Are you planning to fly to Japan? Or maybe you have friends or family who is traveling there who you can ask to buy you something? Japan is not only famed for its mouth-watering food but also for its unique and fancy snacks which often make people go crazy over them. So if you are traveling, these are the top 5 Japanese snacks which are highly recommended to buy before leaving the country.
You can either buy them and hoard them under your bed (so that no one can get them from you), or give them as a souvenir for anyone you love. The good news is that all these snacks are extremely popular and are available in major airports such as Tokyo Haneda Airport, Tokyo Narita Airport, and Kansai International Airport, so you should never have a problem in finding them. If you worry that your luggage will be overweight, you can also opt to get them from the specialty shops after the security checkpoints inside the airports.
“Shiroi Koibito” literally means white lovers. It originates from Hokkaido and consists of two crispy biscuits with chocolate cream in between. Shiroi Koibito is available in two flavors: white chocolate which is the original flavor and conventional chocolate which is sometimes referred to as the “black version of Shiroi Koibito.”
This snack got many people crazy because of the special flavor of its chocolate cream and the crispy texture of its biscuits. The biscuits taste like butter cookies flavored with fine sugar. Shiroi Koibito is best served chilled (but do not put them in the freezer to avoid the chocolate from freezing). The best bite of Shiroi Koibito is when you feel the biscuits cracking and the half-melted chocolate cream in your mouth.
Shiroi Koibito is available in various sizes – 12-packet, 24-packet, and 36-packet sizes are more commonly seen in airports. Though it is always cheaper to buy them directly from the factory in Hokkaido, a 12-pack Shiroi Koibito in a duty-free shop is normally priced at around 700 yen and 1,400 yen for a 24-pack one.
For me, Shiroi Koibito is ranked number 1 not only because of its taste but also because of its popularity. It is sold in other countries like Malaysia and Singapore as well but the price is normally doubled. If you go to Hokkaido, do not forget to pay a visit to the Shiroi Koibito Park! You will get the chance to see the whole process of how this popular snack is made and you can buy them at a lower price there, too!
Royce’ chocolate comes second in the ranking after Shiroi Koibito. It is very popular among travelers and has branches even abroad. If you are a chocolate lover, Royce’ is indeed recommended for you to buy in Japan. It was established in 1983 and has been the favorite of many up until now. Royce’ products are manufactured in Hokkaido as well.
Royce’ offers a wide range of variety of chocolate products like Nama chocolates, chocolate chips, pure chocolates, chocolate wafers, and chocolate bars. Nevertheless, Nama Chocolate (as shown in picture) seems to be the most in-demand out of all their other products. Nama chocolates are divided into two categories: with liquor and without liquor, and many flavors are available for both categories! As I had tasted, the ones with liquor do not taste alcoholic at all (maybe I have a less sensitive tongue). Some commonly seen flavors in duty-free shops are matcha, champagne, and of course, the original one. If you are lucky, you may find limited-time-only flavors like banana, Calvados, and strawberry. However, they are only available in a very limited quantity.
A Royce’ Nama Chocolate will typically cost you around 800 yen a pack which contains 20 pieces. One thing I should tell you in advance is that Royce’ Nama Chocolates have a very short shelf time of only 1 month, so make sure you finish them all or you would have to throw them out! They are also not like the usual chocolates that you buy from the stores as it has to be stored below 10°C and will melt within 2 hours if left unfrozen. So if you are going to spend a long time on the plane to your intended destination, you can always ask for an ice bag which will normally cost you 100 yen each. Otherwise, you may be devastated to see them turn into an awful lump of melted chocolate when you open the package. No worries, based on my experience, the staff will always ask if you need an ice bag so that your Royce’ chocolates can be “safely arrive home with you.”
Once again, this snack is from Hokkaido! Apparently, the Ainu (native Hokkaido people) seem to know what to do with food the best! Jaga Pokkuru is akin to french fries but with a snack-like crispy texture. Jaga Pokkuru has been one of the best-selling products in duty-free shops because of its crunchiness and, of course, its taste.
