Your Guide to Japanese Bakeries

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Japan is known for taking things from other cultures, making it their own, and perfecting it.  Bakeries are one outstanding example.  As you will invariably pass by one or many during the course of your travels, I wanted to offer you a quick guide to Japanese bakeries.  Here we go, starting with...

How to Shop:

Most bakeries I have visited back in the states have you order at a counter.  In Japan, you grab a tray and go for it!  Once you have your selection, just take it up to the counter and pay.  It's that simple.

Types of Baked Goods:

Japanese bakeries typically offer a wide variety of baked goods.  Of course, the staples like sandwich bread and loafs of white, wheat, and rye bread are ever-present, but there a number of other options that you might not expect, such as...

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Japanese Bakeries will rarely offer cold pastries, but their dry pastries are something to behold.  In this picture alone are blueberry muffins, Mont Blanc Danish, Matcha Cake, Lemon Cake, Chocolate Danishes, and Scones.

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I single out Anpan for two reasons: (1) Anpanman is such an important pop culture icon, and he was born from this simple bread filled with koshi-an (bean paste); and (2) it is something I have not seen outside of Japan.  Some might be put off by the fact that it is filled with bean paste, but it actually makes a great mid-morning or late afternoon pick-me up--enough carbs to keep you energized and just enough sweetness to kick any sugar cravings.

Character Goods

Some bakeries offer unique character-themed products.  I have seen Anpan man, Doraemon, Pokémon, and (as pictured) Totoro!

Savory breads

There are a range of savory options at most bakeries.  Pictured is cheese bread with bacon.  There are also pizza breads, sausage bread, and myriad others.


Some bakeries will offer sandwiches.  The options will usually be limited (it is a bakery, not a deli, after all), but it makes for a great alternative to fast food if you have to eat on the run.

So there you have it--a quick guide to Japanese bakeries.  I hope that you'll take a few minutes to pop into one during your travels!

Mike B