15 Snacks to Bring Home from Japan

ViaHero · October 21, 2018

You haven’t experienced Japan until you’ve snacked on all the sweet and savory creations it has to offer. We’re sharing our list of top Japanese snacks—get ready to crunch, slurp, and sip your way through your Japanese adventure! Get a Hero on board and build your personalized trip around your snack food obsessions—no judgment here. Oishi ne!

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1. Crazy Kit Kats

Flavor profile: For a Japanese take on the English chocolate wafer bars, sink your teeth into edamame, cinnamon cookie, and citrus golden blend.

Fun facts:

  • Let’s start with the very foundations of Japanese treats—Kit Kats. After adopting these English chocolate bars almost 30 years ago, Japan amassed a treasure trove of over 300 (that’s right, 300) unique Japanese Kit Kat flavors.
  • Coolest part? Kit Kats are given as gifts before tests and interviews because of the similar sound to the Japanese phrase “Kitto katsu,” or “You will surely win!”

Kit kats in Japan

2. Bizarre potato chips

Flavor profile: Feed the potato chip frenzy with bizarre flavors like sushi and salmon—the more bizarre, the better!

Fun facts:

  • You might think you know Lays and Pringles, but you’ve never seen potato chips like this! Go on an off-the-beaten-path Japanese adventure and try flavors like sushi, walking taco, wasabeef (wasabi and beef), and crispy salmon.
  • Don’t be deterred if the brands aren’t in English—simply take a chance on the bag with the cutest mascot!

Potato chips in Japan

3. Pocky (all the pocky)

Flavor profile: Go lowkey with flavors like chocolate and strawberry, or fancy ones like cheesecake and champagne.

  • Pocky (pokki) has been at the top of the Japanese snack food chain for over 50 years, and for a darn good reason.
  • With flavors like cocoa milk, wine (yes, wine), and chocolate banana, you’ll need to buy a few boxes just for your secret midnight snacks.

Pocky in Japan

4. Morinaga DARS (Japan's signature chocolate bar)

Flavor profile: Chocolate connoisseurs, rejoice! Morinaga DARS come in chocolatey and fruity-flavored bars.

Fun facts:

  • “Dars” is Japanese for "a dozen", and you’ll absolutely want to bring home a dozen of these. You’ll know you’ve reached the peak of Japanese dessert (and of your adult life) when you bite into one of these babies.
  • Choose from foundational flavors like white and milk chocolate to the slightly funky flavors like fermented rice and bitter Setouchi lemon.  

Morinaga DARS chocolate in Japan

5. Unique Oreos

Flavor profile: Start with Crispy Lemon Mousse Oreos and top off the celebration with Birthday Cake and Tiramisu.

Fun facts:

  • Come home with all the cavities after stuffing yourself with this Japanese take on a worldwide icon. Eating them is a Japanese must-do.
  • Japanese Oreos are so sought after that they’re auctioned off on Ebay—why not just plan your own Japanese journey and meet the legendarily delicious Oreos on their home turf?

Oreos in Japan

6. Wagashi

Flavor profile: Small, sweet, multi-colored cakes and dumplings that glide across your taste buds.

  • Part of Japanese food culture for over 300 years, these petite, sweet-tooth entrancing creations seriously look like fairy food.
  • With wagashi, the beauty is in the details—you really have to taste the sweet rice flour, bean paste, and sticky rice desserts to believe they’re real.

Wagashi cakes to bring home from Japan

7. Hiyoko Sweets

Flavor profile: These fluffy, kawaii sweet buns most well-known for being shaped like baby chicks.

Fun facts:

  • According to legend, the design for Hiyoko cakes came to the company’s founder in a dream—with an origin story like this, it’s got to be delightful.
  • These sweet buns are meant to “create a more friendly and lively society,” and we think world peace would certainly come about faster if everyone had a Hiyoko bun. (I mean, look at these things!)

Hiyoko sweets cakes to bring home from Japan

8. Calbee Shrimp Snack

Flavor profile: Exactly what it sounds like—french fries with that savory seafood taste.

