Best Japanese Snacks – Japan is a country well known for its colourful display of life; from bright rainbow neon-lit streets to eye-catching colourful festivals, visiting the country is like an attack on all the senses in the best way possible.
It’s no different with their food; in particular, their snacks. When you walk into any grocery store, look for where all the colourful packaging is and make a beeline for it – that’s where all the snack goodies are!
Japanese snacks have taken the world by storm over the past few years, popping up on shelves all over the world.
Like many of us around the world, the Japanese have all grown up with fond memories of such snacks as Pocky and Hi-Chew, both of which I’m sure you would have heard of by now. And if not, don’t worry, we’ll get well into it later!
What’s the reason why Japanese snacks in particular have caught the attention of people around the world? Could it be that their potato chips don’t always look like a regular potato chip? Maybe it’s because they boast flavours like matcha and takoyaki? We think: all of the above and more!
The 20 Best Japanese Snack You Should NOT Miss
If you want to join in on the hype but you’re not sure where to start (and with literally thousands of items barraging for your attention, who could blame you!), check our list below! We’ve compiled an extensive list of the 20 best Japanese snacks that we’re sure you’ll love.
- Choco Pie
- Kinoko no Yama
- Caramel Corn Chips
- Matcha Kit Kat
- Kaju Gummy
- Alfort Mini Chocolates
- Apollo Strawberry Chocolate
- Calbee Chips
- Kaki no Tane Rice Cracker
- Hinemaru Rice Crackers
- Natori JUSTPACK Fish Almonds
- Umaibo Corn Snacks
- Bakauke Senbei Crackers Pack
- Jagariko Potato Sticks
- Aerial Cheese Corn Snack
- Mike Popcorn
- Baby Star
For each snack, we included a link where you will be able to order the snacks online and enjoy them at home!
The brand Pocky is synonymous with Japan, it really is.
Since the mid-1900s, Pocky has undoubtedly become Japan’s most famous snack food, being a staple in all Japanese people’s childhood. Today, many people from around Asia can also thank Pocky for giving them happy memories, as it’s also one of the bestselling snacks!
What makes Pocky so delicious? After all, it’s simply a thin pretzel-like stick dipped in a coating of flavoured icing.
However, it’s the simplicity that makes it overwhelmingly addictive. It’s the perfect snack, crafted into perfection, from its size to its flavouring, to its widespread affordability. Everyone could and should eat Pocky!
The most popular flavour of pocky would arguably be either chocolate or strawberry, but if you’re ambitious, you could try cream cheese, pumpkin, tomato, and even Kobe wine!
Over the years, there have been more than 50 flavours of Pocky sold. However, much like many other snacks, the majority of these flavours are transient, coming and going as the seasons change. Others are flavours that are region-specific, such as powdered tea azuki bean in Kyoto.
2. Choco Pie
Of all the Japanese snacks, you find your eyes drawn to the Choco Pie packaging first. Decadent chocolate and vanilla cream cakes covered in a thick layer of chocolate printed on the outside of the package just screams “perfect afternoon snack!”.
They’re a great option for sharing as they’re individually packaged and are decent-sized as well!
Hi-Chew blasted into the market as chewing-gum textured sweets and have cemented themselves as the superior fruit-flavoured candy snacks.
Their smooth and bouncy texture not only appeals to kids; adults also find this perfectly sweet candy addictive, often finishing an entire block before they know it!
One of the biggest appeals about Hi-Chew is its flavour variety: strawberry, green apple, grape, mango, peach…there’s a flavour for everyone.
4. Kinoko no Yama
Visitors to Japan will 100% come across a pack of Kinoko no Yama at least once, either in convenient stores, supermarkets, or discount stores like Don Quijote.
These brightly coloured packages contain one of the most popular snacks amongst Japanese children. Think small biscuits, covered in a layer of chocolate, shaped like adorable little mushrooms. Very Japanese, very delicious!
Bonus: From Meiji (the manufacturers of Kinoko no Yama), also comes Takenoko no Sato, a similar version of the aforementioned chocolate covered mushrooms, but now in the shape of bamboo shoots!
5. Caramel Corn Chips
No, they’re not caramel flavoured popcorn. Yes, they actually taste like corn and caramel’s love child.
Caramel Corn Chips, distinguishable by their bright red and yellow packaging with eyes (as if it were a cute cat!), are a timeless Japanese snack. These corn puffs are U-shaped, feel super light to crunch on and just burst with flavour! Don’t forget the additional peanut pieces at the bottom of the bag – savour them with the remaining caramel corn dust.
