Japanese snacks have taken over the world – it seems like everybody and their mother has tried, or at least heard of matcha-flavored KitKats, Pocky, or those DIY candy kits that come in all sorts of fun shapes. However, there’s much more to the world of Japanese snacks than meets the eye, and if you’re in Japan looking for some fun local foods to try, here’s ten that you can get virtually anywhere:
Need we say more? But just in case you’ve been living under a rock for the past several years – Pocky are chocolate covered biscuit sticks that come in a wide (and we mean humongous) range of flavors. Granted, you can probably find chocolate and maybe strawberry-flavored Pocky in your nearest Asian supermarket, but there’s so many more to discover if you’re actually in Japan. From local delicacies like Azuki Sandwich and Yubari melon to weird flavors like wasabi, Pocky is an endless adventure!
Japan has perfected the KitKat – to a point where they opened a flagship KitKat store in Tokyo that sells over 50 different flavors of them. Much like Pocky, Japanese KitKats cover a huge range of tastes – from wacky ones like sake and wasabi to refined dark chocolate and orange peel ones. If you’re traveling to different prefectures in Japan, you’ll also find regional KitKat flavors – the Shinshu Apple and the Shikoku Citrus ones are particularly delicious! Also, the Mt Fuji Strawberry Cheesecake KitKats are popular souvenirs to bring home from Japan – the packaging is just superb.
Jagarico are Japan’s most popular potato chips, and you can find them in virtually any convenience store or supermarket. Unlike most potato chips you might be familiar with, Jagarico are stick-shaped, to make them easier to reach from the glass-shaped container they come in. They come in a few different flavors, like Butter and Salt and Spicy Fish Roe, but the Salad one seems to be the most popular with the locals. Interestingly enough, Jagarico flavors are not as intense as western potato chips flavors, and they make you feel like you’re actually eating something healthy with your beer.
Pretz are the savory version of Pocky – a pretzel stick-shaped snack available in, yet again, a couple hundred flavors. Don’t quote us on that number, but know that you can find quite a lot of Pretz flavors – all-time favorites include pizza, butter potato, plain salt, and more. Different prefectures in Japan also produce their own Pretz showcasing local specialties – such as the Nagoya Chicken Wings Pretz. If you want to bring the taste of local dishes home with you, Pretz might be the best way to do that!
5. Kinoko no Yama
Probably the most iconic Japanese cookies out there, Kinoko no Yama are tiny cookie stubs topped off with a chocolate hat, so as to resemble a mushroom (kinoko). They also come in a ton of different flavors, from the basic chocolate one to strawberry, banana, matcha, or azuki beans. Fortunately enough, there isn’t a real mushroom flavor of Kinoko no Yama, but if you’re still craving for something weird, try the baked sweet potato flavor.
Most of you would probably say ‘pudding was a British thing last time I checked’, but let us tell you, it is just as Japanese as sushi and sake. Known as ‘purin’ in Japan, this dessert is a delicious hybrid between custard and crème caramel – and, yet again, it is sold at most convenience stores. Don’t worry, they’ll also give you a free plastic spoon at the counter so that you can dig into it right away. It might not be the best snack to bring back home with you, but you should at least give it a try while in Japan.
The DIY Candy Kits from Kracie are more of a fun pastime than a snack in itself – but it is one of those ‘Japan-only’ thing, so why not grab a few to keep yourself busy back home? These kits let you make your very own miniature candy foods that you can actually consume after you’re done. Popular choices include the Sushi Kit, the Ramen one, the Donut Shop, and the fast food menu DIY Kit – the legend says that one actually taste like meat and fries.
8. Pea Crisps
You might have heard of vegetable chips before – but have you ever come across pea crisps? Much like their name says, these are crunchy dried snap or snow peas, seasoned with salt or other flavors, and they’re a pretty popular snack in Japan. Peas crisps are the perfect alternative to potato chips if you’re looking to reduce your carb intake, yet they taste juts as good, if not better than potato chips. Make sure you try the Snapea Wasabi Ranch from Calbee – they’re truly delightful.
Senbei might not ring a bell as much as the other snacks in this list do, but you should try them at least once if you’re visiting Japan. Senbei are basically seasoned and deep-fried rice crackers that you can buy pretty much anywhere – in supermarkets, convenience stores, or street food stalls. You can think of senbei as an alternative to onigiri if you’re looking to bring something like that home or as a gift for someone.
We could end this list without a drink, could we? Ramune is the perfect beverage to wash down all the snacks mentioned above – and, unsurprisingly enough, it also comes in a ton of different flavors. From regular Japanese soda flavors like melon and grape to questionable ones, like takoyaki (fried octopus balls) or curry, Ramune is an essential Japanese snack you should try.
These are the top 10 Japanese snacks every foreigner should try at least once. Some of them make great gifts for your friends and family, and some are best consumed fresh, right after you leave the convenience store. Regardless of the reason why you sought out this article on Japanese snacks, you’ll definitely enjoy trying out any of these!
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