Five Japanese sweet treats you'll find just about everywhere (that work great for souvenirs!)

One of the things that makes me most excited about visiting a new place is checking out their supermarkets or convenience stores for different candies and chocolate. I have a massive sweet tooth, and getting to try delicious treats from all over the world is a bunch of fun.
My quest to discover yummy snacks didn't end when I moved to Japan - there's so many fun things to try! There are certain products that you will see on just about every supermarket or convenience store shelf, which makes it easy to grab some to sample. Here are 5 of Japan's quintessential sweets that you should be able to find  with ease - they're all tasty and great to throw in your suitcase to give people back home (they'll love you for it!)

Pocky


Arguably the most well known of Japan's sweet treats, Pocky has stood the test of time (it's been around since 1966).  Part of Pocky's development was centered around the idea of having a chocolate snack that you could easily eat on the go - without ending up with chocolate all over your hands. With that, genius happened - the pretzel sticks are coated in chocolate, with a portion left bare to make it easy to hold. Zero mess and all of the tastiness!

A reason for Pocky's staying power could be that not only are they delicious and convenient to snack on, but they are constantly being released in new and interesting flavors. In my picture below you'll see that there are the typical chocolate and strawberry flavors, but also an almond crush variety, a coconut variety and an apple variety. Depending on the time of year that you visit, you're likely to find a bunch of limited edition seasonal flavors.

Koala's March Cookies (コアラのマーチ)



Made by Lotte, the product was first released in Japan back in 1984. They've been released in other countries too - including the US (but they go by the name Koala Yummies there!)

The Koala's March cookies are literally in the shape of a koala - and each cookie has a depiction of the koala doing different activities. The two main flavors that you'll just about always find are the good old faithful chocolate and strawberry kinds (they're the boxes you see in the picture below) - but again, seasonally you'll find variations. There was a banana version that I saw last year that were delish!


Kit Kats


Kit Kats have been a steady presence in Japan since 1973, and are another top seller (and favorite souvenir for people when they visit!)

Part of the massive appeal with Kit Kats in Japan is because the name sounds a lot like the Japanese phrase "Kitto Katsu" - which loosely translates to a good luck sentiment, or wishing that someone will succeed or do well. As a result they ended up being popular gifts - especially for students around exam time! 

There's a pretty astonishing number of Kit Kat flavors that have been created in Japan - we're talking over 300! They run the gamut from delicious sounding (blueberry cheesecake, creme brulee, cafe au lait) to the quirky (Japanese hot chili, cantaloupe, purple sweet potato), to the "who on Earth thought this would go well with chocolate?!" (soy sauce, miso soup, wasabi). Some of those more bizarre flavors can make for really fun souvenirs for your friends and family back home - people in my life have always loved the fun of trying the different variations. Just keep in mind that a lot of flavors only stick around for a certain period of time, so something you may be keen on trying might not be available anymore when you visit. 

You often find Kit Kats packed up in beautiful omiyage boxes too, ready for gift giving. If you're looking for a bunch of different flavors to try, the airports are great places to check - they usually have a large variety of them, particularly different prefectural specialties.


Kinoko no Yama


Kinoko no yama (きのこの山) are a delicious chocolate/biscuit made in a mushroom shape. The word Kinoko means "mushroom" and yama means "mountain". The chocolate kind pictured is the regular standard variety - but there are other varieties, including seasonal limited edition kinds that pop up throughout the year. The sister product to Kinoko no Yama is Takenoko no Sato - which are little cookies that look like bamboo shoots covered in chocolate. Most people will have a personal favorite of one over the other - I'm in the "both are delicious!" camp.
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Pai No Mi


This sweet treat has a flaky, puff pastry pie crust texture (64 layers of it!) with chocolate filling inside. Pai No Mi have been around in Japan since 1979, with the chocolate variety being the standard one you can find just about everywhere. They do have special regional variations such as banana custard in Tokyo, matcha in Kyoto, orange in Shizuoka and apple in Nagano - a bit like how Kit Kats have regional specialties that you can pick up on your travels!


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Enjoy your trip to Japan - and be sure to fill up your suitcase with some (if not all!) of these goodies!

Happy Snacking!


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