10 Best Food Souvenirs From Japan: Snacks To Bring Back

By Hattie Richardson
Updated: May 15, 2024

While we live in the digital age, and the folks back home can now enjoy our pictures and posts from our travels in real-time, there is still something to be said of the joy that souvenirs can bring. Watching a loved one’s face break into a big smile as they open your carefully thought-out gift and explaining the story behind it can’t be replaced by a social media story!

But what to get them? Japan, with its claim to fame in the field of food, pop culture, and tradition, can make this quite the quandary! Additionally, if you’re taking your treasures home on an international flight, there will, of course, be weight limitations imposed on you by your airline, not to mention international regulations on the goods you can and cannot bring into or out of the country.

But fear not – here is a handy list of fifteen suitcase-friendly souvenirs to bring a little slice of Japan home with you!

Want a taste of Japan before your trip? Check out our Gourmet Market, where you can purchase delicious Japanese snacks, tea, or a curated box of Japanese pantry staples! Everything delivered straight to your door.

1. Anything matcha-flavored


As you may already know, matcha is a common flavor in Japan. Anything sweet and green tea-flavored will surely be a hit with relatives! There’s no shortage of green tea goodies, either, and the best part is that you can find the vast majority of them for affordable prices at local supermarkets and convenience stores. So keep your eyes peeled on your travels for matcha chocolate, matcha cookies, matcha daifuku, and the ever-popular matcha Kit Kats. 

2. Regional or seasonal Kit Kats

A dozen original Kit Kat flavors from Japan

Ever tried strawberry cheesecake Kit Kats? How about melon? Or even wasabi? Every region in Japan has its own unusual Kit Kat flavor, and there are often limited edition flavors sold throughout Japan’s vibrant seasons. Sakura-flavored Kit Kats put in an appearance in spring, as do sweet potato and pumpkin Kit Kats in fall. They always make a nice, fun present for people back home, and they carry with them a personal link to your travels around Japan, too!

3. Food sample goods


What many visitors to Japan notice when exploring its eateries is the number of food samples displayed in shop windows. You might be delighted to know that there is the possibility of bringing a little piece of this tradition home with you! Souvenir stands across the country sell magnets or keychains fashioned in the image of Japan’s famous fake food samples. From succulent sushi to deceptively real daifuku, these make excellent quirky and unmistakable Japanese gifts for your foodie friends back home.

How about making a very special food sample for a close friend or family member? Join this casual, hands-on fake food workshop in Tokyo.

4. Yatsuhashi


Yatsuhashi are triangular-shaped sweets and a Kyoto specialty. Their sweet, mochi-like exterior hides a soft filling from sweet bean paste. They are incredibly addictive. I can’t resist picking up a box just for myself whenever I swing past Kyoto! They are also available in a wide variety of flavors. The classics are usually green tea or plain flavor (both with a red bean paste filling), but more modern flavors like chocolate or custard can be found, too.

5. Tokyo Banana

A photo of a Tokyo Banana cake

This is the definitive Tokyo souvenir, beloved by residents and visitors alike. It is creamy banana custard enveloped in a soft, squishy sponge cake. This is quite commonly gifted among families and colleagues whenever someone visits the capital and there’s no reason why you shouldn’t partake of this tradition too! Besides the standard variety, Tokyo Bananas with a hit of honey, coffee, or even sakura can be found on shelves. There are even special editions bearing the likeness of popular cartoon characters!

6. Otsumami


Otsumami is a Japanese word that refers explicitly to snacks one enjoys when drinking alcohol. I suppose their closest English equivalent might be “bar snacks,” but otsumami is a genre of Japanese food in and of itself.

Otsumami make for more unusual gifts to challenge the folks at home with. You’ll not find cheesy biscuits or tins of peanuts here in Japan. Think more along the lines of various dried seafood, crunchy sour plums, and a lot of squid. No really, a lot of squid. Of course, if your friends and family are not that brave, rice crackers are a good bet, as are “kaki no tane,” peanuts mixed in with slender, slightly spicy rice crackers.

7. Momiji manju


These maple leaf-shaped cakes are one of Hiroshima's signature foods. The sweet cake is filled with a satisfyingly thick filling, usually red bean paste, green tea paste, or custard (though this is just the core selection of the available flavors). I have found that they go down a real treat back home! While they may not be the real deal as sold in Hiroshima, if you are on a budget, you can find bags of own-brand momiji manju at many of Japan’s neighborhood supermarket chains. They are still delicious and a little more wallet-friendly!

8. Royce’ chocolate


Chocolate might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Japan, but it’s indeed top on the list of souvenirs for visitors to Hokkaido. Japan’s northernmost island, with its fertile and open plains, is home to a huge number of dairy farms. All that milk, of course, means that chocolate has become an unlikely regional specialty. So, if you’re visiting Hokkaido and you know a chocoholic, be sure to pick up something for them while you’re there. Royce is one of the many confectioners in the region and is arguably the most popular. Their best seller is their “Nama-Choco,” a sheet of creamy chocolate truffles. They require refrigeration, so if you’re worried about them surviving the long journey home, they also sell chunky bars of regular chocolate that will do just fine in your suitcase.

9. Sake


As you may know, sake is hard to come by outside Japan. The little that does tend to be sold overseas is often expensive and not to everyone’s taste. However, you will find on your travels that the sake in Japan is vast in variety and untouchable in taste. This makes it a wonderful gift for any sommeliers you know back home, or indeed anyone who likes a nice, relaxing drink in the evening or on their days off. Should you plan to stop by any sake breweries on your travels, my top recommendation is to definitely pick up a brewery-exclusive bottle while you’re there. These small-batch bottles are often the best of the bunch, affordable, and unlikely to be found on supermarket shelves overseas!

Not sure how to buy sake or what to recommend? Join this educational sake seminar in Shinbashi. What's more, you can purchase travel-friendly sake gifts after your experience.

10. Instant ramen


Now, hear me out. This might sound like an incredibly cheap present, and you might be concerned that relatives will judge you forever for what sounds like a very basic gift. But in reality, Japan has a lot of unusual instant ramen flavors that you won’t find at home. Many report that the taste of Japanese cup ramen is far superior to that of those sold overseas. Cheese curry, super spicy mapo tofu, and even cilantro are all flavors I have seen on shelves at the convenience store! Even if you don’t want to go for a wacky variety, standard-issue instant ramen in Japan are all really rather delicious. This is an enjoyable and creative present for the noodle lover in your life that won’t break the bank.

Something for everyone

After reading this list, I’m sure you’ll now have a new quandary. What do you get for whom? And more importantly, which of these should you squirrel away in a hidden corner of your luggage to enjoy yourself?! It’s, of course, not possible to fit all of these wonderful gifts into one suitcase, so there is only one solution: you’ll just have to come back to Japan again to do another souvenir run!

Also check out our list of 47 souvenirs for Japan's 47 prefectures! Perfect for those who enjoy collecting regional goodies.

We strive to be as accurate as possible and keep up with the changing landscape of Japan's food and travel industries. If you spot any inaccuracies, please send a report.
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Hattie Richardson
A few years ago, Hattie decided to take a gamble and leave a career in the city for rural Hokkaido. The gamble paid off and the move has changed her life. As Japan’s largest agricultural region, Hokkaido has no shortage of delicious local produce and regional specialities, which Hattie is always on the hunt for. She enjoys photography and drawing. With the beautiful vistas of Hokkaido all around her, there is always subject matter to be found for these passions!
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