When asking for snack recommendations from my Japanese labmates and fellow university students, several names would come up time and time again. Easily found at a convenience store (ie. 7-11, Family Mart), each of these snacks are quintessentially Japanese, and also very oishii (delicious)!
Umaibō (うまい棒) Literally meaning “delicious stick,” umaibo is a puffed corn snack beloved at all ages. It is available in a wide variety of flavors, ranging from chocolate to takoyaki, with some flavors only sold in particular areas of Japan (for instance, the Okonomiyaki flavor is only sold within Kansai). At just ¥10, it is a cheap snack, that due to its cylindrical shape, is also very easy to enjoy.
Black Thunder (ブラックサンダー) A chocolate-flavored cookie bar mixed with rice puffs and coated with chocolate, Black Thunder was the most popular choice for those looking for something sweet. As with most other Japanese candy, Black Thunder is not as sweet as those found in the United States/outside of Asia. Priced at just ¥30, it can be barely counted as a guilty pleasure.
Kaki no tane (柿の種) Composed of crescent-shaped senbei (rice cracker) fragments and peanuts, these are popular snacks to be consumed at bars, especially when paired with beer. The senbei portion of kaki no tane is commonly shoyu-flavored or spicy.
Kinoko no yama (きのこの山) With an adorable design and the perfect balance between its chocolate “mushroom top” and cookie “stem”, it is no wonder that kinoko no yama is a much-loved snack. While chocolate is its most common flavor, kinoko no yama can also be found in other flavors such as banana and green tea.
Pretz (プリッツ) A savory counterpart to the well-known Pocky, Pretz taste, as expected, similar to pretzels. Its bounty of flavor options, ranging from the traditional roast Pretz to even dumpling Pretz, make it possible for you to always be trying a new one. There are also regional varieties, such as eel pretz in Shizuoka, and mentaiko (salted cod roe) in Kyushu. Its kid’s size is a bit sweeter to appeal to children, while there are even double Pretz for those who want to try two different flavors within one stick.
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