If you have never eaten this before, you will be surprised with how a french fry can be so crunchy while retaining its flavor. Well, the fact is that Jaga Pokkuru is 100% made from Hokkaido-raised potatoes and are flavored with roasted salt brought all the way from the Okhotsk district. On top of that, only good quality potatoes are selected to make this popular snack. To enhance its potato flavor, even the skin is left unpeeled when those freshly cut potatoes are sent to the oven.
A little interesting fact is that Jaga Pokkuru was named after Koropokkuru, a dwarf from Ainu folklore. Koropokkuru was known as a shy dwarf that always hides from being seen but is kind enough to share his food by putting it near the homes of the Ainu during midnight.
Jaga Pokkuru is available in two sizes: 6-packet and 10-packet. However, a 10-packet one is more commonly seen and is priced at around 1,000 yen each. However, you may be disappointed if you are a big fan of Jaga Pokkuru. Since it is highly demanded, sometimes, to avoid a shortage of supply, some duty-free shops in airports put a limit to the quantity you can buy. Depending on the shops and stock flow, it can be limited to as low as a maximum of 2 packs for each person.
As an expert in potato products, Potato Farm (manufacturer of Jaga Pokkuru) also offers other potato products such as potato cubes (Jaga Pirika), potato chips (Imoko and Kobutaro), and even powdered potato soup! All of these are available at the airports as well and the prices are somewhat the same. Just in case Jaga Pokkuru is out of stock or you can’t get more, try Jaga Pirika! What makes it a little different from Jaga Pokkuro is that it is made from 3 different types of potatoes with different colors (yellow, red and purple). Not only do they taste slightly different but the colors are 100% natural, too!
Aw, aren’t they cute? Who ever thought that a banana cake can be cute? Tokyo Banana can be easily recognized with its Minion shape and unique patterns. It tastes good as it looks!
Tokyo Banana is available in six flavors and some of them include maple, banana shake, and chocolate banana cream. Different flavors have different patterns printed on them. Each flavor has its own patterns. For example, the one with the leopard skin is chocolate banana cream flavor.
Tokyo Banana is available in 4-pack, 8-pack, and 12-pack, but the 8-pack ones are more commonly seen and are typically priced at around 1,000 Yen each. However, you can’t keep it for too long as its shelf life is only 7 days. This can be an ideal gift to your crush, too. Who knows, you may succeed.
Look at that variety of Kit Kats!!! These are NOT all the flavors of Kit Kat in Japan. In fact, according to Food Republic, there are more than 200 flavors launched in Japan. Not to mention that there are multiple packaging and special editions for some flavors, too!
Kit Kat is ranked as the top 5 snack to buy in Japan because for me, it represents the flavors (which some may be deemed weird) that can only be found in Japan. Though I personally opine that for some flavors, you need a very sensitive tongue to tell the difference (because generally they just taste sweet), there are also many flavors that you will fall in love with after the first bite.
When you travel to Japan, you will see Kit Kats with sorts of unexpected flavors on shelves – from universally acceptable ones like matcha and strawberry to exotic ones like wasabi, soybean, sweet potato, and chili pepper powder. It might be a business strategy, but some of these flavors are regional which means that you can only get certain flavors from certain places. So if you want to try all the flavors, you may need to travel to every corner of Japan.
Typically, a 12-pack package of Kit Kat is sold at around 800 yen each, though it may vary depending on the shop and flavor.
Other than the snacks mentioned above, there are actually a lot more that you can buy in Japan. This list is not only based on my own but also many’s opinions and as well as the snacks’ popularity. I opted to put these snacks as the top 5 because they are available in many specialty shops (especially the ones in airports) and ARE REALLY TASTY. So if it’s your first time to travel to Japan and you don’t want to get a headache over what to buy, just get any of these 5 snacks and I GUARANTEE THAT YOU WILL NEVER GO WRONG!