Is Tokyo Banana Muslim-Friendly? - Here’s What Muslim Travellers To Japan Need To Know


Faruq Senin •  Oct 27, 2023

Besides the fascination with Japanese culture and mouthwatering Japanese cuisine, some of the things that we love about Japan are its snacks. Not only are they yummy but they are often perfectly packaged, making them great souvenirs!

[P.S. Plan your Japan trip with this 7D6N Muslim-friendly Tokyo-Osaka-Kyoto itinerary!]

One of the snacks that are hugely popular is Tokyo Banana. You might have seen many travellers stocking up on boxes of Tokyo Banana at the airport. But wait a minute, before you start getting your hands on them (it's tempting, we know), there's one question that you might ask yourself - "Is it halal?" Well, to save you the trouble, we've prepared this guide to answer all your questions about Tokyo Banana and its associated products.

What is Tokyo Banana?

For the uninitiated, Tokyo Banana or 東京ばな奈 is a type of Japanese sponge cake manufactured by Grapestone Co. Since it started being sold in stores in 1991, it's become one of the must-buy snacks from Japan. What many travellers are attracted to is the cream inside the cake which is made using strained banana puree and the soft texture of the cake. Tokyo Banana is mostly found in the snack shops at Japanese airports and at major souvenir shops in Tokyo.

[P.S. Travelling to Tokyo? Make sure you check out our ultimate list of halal Japanese food in Tokyo!]

Are Tokyo Banana products halal?

Besides the Tokyo Banana Original Flavour (pictured above) which is most widely known, there are also many other variants and products from the same company. Whether or not they are halal varies between products. Unfortunately, the Tokyo Banana Original Flavour is not halal as it contains gelatine from bovine (cow) and a small percentage of alcohol. If you look at the ingredients list on the packaging, you'd most likely be able to spot this - ゼラチン (gelatine) and this - 洋酒 (liquor).

#HHWT Tip: As a rule of thumb, do avoid the items filled with cream/custard as they are most likely to have gelatine and/or liquor.

Here's a list of products that contain gelatine and/or alcohol (complete with pictures!):

P.S. Scroll down for a list of Muslim-friendly products!

1. Tokyo Banana (Original Flavour)

2. Tokyo Banana (Honey Flavour)

Credit: @princesspinky89 on Instagram

3. Tokyo Banana Racco (Coffee Milk Flavour)

4. Tokyo Banana Raisin Sandwich Cookies

Products without alcohol and gelatine but have unverified ingredients:

Note: These Tokyo Banana products do not contain alcohol or gelatine but we can’t verify the source of the refinement modified fat either. Do purchase them at your own discretion!

1. Tokyo Banana Pie

At first glance, the Tokyo Banana Pie might not look like much except for the fact that it reminds you of banana fruit. But this puff pastry cookie actually consists of butter pastry dough and banana biscuit dough which pairs perfectly well together. With each bite of this delicate and flaky pie, you'll be able to taste the rich flavours of butter and banana.

Note: This Tokyo Banana product does not contain alcohol or gelatine but we can’t verify the source of the refinement modified fat either. Do purchase them at your own discretion!

2. Ginza Sweet Heart Tree langue de chat Cookie Strawberry "Syally Mate"

This milk chocolate cookie reminds you of the Strawberry Cake from Ginza as it looks just the same except that it's in cookie form. The crispy thin cookies and the strawberry chocolate will melt in your mouth. Some travellers have even compared the taste to Strawberry Pocky!

Note: This Tokyo Banana product does not contain alcohol or gelatine but we can’t verify the source of the refinement modified fat either. Do purchase them at your own discretion!

3. Tokyo Banana Gaufrette

If cookies are not for you, then try these Tokyo Banana Gaufrettes instead! They are crispy wafers with sweet banana cream and they are really huge too, around the size of your palm. These gaufrettes come in two fillings - banana and chocolate banana cream - but both are sure to delight your taste buds!

Note: This Tokyo Banana product does not contain alcohol or gelatine but we can’t verify the source of the refinement modified fat either. Do purchase them at your own discretion!

Muslim-friendly products

The following products are alcohol and gelatine-free and we've checked to the best of our ability that they don't contain any animal derivatives. But as they are not officially halal-certified, we advise you to buy them at your own discretion!

Disclaimer: Do note that we are not a certifying body and that the information we have derived is from checking the ingredients on Tokyo Banana's official website and from multiple sources online.

P.S. You can also head over to the official Tokyo Banana product list on their website to read the list of ingredients for each product.

1. Tokyo Banana Castella Cake

Shaped like a banana and topped with sugar, the Tokyo Banana Castella Cake is a soft and fluffy sponge cake that has subtle hints of banana flavour.

Price: JPY648 (4 pcs), JPY1134 (8 pcs), JPY1728 (12 pcs)

2. Tokyo Banana Castella Cake (Maple Flavour)

Credit: Umi Chan on Facebook

This version of the castella cake is maple-flavoured and only exclusive to Haneda Airport, so if you're flying via the airport, it's a must-buy! Not only will you taste the banana flavour, but the maple flavour will enhance the taste of the castella cake.

Price: JPY702 (4 pcs), JPY1188 (8 pcs), JPY1782 (12 pcs)

3. The Strawberry Cake from Ginza

For those of you who are not a fan of bananas, perhaps this might excite you more instead! This fluffy sponge cake is filled with rich strawberry jam and cream. As you'd expect, they are shaped like strawberries too and every bite will leave you with strawberry goodness.

Price: JPY560 (4 pcs), JPY1080 (8 pcs), JPY1620 (12 pcs)

4. Almond Caramel Sand

The cookie has a crunchy almond-flavoured outer layer and a sweet filling consisting of chopped nuts and a caramel-almond paste. This is the first 100% plant-based food souvenir of the Tokyo Banana series! Besides being vegan, vegetarian and Muslim-friendly, it's also suitable for those who have egg and dairy allergies.

Price: From JPY1,296 (Box of 8 pcs) As you can see, even as the Tokyo Banana sponge cakes aren't halal, there are other awesome Muslim-friendly snacks that you can bring home for your loved ones as souvenirs! But as these snacks aren't officially halal-certified, we advise you to do the necessary checks and purchase them at your own discretion.

If you're planning to check the ingredients list of a particular item in Japan, we recommend using Google Translate's camera function - all you need is to take a photo of the ingredients list and it will automatically translate it for you. Though this isn't 100% accurate, you'd still be able to spot some key ingredients like whether there's gelatine or alcohol. Alternatively, you can also ask the staff from the shop the following questions:

Does this product have alcohol? この商品にはアルコールが入っていますか。 Kono shōhin ni wa arukōru ga haitte imasu ka

Does this product have gelatine? この商品はゼラチンを含んでいますか。 Kono shōhin wa zerachin o fukunde imasu ka

Does this product have animal derivatives? これは動物由来の材料を含んでいますか。 Kore wa dōbutsu yurai no zairyō o fukunde imasu ka

With that, we hope this guide will be useful when you are shopping for snacks and souvenirs in Japan! Do let us know in the comments section what other Japanese snacks you'd like us to talk about and SHARE this information with fellow Muslim travellers.

P.S. Thinking about what other snacks you can buy? Check out our guide to 15 Muslim-friendly snacks you can get from Japan!