12 Snacks to Bring Home from Japan

ViaHero
Updated March 18, 2020

You'll enjoy plenty of sushi, tempura, and ramen in Japan. But what food can you actually bring home ? Our Japanese locals helped make this list of 14 Japanese snacks to bring home from Japan! Oishi ne!

For personalized recs—on everything from snacks to sushi to using Tokyo's subway—work with a local to plan your trip. Our trip planners are Japanese locals who will introduce you to a new side of their hometown. Learn more.

"Linelly helped us beyond anything we could've planned ourselves. Everything she suggested for us was spot-on, and I feel we got the best experience by following a local's guidance."
Kate, Recent Traveler
Kate, Recent Traveler

1. Kit Kats

Kit Kats in Japan | Marco Carag/Flickr

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

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!”

QUIZ: Which Japanese food are you?

Looking for the perfect snack that fits your personality? Every foodie has a different palette, so we connected with locals in Japan for their insight on the best snacks in the region. Take our quiz to find out what type of Japanese food you are!

2. 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!
Local Tip:

7-Elevens in Japan sell way more than snack foods like potato chips. You can pick up a fantastic and cheap lunch here, like a bento box. 

What kind of traveler are you?
Let’s face it. People want different things when they travel. Rather than spending hours sifting through blogs and top 10 lists written by people who may have totally different interests than you, why not start by sharing a little about what’s important to you when exploring a new destination?
Enter your travel preferences below and we’ll connect you with a likeminded local in Japan to help you plan your trip based on your specific interests.

3. Pocky

Pocky sticks in Japan | chinnian/Flickr

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.

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.  

5. Oreos

Oreos in Japan | holycalamity/Flickr

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 go straight to the source?

6. 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!)

7. Wagashi

Wagashi | Yuya Tamai/Flickr

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.
Work with a local to plan your trip.
See a side most people miss.

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.

9. Takenoko No Sato

Takenoko No Sato | garapa dish/Flickr

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.)

10. Tea

Tea in Japan | Motoki Tonn/Unsplash

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.
Local Tip:

You can take tea and food tours in most major Japanese cities—a really cool way to explore things to eat!

11. 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.

12. 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.
  • Get local advice—our trip planners recommend the grape, apple, and pear flavors.

BONUS: Foods to try while in Japan

Locals say these snacks may not travel well in your suitcase. So definitely pick one up while in Japan! 

Dorayaki

Dorayaki Food to Bring Home from Japan
Dorayaki | Emran Kassim/Flickr

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.

Taiyaki

Taiyaki Food to Bring Home From Japan
Taiyaki | Jonathan Lin/Flickr

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.
Still have questions about travel to Japan?
Why not ask someone who lives there? ViaHero connects you with a local to help plan your trip. They’ll create a guidebook based on your personal travel style.
You’ll see a unique side of a destination and travel independently—all while saving time and money in the planning process. Find a local today.

Looking for more info?