented dorayaki’s current shape in 1914..
7. Bake Creamy Cheese
Cheese lovers, look over here!
You will love the aroma from these baked bite-sized cheesecakes, which are made with a blend of the highest quality of cheeses. The crispy exterior is coupled with a rich cheese filling that melts in your mouth, making for an irresistible snack that you will keep going back to Japan to stock up on.
Why settle for fruit gummies that taste nothing like the real thing, when you can buy Cororo from Japan?
This ultra soft gummy has an accurate fruit taste, and a texture that is a combination of jelly and gummy. This unique characteristic has made them a hot topic in Japan, especially among the local candy lovers.
These crackers are extremely rich and brim with real cheese powder. Coupled with its satisfying crunchiness, it’s little wonder that it has gained a legion of international fans who are extremely obsessed with a seemingly common snack.
They have different flavours that are made from different types of cheese, and also boast some truly bizarre flavours, such as avocado cheese.
10. Yamachan Squid Snack
No beer-drinking session is complete without snacks, and now you can drink your Asahi beer with this savoury squid snack from Yamachan.
Crunchy on the outside while chewy on the inside, you’ll surely find yourself reaching for this even when you’re not drinking alcohol.
11. Royce Chip
Japan is not only great at creating well-packaged and cute food: they are also fantastic at coming up with interesting foods that you would probably never have dreamed of.
If you love potato chips AND chocolate, this snack is the best of both worlds for you. This unique combination of crispy salty potato chips and sweet chocolate may initially sound a little strange, but fans of this swear by its addictive taste.
12. Royce Nama Chocolate
If you are not up for trying chocolate-covered potato chips, you can always stick to what is arguably Royce’s most famous offering: Nama Chocolate.
Nama chocolate translates to “raw chocolate”, and is made from fresh cream produced in Hokkaido. What truly sets this raw chocolate apart from the rest is how it melts really easily in your mouth. Western liquors and sprinkled cocoa powder are also used to further enhance the smooth, refined taste that you can’t get enough of.
13. Press Butter Sand
Press Butter Sand is a popular cookies shop located inside Tokyo Station, and you can spot it from the long queues. Don’t be scared away by the queues though, because the wait is definitely worth it!
Opened in April 2017, this relatively new shop sells delicious butter cookies that are filled with generous amounts of butter cream and butter caramel fillings, all made from fresh Hokkaido butter.
P.S. Press Butter Sand is opened by the same people behind the wildly popular BAKE Cheese Tart!
14. Orihiro Puru Konnyaku Jelly
Eating jelly can actually pose as a danger, especially for young kids and the elderly. With that in mind, Orihiro Puru Konnyaku Jelly has created a snack that is not only delicious, but much safer for everyone to enjoy.
Made with almost 18 to 22% fruit juice, this petit-sized jelly was specifically designed and formulated to prevent choking, as it slides easily down the throat with no risk of suction. Hence, this makes for a great souvenir to buy for everyone, regardless of their age.
15. Yoku Moku Cigaré
Yoku Moku claims to be a treat that most people in Japan will have enjoyed at one time or another, and they are probably not exaggerating.
Inspired by Western confectionery, these vanilla-flavoured cigarette-shaped butter cookies have developed a loyal following around the world, particularly in the Middle East. It is said that customers there even purchase 100 boxes at a time!
If you think these are similar to the love letters we eat, you are completely wrong: these light and delicately rolled snacks are baked with plenty of butter, creating a melt-in-mouth experience that love letters cannot replicate.
16. Tokyo Milk Cheese Factory’s Salt & Camembert Cookies
Tokyo Milk Cheese Factory is widely known for their luxurious salt & camembert cookies, which are made from the finest Hokkaido milk and rare French Guérande salt.
Now who could possibly say no to this light, crispy, and savoury snack!
17. Shiroi Fusen Milk Cream
This snack has been around since 1982, hence many locals have fond memories of eating this rice cracker during their childhood days. It remains a popular snack even today, and is widely available at many supermarkets in Japan.
Shiroi Fusen means “white balloon” in Japanese, an appropriate name given to the rice cracker that looks kind like a white balloon. For those who are curious, the ‘white balloon’ consists of two white Senbei rice crackers sandwiched together with chocolate cream.
18. iFactory Umeboshi No Sheet
A fan of dried plums, but wish you could enjoy them in a more convenient way?
These sweet and tangy umeboshi (fermented salt plums) have their pits removed, and are delicately rolled into sheets. They are a perfect ‘pick-me-up’ snack that you definitely need to bring home from Japan.
19. The Noir by Le Tao
Based in Hokkaido, LeTao’s The Noir is a traditional sweet recreated with modern techniques. You will find freeze-dried strawberries wrapped in white chocolate, and infused with ingredients such as puffed wheat, raspberry, and black tea.
We love the indulgent confectionary’s equally elegant packaging, and we are sure your friends & family will love it too!
20. Bankaku Yukari shrimp cracker
Bankaku Yukari Shrimp cracker uses quality, natural shrimp as the main ingredient, and are baked to such perfection that you will be overwhelmed by the delicious flavour and roasted aroma.
An extra incentive to buy this snack is the fact that it is high in protein, calcium and low in fat, so you won’t feel guilty for snacking on this frequently!
21. Hagi no Tsuki Custard Cake
Most of us are familiar with the Chinese tradition of eating mooncakes during the Mid-Autumn Festival. Japan has a different version of the mooncake, called Hagi no Tsuki.
The shape and colour of this sponge cake resemble the harvest moon, but a surprise awaits inside: a mild-flavored custard cream filling! Unfortunately, the shelf life of Hagi no Tsuki is only about 2 weeks, so remind your friends and relatives to eat this ASAP!
22. Tokyo Honey Sugar
From the same brand that produces the Cigaré biscuits, Tokyo Honey Sugar is another beloved snack that ranks high in the Tokyo Station souvenir rankings.
This crispy beehive-patterned waffle is enriched with honey and engraved with a bee – such a sweet touch, literally!
23. Shiroi Kobito
Arguably one of the most famous Japanese snacks alongside Tokyo Banana, Shiroi Koibito hails from Hokkaido, and is a light sandwich cookie with a white chocolate filling.
This snack is so popular with tourists that its factory in Sapporo not only offers tours, but also contain a theme park known as Shiroi Koibito Park where both children and adults can enjoy themselves!
Meltykiss is a series of chocolate truffles that are sold in Japan only in the winter. This coincides with its selling point, as it is marketed as a “chocolate that melts in your mouth like snow”.
The bite-sized chocolates are coated in a fine dusting of cocoa powder, which is supposed to represent snow. The ganache center can come in a variety of flavours, such as chocolate and match, and it melts in your mouth so easily that you are forgiven for mistaking it as snow.
Mention “potato snack” in Japan, and you are bound to be introduced to Jagabee.
Jagabee’s iconic potato stick snack has fans from beyond the shores of Japan. You can find these in a variety of flavours and seasonings, be it lightly-salted or flavoured with soy sauce.
26. Tokyo Banana
This famous snack has been retailing in Japan for almost 30 years since 1991, and remains a souvenir that almost every tourist will buy back home.
Its secret recipe to success? A banana custard cream filling that is made from strained banana puree. Its luscious texture and sweet taste, coupled with the most kawaii designs on the sponge cake, make this snack seriously difficult to resist buying!
27. Exotic-flavoured KitKat
“KitKat” sounds like “kitto katsu”, a Japanese expression meaning good luck, and hence it became a good luck gift for many Japanese schoolchildren.
But that’s not all – these chocolates are famous for all the strange flavours that you can find them in. A good number of them are only available in Japan during limited periods, including exotic ones like grilled potato, brandy & orange, apricot seed, and apple!
28. Exotic-flavoured Pocky
You may already be familiar with Pocky, the stick biscuits that are coated with chocolate.
However, just like KitKat, these come in a lot more flavours that you have seen in local stores. Some truly puzzling and shocking offerings include Otona no Milk (literally translated to ‘Adult’s Milk’), Rainbow (7 different flavours & colours), Coconuts,
29. Morinaga DARS
Morinaga is the company responsible for introducing the tradition of women giving men chocolates on Valentine’s Day in Japan, hence they are also one of the most famous chocolate brands in the country.
Basic varieties of DARS that are available everywhere include milk chocolate, white chocolate and dark chocolate. Some other flavours you may be lucky enough to find are uji matcha (high-class brand of tea originating from south Kyoto), matcha milk, and Hello Kitty Strawberry Milk.