Fun facts:

  • Calbee snack sticks are famous all over Asia, but the company’s home base is in Japan, and Flavor HQ breaks out the best flavors every day!
  • Ditch the diet at home, and dive into a flavor that is far from shrimpy. For the discerning chip lover, pair with Calbee’s Pizza Potato Chips.

Calbee chips in Japan

9. Takenoko No Sato

Flavor profile: The cutest little chocolate-covered biscuits meant to look like bamboo shoots.

  • For around 300 yen a pop, you’ll want a suitcase for your new collection of boxes of Takenoko No Sato.
  • While the flavor isn’t all that strange, these little cookies are seriously addictive. (Personally, we think the cookies look like pinecones, but bamboo is cool too.)

Takenoko No Sato in Japan

10. Mochi

Flavor profile: Sweet, sticky, and chewy, these rice cakes can be enjoyed by themselves but are also the best addition to your ice cream sundae.

  • No one really knows where the mysterious mochi originated from, but Japanese mythology attributes this delicacy to the arrival of kami (Shinto spirits) to Earth.
  • This otherworldly dessert actually comes as its own mochi ice cream flavor, so it’s perfect for cooling down in Japan’s hot summer months.

Mochi in Japan

11. Tea

Flavor profile: Green tea, also known as ocha, comes in thousands of intense flavor combinations that vary by famous cities and regions.

Fun facts:

  • You might think Japanese green tea only comes in drink form, but you’d be missing out!
  • Japan is crafty with its green tea creations, giving the world incredible gifts like white chocolate matcha cream pie (say that 5 times fast), tea cake cookies, and strawberry-matcha fondue.

Matcha green tea in Japan

12. Tokyo Banana

Flavor profile: A cream-filled cake and the more frou-frou cousin of a Twinkie (also 50 times more delicious).

Fun facts:

  • As the name so discreetly suggests, this banana-shaped goodie originated in Tokyo, Japan’s trendy HQ.
  • Tokyo Banana cakes aren’t just your grandma’s desserts—with flower, panda, giraffe, and Hello Kitty patterns, the cakes are a trip for your taste buds and your inner kid.

Tokyo banana

13. Taiyaki

Flavor profile: Famous Japanese cakes shaped like fish, commonly filled with a red bean paste (that doesn’t taste like fish at all).

Fun facts:

  • A classic dessert with a flavor that pretty much speaks for itself, taiyaki is named after the Japanese tai, or snapper.
  • The fish is a lucky symbol for Japanese Buddhists—basically, taiyaki are good for you all around! You’ve got to check them out while you’re in Japan.
  • Go on a treasure hunt for the flaky taiyaki in Osaka’s Dotonbori, Japan’s #1 foodie destination.

Taiyaki fish cookies and cake in Japan sometimes with ice cream

14. Mitsuya Cider Candy

Flavor profile: Hard candy flavored like the popular Mitsuya Cider drink.

Fun facts:

  • Mitsuya Cider has been proving that happiness is fizzy and sugary since 1884—one pop of a cider candy onto your tongue, and you’ll know why this company is still kickin’ (seriously, it’s something you have to try while you’re in Japan).
  • The cider candies are the Japanese answer to Pop Rocks, with carbonated bubbles that pop as the candy dissolves.
  • Our Heroes recommend the grape, apple, and pear flavors.

15. Dorayaki

Flavor profile: A popular treat made of two pancakes filled with a sweet red bean paste.

Fun facts:

  • Dorayaki (also known as the “Dora Cake”) are perfect for a posh afternoon tea.
  • Available year-round, these fluffy cakes’ fillings are sometimes mixed with cherries or lemons.
  • Averaging 300 yen each, dorayaki are the ideal way to satisfy your sweet tooth without busting your budget.

Dorayaki Japan snacks

Chomping to get to Japan’s most delectable snack foods? Create a unique Japanese experience with a local Hero who knows all the ins and outs of Japanese cuisine. Before you hop aboard the flavor train, check out these handy tips: