Hands up if you have a sweet tooth! Since we definitely do, it’s no surprise that we’ve tried a variety of Japanese sweets over time and therefore know what we favour. Of course, everyone’s taste is different and to find your fav sweets, just try a bunch. But where to start in this sweet snack jungle? To give you an idea of which Japanese sweets are out there, here’s the list of our top 5, which funnily are the most famous sweets as well:
Probably stating the obvious here, but in our humble opinion, Pocky simply is the best Japanese sweet to exist. The composition of a crunchy biscuit or pretzel stick covered in Chocolate makes sure to deliver a sensory experience you have to try! Launched by Glico in 1966, Pocky sticks were originally fully coated in Chocolate, but after proving too messy to eat, it was decided to leave a small section at the bottom of the stick uncovered so you wouldn’t get choccy on your hands while eating. The name Pocky originates from the Japanese sound “Pokkin” for crunching into something. With a plethora of flavours, there’s something for everyone.
Extra tip: try the strawberry ones ;)
2. Japanese KitKat
Pretty sure you’ve heard of KitKat before. So what makes Japanese KitKat special, you ask? Their unique flavours! While Nestle is a swiss company, they launched exclusive flavours in Japan, like Matcha Green Tea and Sakura. Proving to be a massive hit, there are even limited-edition KitKats only sold at specific locations. The range of over 400 different kinds covers everything from traditional flavours like Chocolate to more extravagant ones like wasabi and sake. Another fun fact: KitKats are also recognized as a lucky charm in Japan because their name sounds like “KittoKatsu”, meaning you’ll definitely win. That’s why they’re often given to someone about to take an exam as a form of support.
Not a fan of crunchy sweets? Then you should try Mochi! It’s a soft sweet made of sticky rice traditionally prepared in a ritual called mochitsuki. In Japan, Mochi’s a popular food to eat on Japanese New Year, but it’s available all year round. The rice cakes are perfect as a snack and also prepared as ice cream for those of you who prefer a cooler sweet. Mochi snacks are produced in various flavours as well, from fruity ones to options like peanut and sesame.
4. Koala’s March
Here comes my favourite childhood sweet produced by Lotte: crunchy biscuits in koala shape filled with a delicious cream. They look as sweet as they taste in the most positive way, with each Koala having a different facial expression. Talk about eating with your eyes first! ;) March the Koala is the brand’s mascot and, according to their website lives in a small house near the forest and has many brothers and sisters in Australia. Does it get more kawaii than this? The connection to Down Under is further honoured by Lotte donating a portion of the profit from every Koala’s March purchased to the Australian Koala Foundation. You can get this yummy snack in different flavours like Chocolate and strawberry.
Another popular type of sweets in Japan is bread snacks. Well, that doesn’t sound very sweet, you may think, but Taiyaki, for example, is made of pancake dough. You may have seen it before since this snack is very memorable because of its fish shape. A special griddle is used to give it the look of a fish, complete with fins and scales. Taiyaki is filled with different stuffings ranging from the fruit over custard to red bean paste. You may wonder why a sweet is shaped like a fish, though, and the answer lies in a tradition. In Japan, the sea bream (Tai) is related to the word for congratulations (Omedetai) and eaten on ceremonial occasions to bring good luck. But because many people couldn’t afford sea bream, they made Taiyaki out of pancake dough which was cheaper but had the same meaning.
Which Japanese sweet would you like to try, or do you already have a favourite? Let us know in the comments below!
by Susan Miriam