Everyone I know is on some sort of diet or another. The low-carb high fat, part-time vegan, carnivore diets - and the list goes on. Just thinking about sugary goods and desserts is enough to make me salivate and any dieting thoughts fly out the window 🤤
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For this article, I have picked out a few snacks that can only be found in different areas of Japan that you absolutely HAVE to try. They would be ideal as souvenirs too! Ready to drool 🤤
P.S. Do note that not all listed products/food items are certified halal. For those that are not certified, we've checked the list of ingredients to affirm that the products do not contain alcohol nor gelatine. We advise readers to check with the sellers and to consume at their own discretion. Information of the halal certification and ingredients are accurate as of date of posting.
Most people have tried rice cake/crackers at least once before, right? If not, say hello to Okaki, made of glutinous rice that's polished, steamed, left to dry and baked/fried to delicious goodness. Sounds simple but the process to producing Okaki can take up to 1 week to complete (Japanese and their pursuit of perfection ?).
Head over to Hyobando, located behind Asakusa Kaminari-mon Gate and stock up on okaki or traditional Japanese rice crackers. Yummy flavours include seaweed, red pepper, wasabi and matcha 😍 Wasabi is hands down the best seller – no surprises there!
Credit: AJC - Ashita Japan Club - CLB Văn hóa Nhật Bản AJC on Facebook
Where to find them:
- Hyobando Asakusa Kaminarimon
- Laox Akihabara
- Narita Airport Terminal 2 - ANA FESTA
- Narita Airport Terminal 1 - OMOTASE-DOKORO
- Haneda Airport International Terminal - EDO
- Haneda Airport - ANA FESTA (after immigration)
#HHWT Tip: Don't be confused by okaki and senbei, though both are made from rice and both are crackers. The difference is that senbei is made from uruchimai, a non-glutinous rice. Texture wise, it would be different!
Credit: Nhật Bản Irasshai on Facebook
Ready for a fun story to accompany your meal? Once upon a time, an old woman went to the riverside to wash clothes. She then found a peach on the river. She took it home to show her husband. At home, she tried to cut the peach in half but suddenly, a boy came out! They called the boy Momotaro. Momotaro grew up strong, powerful, and kind. One day Momotaro heard about the ogres on Onigashima (Ogres' Island) and decided to fight them off. His parents prepared some millet dumplings for Momotaro to eat on his journey and saw him off.
To cut the story short, kibi-dango is the food that Momotaro took on his adventures. Cute eh? Explains a lot about the cute packaging too! The kibi-dango is individually wrapped and it’ll definitely make perfect souvenirs 😋
Credit:Enjoy Muslim Friendly Travel in West Japan on Facebook
Kibi basically means millet and the best thing is that the kibi-dango produced by Koeido Confectionary is certified halal!
#HHWT Tip:Kibi-dango from Koeido confectionary comes in a small package size of 10 pieces per packaging, up to the MEGA size. Previously it could only be purchased in Okayama (Chugoku region) or from their online shop - but now there's a satellite store in Tokyo which makes buying kibi-dango so much more convenient! Be sure to grab them if you visit Okayama or Tokyo! If you have to purchase from their online shop, get the friendly Japanese to help you out! ❤️
Where to find them:
Tottori-Okayama Shimbashi-kan (Tokyo branch)
Address: 1 Chome-11-7 Shinbashi, Minato City, Tokyo 105-0004
Opening hours: 10am to 9pm daily
3. Higashi (dry confectionery)
Credit: KYOTO DESIGN HOUSE on Facebook
You applied for a week's leave, left piles of paper work in hurry and have no clue of what to bring back for the boss? I would recommend to get him/her higashi. Higashi are pieces of gorgeous individually decorated sugar and rice-flour sweets!
Credit: Just Love Japan on Facebook
Have you tried the original powdered Japanese tea? (Not the store-bought tea bag sorts!) . The aftertaste is overwhelming, so higashi is the perfect sweet to offset the bitterness of the drink 😍
Credit: Tea Drop on Facebook
Higashi, like any other candy, is sold by many different brands with different levels of quality. However, if you're seeking for a higher quality higashi made purely from Wasanbon (Chinese sugarcane, with a different taste and umami compared to others that are made of ordinary sugarcane), we would recommend “Baiko-do” in Kagawa Prefecture. You can find Baiko-do in the Kagawa Prefecture and Setouchi Shunsai-kan (name of the store) in Tokyo, or even in malls throughout Japan.
#HHWT Tip: Higashi is dry and has very little moisture, making the shelf life of this sweet relatively longer. Stock up as this confection is rarely found outside Japan and is very pleasing to the eyes too.
Baiko-do in Tokyo (Kagawa・Ehime Setouchi Shunsaikan)
Opening hours: Open daily; 10AM-8PM
Address: 2-19-10 Shinbashi, Minato-ku, Tokyo
How to get there: 1 min walk from Ginza Exit of Shinbashi Station of JR Line No. 2 Exit of Shinbashi Station OR 3 min walk from Shinbashi Station OR 5 min walk from Shiodome Station
Opening Hours: Open daily; 9AM-7PM
Address: 140-4, Ōkawa, Hiketa, Higashikagawa-city, Kagawa Pref.
Yatsuhashi is one of the best known meibutsu (famous regional products) of Kyoto. Though it looks like a simple, unassuming snack, yatsuhashi is surprisingly tasty! You can have it either raw or baked. It's also made from super simple ingredients: glutinous rice flour, sugar and cinnamon!
Credit:Kaori Elie Ohmi on Facebook
The baked version will be somewhat similar to senbei (rice crackers). The raw version has a soft, chewy texture and is usually wrapped around anko (red bean) paste or other sweet fillings. Do you fancy apple pie or any other cinnamon based dessert? Then Yatsuhashi is definitely for you
#HHWT Tip: You can find many varieties all over Japan but if you're in Kyoto, go straight to the source and visit Izutsu Yatsuhashi Honkan in Gion, a yatsuhashi maker that's been in business since 1805.
Opening hours: Open daily; 11AM -6PM
Address: 310 Higashidaimonji-cho Teramachi-dori Shijo-agaru, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto, Japan;
How to get there: 2 mins walk from Keihan Gion Shijo Station
As you stroll along Nakamise, do look out for Kameya, which makes ningyo-yaki – tiny baked doll cakes stuffed with red bean! Plus, you get to watch them being baked. Definitely one of our favourite Japanese snacks 🤩
While you can find the doll cakes in moulds of pagodas and giant lanterns, adorably-shaped characters like Hello Kitty and Doraemon are also pretty common now 😍
6. Sata Andagi
Credit: Okinawa on Facebook
Most Japanese food are considered healthy with the abundance of seafood and dishes being heavy on the greens and soup. But here's a fun fact - did you know that the Japanese are in love with donuts? You can find them everywhere in Japan, even in the convenience stores!
Sata Andagi (also means deep-fried sugar) is Okinawa’s specialty donut. They are denser than those modern European style donuts which is crispy brown on the outside and cake-y inside. Again, the ingredients are fairly simple: flour, sugar & eggs 😁
#HHWT Tip: Sata Andagi recipes can also be found online, so if you want to whip up a snack, this is a good start.
Credit: Visit Okinawa my on Facebook
Sata Andagi mixes are sold commercially in malls so you can bring Okinawa donuts back home with you!
Price range: ¥1,000 per box **
P.S. The inhabitants of Okinawa reaches the ages 86 for women and 78 for men on average. Could Sata Andagi be one of their secrets? 🤪
7. Soba-boro cookie
Credit: Patricia AldabaLim on Facebook
Put your hands up if you're a cookie monster like me! Just like the name suggests, soba-boro cookies are made from soba (buckwheat) flour and lots of eggs. The texture of Soba-boro is crunchy yet simply melts in your mouth. YUMMY. The buckwheat flour gives a distinct earthy taste and the caramelised sugar...well, do I really need to describe the taste of caramel to you? 😋
As soba-boro is synonymously associated with Kyoto, there are many shops in Kyoto that sells them. If you're in Kyoto, be sure to check out Marutamachi Kawamichi-ya (丸太町かわらまち屋). In addition to soba boro, Kawaramachiya is also famous for their other soba confections such as soba manju.
Price range: ¥300 - ¥3,400++ **
Opening hours: Open daily; 8AM-9PM
Locations: There are a few stores in the Kyoto station area and you can also find it in a store called Miyako in Hotel Granvia Kyoto.
8. Light fluffy Chiffon Cake
Credit: 米粉のシフォンケーキ otaco on Facebook
Asakusa offers many tourist attractions from temples/shrines, shopping streets, river cruise and even an amusement park. Just a 15mins train ride from central Tokyo, you can explore the town by foot or hire a rickshaw (30mins ride for 2 people will cost around JPY 9,000).
Tired from all the walking and shopping? It's time to replenish those burnt calories with a scrumptious chiffon cake! This is no ordinary cake though, as Otaco is a bakery that specializes in making chiffon cakes using 100% domestic rice flour. They are made fresh daily and the cakes are made without any use of additives, antiseptics, preservatives, alcohol and animal components.
Credit:Rice flour chiffon cake otaco on Facebook
Otaco’s cakes are made with utmost care for quality, thus there are very strict ingredient selections. Their cakes are additive-free, low calorie (roughly over 5% calorie reduction compared to the regular flours) and gluten-free.
#HHWT Tip: Do note that the mocha-flavoured cake contains alcohol and the cakes are not produced in a separate factory, so do purchase at your own discretion. Due to the fresh ingredients, cakes from Otaco have a shelf life of only 2 days.
Price range: ¥1,000 - ¥3,000 ++ (You can opt for the 12 pieces type from random flavours or go ahead and get a whole cake!)
Opening hours: Open daily; 10.30AM-6PM (closed on Sundays & Mondays)
Address: 3-5-1 Asakusa, Taito-ku, Tokyo
How to get there: The store is located very near the Sensoji Temple (3 min. walk away) and an 8 min. walk away from Asakusa train station
This jelly-like treat is different from other mochis you've tasted, as the warabi actually comes from a wild plant! Available in many shapes and colours, its the best snack for summertime ☀️ Sweet, transparent and sticky - your warabimochi is not only pretty to look at, its tasty as well. Have it dipped in Kinako (soybean powder) or a sweet, sugary syrup for the perfect afternoon tea break or dessert 😍
Credit: Japan Centre on Facebook
While croquettes are known to contain meat, this "magic croquette" in Kyoto doesn't 😋 Using a veggie-inspired menu, no meat nor alcohol are used in the preparation techniques. Instead, they're made with potatoes and prove to be a magically, addictive snack!
Opening Hours: Open daily; 11AM-10.30PM
Address: 31, Sagatenryuji Tsukurimichicho, Ukyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto
How to get there: The nearest station is Shinjuku Station
11. Yaki Kani (Grilled crab)
You probably know by now that Japan's the king of seafood, right? It's no surprise that even their grilled crabs are out-of-this-world 😋 Home to the snow crabs, horsehair crabs and red-king crabs, Japan's famous for their fresh crabs. Enjoy the array of crab cuisines in winter, and the tastiness will drive you insane. Watch as the shell on the yaki kani turns crimson for your cue that the tender meat is ready to be savoured. Add a few drops of lemon onto your platter for that extra zing 😉
12. Sweet potato
This quaint sweet store in Asakusa is your go-to candy land! From sweet potatoes to red bean delights, find them all here 😉 What's interesting, the sweets are made using a century-old recipe and are absolutely additive-free!
