Best Japanese Snacks and Candies
There’s no denying the global popularity of Japanese snacks, led primarily by a combination of quirkiness and unusual flavor pairings. With an dizzingying assortment of Japanese candy, chips, chocolate, and other nibbles available on the market, you might be unsure where to start, so we’ve taken out the guesswork for you. We present 25 of the most popular Japanese snacks divided into five categories: sweet, savory, healthy, classic, and kids.
Sweet Japanese Snacks
1. Morinaga Caramel
Caramel, a western treat that arrived in Japan in the Meiji era (late 19th century), was first manufactured and sold in Japan by Morinaga in 1913. More than a century later, this easily recognizable yellow box of individually wrapped sweets continues to be the best-selling brand of Japanaese candy. While Morinaga has since released flavors such as azuki (red beans), matcha, and even yogurt, these chewy, milky delights are a favorite across generations.
2. Matcha KitKat
Did you know that Nestlé has produced more than 300 KitKat flavor combinations for the Japanese market? However, the most popular Japanese chocolate flavor is matcha, finely powdered green tea. In fact, 14 different kinds of matcha KitKat have been released! We recommend this version from its mature version. The subtle taste of matcha balanced with a delicate sweetness will keep you coming back for more.
3. Kinoko no Yama
Kinoko no Yama and its rival snack, Takenoko no Sato, take chocolate covered biscuits to a new level. Both sold by Meiji, Japan’s number one chocolate manufacturer, these snacks have transformed the humble mushroom and hearty bamboo shoot into snacks that frequently battle for the public’s love in creative ad campaigns.
Kinoko no Yama, the cute mushroom-shaped treat, have a smooth, cookie stem similar in texture to Pocky. They are topped with a generous chocolate cap, allowing the biscuit and chocolate to be savored separately or consumed in one bite.
4. Takenoko no Sato
If you opt to try Kinoko no Yama, do yourself a favor and try its rival, Takenoko no Sato. Unlike Kinoko no Yama, whose chocolate and biscuit can be enjoyed separately, these petite bamboo shoots are generously covered in chocolate. Moreover, dedicated fans of Takenoko no Sato insist that the texture of the cookie is different than that of its mushroom-shaped counterpart. There’s only one way to find out, and that’s with a taste test!
5. Strawberry Pocky
A cult hit that’s almost 45 years old, Glico’s Pocky is practically a gateway to other Japanese snacks due to its availability in overseas markets, where it may be sold under a variety of names. Each slender pretzel-like Pocky stick is dipped in a light coating of flavored chocolate and packaged in a cardboard box. Strawberry Pocky was released 10 years after Pocky first debuted in Japan and remains a best-selling flavor. There’s something irresistible about the harmony of crunch and smooth chocolate.
Savory Japanese Snacks
6. Wasabi Beef Chips
When you’re craving something savory, crips are often the first item that hungry hands reach for. Satisfy yourself with a bag of wasabi beef chips, inspired by roast beef topped with horseradish. Let the kick of wasabi fill your nostrils as you relish the hearty meaty flavor filled with umami.
7. Seaweed Salt Chips
Norishio, or seaweed and salt, are perhaps one of Japan’s best-selling flavors of chips. As a matter of fact, these chips from Calbee are a Japan’s number one seaweed-flavored snack. Each crisp is coated with lightly salted chips accented with seaweed flakes. These crips are perfect for movie night but be warned — you’ll need more than one bag to make it through to the end!
8. Aerial Cheese Corn Snack
If you’re looking to try something quirky, these pyramid-shaped, crunchy cheesy bites from Nabisco should do the trick! Aerial are cheesy, crunchy, and light corn snacks that don’t hold back when it comes to flavor. The cheddar cheese coating is woven into each of the snack’s four layers, releasing bold flavor as you chew.
9. Jagariko Sticks
A fun way to satisfy your urge to munch, Jagariko are sure to become one of your favorite Japanese snacks! Packaged in a colorful cup and sealed with a foil lid, Jagariko are crunchy potato sticks with a soft core. As with many popular Japanese snack creations, Jagariko are available in limited edition, seasonal flavors. However, its most popular release is Salad, flavored with specks of carrots and parsley.
10. Jagabee Potato Sticks
Jagabee, another potato stick creation from crisps manufacturer Calbee, have a completely different texture than Jagariko and closely resemble fries. Unlike Jagariko, both the outer shell and inside of Jagabee are extra crunchy. Nevertheless, whether you’re #teamjagariko or #teamjagabee, there’s now denying how satisfying these snacks are!
Healthy Japanese Snacks
11. Hoshiume Dried Plums
The fragrant Japanese plum (or apricot as it is occasionally called), is associated with spring as they are plum blossom are among the first flowers to bloom in late winter. As the fruit is rather sour, and it is often processed before consumption. While one common form is umeboshi, a pickled plum often paired with white rice, hoshiume are slightly sweeter dried pickled plums. What’s more, they are seedless, making them a perfect snackin option. These hoshiume even come in a resealable bag so you can snack on the go.
