1. Tokyo Banana
The original Tokyo Banana offering: a banana pastry filled with banana cream.
For the inner cat in you, Tokyo Banana makes a “Gaoo” (roar) variety. This particular one is tiger-printed with caramel filling.
As the name suggests, Tokyo Banana sells banana-shaped pastries filled (usually) with banana cream. What you might not expect, however, are the bananas printed with animal patterns–think giraffe, leopard and tiger–with fillings such as caramel and chocolate. Not only are these bananas soft to the touch, their wrappers are adorned with bright bows and their most recent campaign includes a Tokyo Banana headphone jack which, as you might have guessed, is also wearing a bow.
2. Hato Sabure
The Hato Sabure logo is simply a dove on a yellow background, though it is instantly known throughout Japan.
Hato Sabure are the image cookies of Kamakura, one of Japan’s top tourist destinations and home to a Daibutsu (giant Buddha). “Hato Sabure” literally translates to “dove shortbread,” which is exactly what the cookies are: dove-shaped shortbreads. They have no remarkable taste, but their unbroken figures are perfectly displayed in clear wrappers and make for good gifts.
Each Pyorin costs ¥300, although it can only be purchased in Nagoya.
Pyorin are a local specialty of Aichi prefecture, where Nagoya, Japan’s 4th-largest city is located. They began selling in 2011 as a tiny, sweet model of the kochin chicken native to Aichi and consists of a sponge cake covered in vanilla mousse. It became so popular that it won a local specialty award in the prefecture. The best part about it, of course, is that it looks the way it does.
Mochicream is a dessert brand that combines mochi and cream to create what may possibly be some of the cutest spherical treats, ever. While they have several stores across Japan, they also have branches located internationally, and you can even order online. Their latest offering, called Mochido, are mochi-cream donuts that come in just as many flavors.
Both the Mochicream and Mochido varieties are available in gift sets.
5. Kinoko no Yama
All varieties of Kinoko no Yama open from the top, which makes it easy to share–or keep for yourself.
Kinoko no Yama, or Mushroom Mountain, are chocolate-covered biscuits shaped like mushrooms. Those are the most popular variety of the snack, but the line also produces Takenoko no Yama, or Bamboo Shoot Mountain, which are the same concept but shaped like bamboo shoots. There are also several flavors of the mushrooms and bamboo shoots, ranging from strawberry to green tea to dark chocolate. Luckily they can be found in almost any convenience store or supermarket, and the package opens easily for sharing.
One of the most popular flavors of Jagariko is the salad flavor.
Jagariko snacks are a staple of convenience stores and supermarkets and are the near-equiavalent to potato sticks, except about ten times tastier. The sticks come in a paper can and the flavors are easily differentiated by the color of the package: green for salad, pink for tarako mayonnaise, blue for original and so on. The brand is easily spotted among other potato stick snacks because of its mascot, the Jagariko giraffe.
While it’s easiest to eat the Jagariko straigh from the can, laying it out on a plate works just as well.