Credit: Edo old sweets Asakusa plum sauce on Facebook
Did you know that the owners have never used a machine while preparing these? These purely handmade sweets are dipped in honey for two days, complementing the sweet taste of the potato. Lightly textured, fragrantly scented and deliciously sweet - your afternoon is now complete 😍
Address: Umegen, 1F, 3-10-5 Nishi-asakusa Taito-ku, Tokyo 111-0035
Opening Hours: 10.30AM-6.30PM daily (closed on Sundays and Mondays)
13. Daifuku mochi
Credit: 麺屋 帆のる 恵比寿店 HALAL Ramen & Dining Honolu on Facebook
Daifuku mochi is definitely one of the most famous Japanese snacks out there, consisting of a rice flour mochi stuffed with a creamy and sweet filling. The most common fillings are a red bean paste called anko or fruits such as strawberries, but more modernized versions have quirkier options such as ice cream or custard 😍
While you can find daifuku mochi almost everywhere in Japan, not all of them are okay to consume as their filling may contain alcohol. Thankfully if you're staying in Tokyo, you can head over to Honolu Ebisu for their 3 brand-new daifuku mochi flavours: strawberry cream, matcha cream, and sweet bean paste!
If you happen to be in Yokohama, you can also visit SARIO Heichinsaryoo's China Town branch, which sells halal-certified mochi in 4 flavours: Matcha, Strawberry, Cafe au lait, and Mango. The branch also provides a halal menu as well as prayer space!
Honolu Ebisu (Tokyo)
Address: 1 Chome-23-1 Ebisuminami, Shibuya, Tokyo 150-0022, Japan
Opening hours: Open daily; 11.30AM-2:30PM, 5PM-8.30PM
SARIO Heichinsaryoo China Town (Yokohama)
Address: 143 Yamashitachō, Naka-ku, Yokohama, Kanagawa 231-0023, Japan
Opening hours: 11AM-8PM (Mon-Fri), 11AM-9PM (Sat-Sun)
14. Beni imo tart
Credit: @shin_ogawamachi on Instagram
Beni imo (red yam) tarts are one of Okinawa's most famous snacks and treats, and now there's a halal version out there for Muslim travellers to try!
The halal version comes courtesy of Okashigoten, which is one of the most well-known producers of beniimo tarts. Only the beniimo tarts at Okashigoten's Kokusaidori Matsuo outlet have been halal-certified, as they are made in a factory that does not handle pork or alcohol. The boxes for the halal and non-halal beniimo tarts look exactly the same, except halal tarts have been marked out with the appropriate halal logo, so keep your eyes peeled for them!
P.S. The Kokusaidori Matsuo outlet also sells other products and snacks by Okashigoten but do note that we have not been able to confirm the Muslim-friendly status for anything apart from these tarts.
Opening hours: Open daily; 9AM-10PM (August & September; 9AM-10.30PM daily)
Address: 1 Chome-2-5 Matsuo, Naha, Okinawa 900-0014, Japan
Credit: @kaminariokoshitokiwado on Instagram
Kaminariokoshi is a traditional type of rice puff that can come in various flavours. One store in Asakusa - Tokiwado Kaminari-okoshi Honpo - is actually famous for making these small snacks in a range of sweet and even savoury flavours.
Best of all, the Japan Halal Foundation (JHF) declared some of the shop's products halal in 2018! Individual products that are halal have JHF's logo displayed next to them, so you'll be reassured that the one you're buying is good to go. If you're still unsure, you can ask the friendly staff 😌
Credit: @amanda_tamiko on Instagram
There's a huge variety of puffs in varying sizes, shapes, and flavours, and yes, there are samples available to try too 😌 As an added bonus, the store is right next to the famous Kaminarimon gate that leads to Sensoji-shrine, making this the perfect spot to drop by for some souvenir shopping after catching one of Tokyo's most famous attractions!
#HHWT Tip: Make sure to check if the puffs come individually wrapped if you're planning to keep them for a while. Rice puffs can go stale pretty quickly, and some of the puffs will need to be transferred into an airtight container to make sure they're kept crunchy and delicious.