12. Almonds and Dried Fish
These tiny intact fish (sardines, to be exact) and almonds may not be what you’re used to when you’re craving something to munch on. But, if you‘re looking for healthy snack options, almond fish as they are commonly packaged in Japan, are worth trying. Slight sweet and coated in sesame seeds, almond fish often accompany alcoholic drinks. This unlikely Japanese snack combination is both moreish and rich in protein, calcium, and vitamin E.
13. Seaweed Strips
You’ll find various types of seaweed in Japanese cuisine. But one form of seaweed that makes an excellent healthy snack is nori, dried sheets of seaweed. While nori goes great with rice, their lightweight and crip texture paired with generous flavoring make them a great low-carb snack alternative to crisps or when you crave something salty.
14. Soft Senbei
Senbei, hard rice crackers seasoned with soy sauce are a centuries-old treat in Japan often sold right off the grill at roadside stalls. Did we mention that they’re hard, as in tough as nails? Enter the soft senbei, like these Salad Senbei. These rice crackers break apart with ease, and their light flavoring, seasoned with oil and salt from Okinawa, add to their softness. Soft salad senbei come packaged in pairs, but you may find it difficult to stop at one pack!
15. Konjac Jerky
Konjac, devil’s tongue, makes frequent appearances in Japan as a diet food due to its low calorie count and feeling of fullness after consumption. Free of additives and artificial flavoring, these strips of beef flavored konjac jerky contain only 24 calories per serving, making them an excellent choice for health-minded individuals.
Classic Japanese Snacks
16. Himemaru Rice Crackers
Unlike traditional hard senbei which are essentially grilled rice cakes, age senbei are deep fried, wonderfully crunchy, and flavored with a rich soy sauce coating. Sure, the carb and fat intake might make you wince, but they are very delicious and pair well will green tea or an alcoholic beverage. The tricolor packaging references the colors of a curtain at a kabuki performance hall, making them an easily identifiable snack.
17. Konpeito Sugar Candy
An charming sweet that’s sure to delight the senses, konpeito are tiny, colorful star-shaped pieces of rock candy that have a unique spot in Japanese history and culture. First introduced to Japan in the 16th century by Portuguese missionaries, nowadays konpeito can be found in a rainbow of colors and flavors, too.
18. Ramune Soda Candy
Ramune is a carbonated drink associated with childhood, yukatas, and attending summer festivals on sweltering summer day. What makes these ramune candies so loved is the feeling of nostalgia that they evoke 40 years after their debut. The package is a faithful recreation of a ramune soda bottle, and the drink’s signature lemon-lime fizziness and powdery texture melts almost instantaneously in your mouth.
19. Apollo Strawberry Chocolate
Apollo Chocolates are a retro Japanese candy treat that combine strawberry and chocolate, two satisfying flavors. The quirky pocket-sized box decked out in strawberries will transport you to the 1960s. Even the name, Apollo, and conical space capsules chocolates are a nod to the Space Age. These sweet delights will no doubt join the rank of timeless Japanese sweets in decades to come.
20. Kaki no Tane Rice Cracker
A snack so simple, and yet so bold and flavorful, Kaki no Tane are crescent-shaped rice crackers that resemble persimmon seeds. Each packet also contains a hearty amount of peanuts, resulting in a crunchy treat that blends textures and seasonings.
Japanese Snacks for Kids
21. Umaibo Variety Pack
Kids can be incredibly hard to please, but you might be able to curb their restlessness with this assortment of 20 individually wrapped puffed corn snacks called Umaibo. Younger kids will enjoy flavors like pizza, corn, and cheese while older kids may appreciate the adventure in trying unique flavors like teriyaki burger, takoyaki (grilled octopus balls), and shrimp.
A smooth, taffy-like chewy Japanese candy that has the consistency of chewing gum, Hi-Chew are fruit-flavored delights that Japanese children love. Each pack of candies fits nicely in a pocket, backpack or lunchbox and can be enjoyed at any time as the chews are individually wrapped. The fruit Hi Chews taste remarkably like the real deal and these are sure to be a hit in your home
23. Happy Turn Rice Cakes
A crisp rice cracker coated with a generous dusting of an addictive sweet and salty soy sauce based powder, Happy Turn are a snack you’ll want to keep stocked in your pantry. While the powdered coating make these a rather messy snack, there’s no denying that kids can’t get enough of its signature taste!
24. Caramel Corn Chips
A timeless treat parents and kids love, Tohato Caramel Corn Chips are curled corn puffs that are crispy, light, and oh-so-sweet. The peanut pieces usually make their way to the bottom of the bag, where they can be savored with the remaining caramel corn dust.
25. Bakauke Senbei Pack
An assortment of rice crackers that the entire family is sure to love, Bakauke rice crackers hail from Niigata Prefecture on the Sea of Japan coast, an area famed for its rice production. This assortment of 40 senbei feature five irresistible flavors and two different textures: the light and airy seaweed and soy sauce, corn soup, cheese, curry crackers; and deep-fried and crunchy sesame soy sauce crackers.
Credit to: Japan Objects