6. Matcha Kit Kat
Who here has never had a kitkat? We’re hoping none of you have put your hand up!
However, just to be safe, imagine: thin layers of wafer, covered in a perfect coating of chocolate (or whichever flavour you’ve bought!) – the ultimate afternoon snack.
Whilst Kit Kats originated from overseas, the popularity of Matcha Kit Kat, a creation made in Japan, is absolutely enormous. And it’s not hard to see why!
Replacing the chocolate is a perfectly balanced sweet matcha coating, making the snack also a beautiful homage to the culture of Japan.
Matcha Kit Kats are not only an addictive sweet, they’re the perfect souvenir gifts for family and friends as well.
7. Kaju Gummy
Kaju Gummy candies are an interesting one: once you bite into it, you’ll feel a nostalgia, as though you’ve had it before, and yet we assure you that the super bouncy texture is completely unique.
Much like many other gummy candy, Kaju Gummy is a fantastic option for those who love the intense flavour and chewy experience of gummy sweets. However, Kaju Gummy boasts an even gummier (almost elastic!) experience, if you know what we’re saying!
It’s on the sweeter side of most Japanese candy, and comes in a variety of fruity flavours, with popular ones being orange, strawberry, and grape.
8. Alfort Mini Chocolates
Alfort Mini Chocolate is a hidden gem in our opinion! Whilst this is a super popular snack amongst the Japanese people, it hasn’t quite taken off around the world just yet, and we’re really not sure why.
Alfort Mini Chocolates are small, bite-sized biscuits, coated on one size with a generous layer of chocolate. They come in a small flat box, with a serving size perfect for sharing.
With similar taste to globally renowned biscuits such as Chocolate Scotch Fingers, it’s a snack that might appeal more to the older crowd, but we honestly think this snack would be a hit amongst everyone.
9. Apollo Strawberry Chocolate
These adorable conical shaped strawberry and chocolate flavoured sweets are a hit amongst the Japanese, and we’re sure you’ll enjoy it too!
These have been around for quite a while, and are a favourite amongst Japanese children. The packaging is adorably retro and eye-catching: a tall rectangular white box covered in bright red strawberry motifs.
10. Calbee Chips
Amongst the savoury snacks in Japan, Calbee Chips are arguably the most popular. Munching on these will ultimately give you nostalgia for crisps back at home (they are, after all, just potato chips), but there’s something about eating chips made in Japan that makes it different.
If you’re truly after a Japanese experience, we highly recommend grabbing a bag of the Seaweed and Salt flavour (with specks of nori sprinkled throughout), Pizza flavour (with actual pieces of cheese on individual chips), or the Mentaiko and Mayo flavour (spicy cod roe).
As part of their JPN2020 campaign, they even worked with each individual prefecture to develop region-specific flavours.
11. Kaki no Tane Rice Cracker
Kaki no Tane Rice Crackers are crescent-moon shaped rice crackers that come in an orange colour and are covered in a delicious soy flavour. They resemble persimmon seeds, which is what they’re name actually translates to!
The small snack-sized package that they come in also contains a great balance of peanuts, giving this snack an overall pleasant balance of texture and crunch.
It’s a great option for those who enjoy nutty flavours.
12. Hinemaru Rice Crackers
Created to look and taste similar to traditional senbei (Japanese rice crackers), Hinemaru Rice Crackers are deep-fried and coated in an umami-filled soy sauce coating. This produces a perfectly flavoured rice cracker that gives the most satisfying crunch!
These snacks are often eaten and shared amongst friends over some green tea or a light sake session. The packaging of this snack also stands out: a smattering of rice crackers encompassed by a top and bottom curtain of black, red and green.
13. Natori JUSTPACK Fish Almonds
Yep, you heard that right! JUSTPACK Fish Almonds is essentially a snack that contains tiny dried fish (sardines to be exact), perfectly paired with almonds. The contents are lightly coated in sugar, with the almonds coated in additional sesame seeds.
Amongst one of the most popular bar-style snacks, this snack pairs perfectly with beer. Whilst this might sound strange to some, it’s definitely a case of ‘don’t knock it before you try it’.
Note that this snack has quite a (unsurprisingly) strong fishy smell.
14. Umaibo Corn Snacks
Of all the brightly coloured, happy-cartoon packaged japanese snacks, Umaibo Corn Snacks just might be the most fun!
