Japan is a snacky society. With people on the run to and from work at all hours or working overtime, getting a quick bite or a snack on the go is essential to making it through the day. Mei from THE DAYDREAMER DETECTIVE and THE DAYDREAMER DETECTIVE BRAVES THE WINTER is a big fan of fast foods and snacks from the convenience store, and I’m sure, if she had any spare cash, she’d stock up on all of these items!
1) Onigiri – this is a rice ball, usually stuffed with something savory like salmon, roe, vegetables, or seaweed. Usually these come wrapped in nori seaweed, making them easy to grab and eat on the go. (I like them grilled too. Yummy!)
2) Pocky – these sweet breadsticks dipped in chocolate, or many other flavored coatings like strawberry or coconut, come in a handy box and can be munched on with a beer. There’s a drinking game that uses Pocky too, if you’re daring enough to try it! https://gaijintonic.com/2008/12/15/japanese-drinking-games-no4-the-pocky-game/
3) Senbei – round rice crackers in various sizes and flavors, these snacks are favorites of every generation. They also make great gifts if you’re bringing stuff home from Japan because they keep for a long time.
4) Dorayaki – dorayaki are my favorite!! You can buy them on the streets and in stores, in various shapes and sizes, but the most common form is like two Western style pancakes with sweet red bean paste sandwiched between them. Delicious!
5) Dango – another popular street food, dango are glutinous rice ball dumplings similar to mochi, chewy and sweet, and served on a skewer, usually dipped in a sweet sauce. Sometimes they’re colored pink and green too, and you can find them in a variety of types including yaki dango (grilled) and anko dango (made with red bean paste).
6) Umaibo – this crunchy corn snack comes in a variety of flavors and makes another good on-the-go treat. It’s cylindrical and individually packaged so you can choose a few different varieties and never be without something tasty to eat. Popular flavors include teriyaki burger, takoyaki (fried octopus dumplings), and corn potage.
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7) Anpan – have you ever heard of Anpanman? This is a Japanese anime character whose head is an anpan, a round sweet bread usually stuffed with red bean paste (but can be stuffed with sesame or chestnuts too). “Pan”, Japanese bread, is popular all on its own but anpan especially is great because it’s easy to hold and eat one-handed.
8) Calbee Jagabee – Calbee is a big snack company that makes all types of potato chips but the Jagabee version of potato sticks are my favorite. I love all the different flavors they come in and the packaging that keeps them from getting crushed in my bag.
9) Kakigori – this is more of a summer time snack and I hope to have some when I’m in Japan in August. Perfect for a hot day, kakigori is a MOUNTAIN of shaved ice, topped with sweetened syrup in a variety of flavors, pretty much anything you can think of! Lemon, strawberry, matcha, chocolate. Some places add in fruit as well. A true summer treat!
10) Assorted Jellies – the Japanese love jellies in a variety of flavors. These are a lot like Jello in the States but a little thicker and uses a gelatin derived from seaweed, agar-agar, to make them (they do not taste like seaweed). This is also a popular summer treat because the jellies are cool and refreshing. Flavors range from fruits to almond jelly and even coffee jelly!
Hopefully you’ve found some interesting snacks you’d like to try! I plan to indulge in them all in just another month! :)