Opening hours: Open daily; 10AM-6:30PM
Address: 1-chōme-3-2 Asakusa, Taito City, Tōkyō-to 111-0032, Japan
16. Momiji Manju
Credit: @chiara_hmomo on Instagram
Known as Hiroshima's most popular souvenir, this maple-leafed-shape cake is a sweet treat you're going to want to buy before your Japan journey comes to an end.
Credit: Food Diversity. today
Traditionally filled with mashed Azuki bean paste, the momiji manju is also made using variations of flavours such as cream cheese, custard cheese, green tea and chocolate! So, make sure to check this Japanese snack off your list if you want that perfect bite for your afternoon tea.
Hiroshima Brand Shop TAU, Tokyo
Opening hours: Open daily; 10.30AM-7PM
Address: Japan, 〒104-0061 Tokyo, Chuo City, Ginza, 1 Chome−6−10 銀座上一ビルディング
Fujiiya Miyajima Honten, Hiroshima
Opening hours: Open daily; 9AM-5PM
Address: 1129 Miyajimacho, Hatsukaichi, Hiroshima 739-0588, Japan
17. Green Tea Baumkuchen
Although it's origins may come from Germany, the green tea baumkuchen is a widely popular snack and dessert in Japan. Consisting of concentric circles that resemble a tree trunk, this cake makes for a pleasing visual for any Instagram feed. Once that snapshot's been taken, take a bite into the heavenly flavours of earthly green tea and fresh taste of cream.
Credit: @jennikims on Instagram
Without being overly sweet, this cake can be enjoyed after a meal or to be perfectly honest, entirely on its own. Whichever you choose, Japan's take on the baumkuchen will surely find a special place in your heart (or your stomach ?).
Japanese Restaurant Matsuri
Opening hours: Mon-Tues, Fri (5PM-8.30PM), Sat-Sun (11AM-2PM, 5PM-8.30PM), closed on Wed-Thurs
Address: 3-27-17 Yoshino, Fukushima-ku, Osaka-shi, Osaka
18. Muso Castella Cake
Credit: MUSO halal
Hailing all the way from Portugal, the castella sponge cake is a popular snack that makes for an equally popular Japanese souvenir. Now a specialty of Nagasaki, keep an eye out for the halal-certified castella cake from Muso castella in order to experience a fluffy treat that is full of flavour.
19. Toshimaya Hato Sable
This is the iconic souvenir of Kanagawa prefecture which has been sold for over 100 years! The cute dove shaped cookie was first produced in Meiji period in early 1900’s when the owner of Toshimaya got inspired by the cookie introduced by a tourist. Then, he decided to make it in a shape of Kamakura’s symbolic bird, the dove! The sablee has simple flavour from its basic ingredients of flour, butter, eggs, and sugar without artificial flavour! 😍If Kanagawa isn't in your itinerary for now, you can find these adorable cookies at Tokyo Station or Haneda Airport!
Opening hours: 9am-7pm (open daily except Wednesdays)
Address: 2–11–19 Komachi, Kamakura, Kanagawa
20. Arima Hokodo
Credit: Arima's Official Shoppee page
If you need more assistance in determining the halal status of other Japanese snacks not mentioned on this list, make sure to clear your doubts! One person we recommend you to ask is Mr Yoshito Arima, who helps break down the ingredient list behind your favourite Japanese snacks! We did a feature on him recently, so check it out here! And guess what if the last name rings a bell, Mr Yoshito is the director behind Kobe's most popular snacks and nuts store, Arima HOKODO! The fourth-generation owner serves up the first halal-certified nuts which are healthy too! Plus, it's super snacky, so you'll be finishing it up in no time 🤤
Where to buy:
Arima Food Lab on Shopee (Malaysia)
Arima Food Lab on Shopee (Singapore)
There you go folks! Hopefully, the list will be useful during your visit in Japan, and your friends and family will thank us for it 😊(Or if you have any friends or family visiting Japan, you know what to show them!). So, enjoy the sweet treats and you can always go on a diet tomorrow 🤭 Sayonara!
**Prices are just estimations and may differ depending on brand or where you buy them.