These corn snacks are often bought in large packages of individually wrapped snacks, each offering a different flavour. They’re large enough to warrant only one at a time, but small enough to leave you craving another one.
After a snack adventure? Grab a bag of these and try each one to guess what the flavour might be before reading it! From traditional pizza and cheese flavour, to teriyaki burger and shrimp, you’ll be guaranteed a good time.
15. Bakauke Senbei Crackers Pack
As lovers of all Japanese rice crackers, we’re being a little biased here. But when a family pack of different flavoured senbei rice crackers presents itself, what are you supposed to do except try them all at once, and then eat them all again?
The Bakauke Senbei Crackers originates from Niigata, a region known particularly for its premium rice production. This assortment pack is a highlight of five incredibly rich, distinct and addictive flavours: seaweed and soy sauce, corn soup, cheese, curry, and sesame soy sauce.
16. Jagariko Potato Sticks
Don’t be fooled by the packaging and the potato stick: Jagariko Potato Sticks are essentially a potato snack, and if you’re a potato chip lover, then get right on it!
These light and airy potato sticks are an absolute favourite amongst Japanese children: they come in a range of delicious flavours, their crunch is unique, and they’re packaged in a colourful cup (much like an instant noodle cup) – a treat for all the senses!
The most popular Jagariko Potato Sticks flavour might come as a surprise: it’s salad! With a bright green packaging and potatoes strewn across the front behind some speckled potato sticks, it’s this flavour with carrots and parsley pieces mixed in that’s really drawn the crowd.
17. Aerial Cheese Corn Snack
These weirdly shaped cheese corn snacks are exactly what you need when you’re opting out of popcorn or potato chips for a movie.
Shaped like a weird seashell with layers, these super crunchy and deliciously cheesey snacks have proven themselves to be highly addictive to anyone who’s tried them! They’re also quite light so you don’t feel bloated and heavy snacking on them, and are packed with flavour, with all layers being jammed with cheese seasoning.
If you’re looking for a savoury version of Pocky, Pretz are the perfect option!
Pretz are biscuit stick snacks that look similar to Pocky but without the additional flavoured sweet coating. Instead, they are generously seasoned with savoury flavours such as salad, tomato, pizza, cheese, and even potato!
Over the years, many flavours have come and gone, with other countries taking on this addictive snack and adding their own flair: think tom yum goong, larb, mapo tofu, and even maple syrup!
The satisfying crunch of these biscuit sticks are a must-try for all snack lovers.
19. Mike Popcorn
When we say that Mike Popcorn is addictive, we seriously mean it.
Popcorn has always been a snack that’s enjoyed by anyone and everyone world-wide. However, it’s no surprise that the Japanese have taken an already much-loved snack and made it even better!
Mike Popcorn is a light and airy bag of popcorn that comes in some crazy addictive flavours. The most popular flavour would be caramel but you can also find the butter and soy sauce flavour. This may sound a bit unusual if you’ve never had it before, but trust us, once you pop the bag, you just cannot stop. The saltiness of the butter somehow balances perfectly with the umami of the soy sauce.
They also offer flavours like milk tea, which we know would be a hit amongst many of you readers!
20. Baby Star
A Japanese snack in a packaging with an adorable little cartoon singing karaoke? Sign us up!
Baby Star is a delicious Japanese version of Mamee Noodles, the Malaysian noodle snack that took the world by storm in the 90s and is still a staple of many school kids’ lunch boxes.
Basically, if you love snacking on dried ramen noodles, then you’ll love Baby Star! Imagine a generous amount of thin, light and crunchy ramen noodles already seasoned with savoury flavours, ready to eat right from the bag.
This snack pairs oh-so-perfectly with a Japanese beer on a lazy afternoon.
Fun Fact: these snacks were actually created by mistake! In the 1950s, the founder of the manufacturing company decided to give excess instant noodles as snacks to his employees and unknowingly birthed a snack that’s now become part of the Japanese lifestyle.
Look, we’re not even going to tell you to try a few because all of these Japanese snacks listed are just too good not to be given a chance. The popularity of Japanese snacks has risen sky-high, and you don’t want to miss out whilst other people are enjoying these godly snacks! We say a weekend dedicated to trying all the ones you haven’t tried is definitely warranted.
Next time you’re out on a late-night Pocky run (we’ve all been there), remember to also grab a Pretz, Jagariko, Calbee, Caramel Corn…you get the drill.