If you are lost as to what snacks to buy when in Japan, the best bet is to go to the main JR station of the city you are visiting. Chances are you can find a huge variety of souvenir and gifts to bring back all at one-stop.
For me, I like to visit them as one of my first stop to buy some snacks to try locally before deciding what to re-purchase to bring back for friends and family.
Being a warabi mochi lover, Josuian 如水庵 Tsukushi Mochi was the first item I went on a hunt for within the confectionery area of the departmental store. It’s available in packs of 3, 6, 12, 18 etc…all the way to packs of whopping 45!
Each piece of the mochi is wrapped with a colourful paper resembling the Furoshiki wrapping used to carry Japanese bentos. Within each tiny package is a bamboo pick, a sachet of sweet black sugar syrup to be poured over the mochi covered with kinako (roasted soy bean) powder. I really loved the texture of the smooth, silky yet chewy mochi. The best part is it is individually packed in a modest portion good for ladies who wish to end their meal with something sweet but concerned about eating too much. The shelve life of this product is also much longer than the freshly made ones I bought from confectioneries, making it a good souvenir to bring back for friends/family.
The next item on my shopping list is the Fukutaro Menbei Mentaiko Senbei. The star product is rice crackers with spiced cod roe (plain), although they have introduced a variety of other flavours as well.
There are some samples available for tasting in the store, but I only tried the “plain” flavour before deciding that its too crowded (I visited during the Golden Week) to squeeze my way to reach all the sampling containers scattered around. So I decided to buy a box of mixed flavours including the classic “plain“, popular “mayonnaise“, “hot & spicy” and “green onion/leek” so that I could try them in the comfort of my hotel room. While I couldn’t taste much of the mayonnaise flavour, the “hot & spicy” might be a little too spicy for some people. The “plain” flavour was tasty enough for me to buy a few more boxes as gifts, this flavour is available conveniently even at the airport. But if you would like to purchase other flavours, its wiser to purchase them at the downtown stores.
The next snack was actually very famous and popular in Tokyo because the confectionery opened an outlet there. Little did people know that this product originated from Fukuoka. Honpo Yoshinodo Meika Hiyoko is a thin dough shell wrapped around a mixture of egg yolk and bean paste.
It tastes very much like our savoury mung bean paste （咸豆沙) wrapped with a thin mooncake-liked pastry skin. The simple flavour made it suitable for children along with it’s kawaii (cute) little chick form. I enjoyed this as it has an old-school taste, but didn’t buy more as the boxes were pretty bulky to hand-carry.
One of my interesting find was this Mentaiko French Fries from Calbee as it’s in crinkle cut rather than the usual Jagarico type (straight fries). The crinkle cut resulted in more surface area to coat the savoury mentaiko seasoning and is crispier than the straight fries.
While wandering around Daiso I spotted this nostalgic treat (pic above, right)! I bet most kids now would not have seen this before – cos Singapore banned sale, import and manufacture of chewing gum since 1992.
I always make an effort to visit the supermarkets in Japan, especially if they have a food hall. It’s a foodie paradise for the fresh produces, fruits as well as the cooked food. Here I chanced upon a stall selling Kumamon shaped waffle – although I’m in Hakata, Fukuoka Prefecture. Even the wrapper is printed with the famous mascot of Kumamoto Prefecture.
Fruits are notoriously expensive in Japan, but its comparatively cheaper than getting them at imported price in Singapore. So we typically buy strawberries to munch on during our trip. We headed over to the supermarket on the last day of our trip to bring back strawberries and more importantly Miyazaki Mangoes. The mangoes are produced in Miyazaki Prefecture on Kyushu Island. With a peak harvest between April and August, they are really juicy, sweet and sold when they are at the right ripeness.
Since we made a day trip to Kagoshima, we also stopped by Kumamoto train station to stock up on some cute snacks. I also randomly picked up the Annouimo Sweet Potato Pie for my mum who loves sweet potatoes. Being the largest producer of sweet potatoes in Japan, Kagoshima is the “Land of Sweet Potatoes”. Although I didn’t get to taste it, she was happy with this omiyage.
Even the red bean cakes has the Kumamon mascot imprinted on it~ Bought these to snack on for our ride back to Hakata.
Despite spending many hours travelling on the Shinkansen across Kyushu Island, we were spoilt by the abundance of sumptuous food right from the start of the day. I look forward to the healthy porridge breakfast served with an array of Japanese side dishes.
With Children’s Day being celebrated on 5th May in Japan, there were Koinobori (鯉のぼり), “carp streamers” hung because carp are known for their ability to swim upstream, they symbolise courage and determination for the kids.
The hotel had a pancake stand filled with cute designs for the kids! Don’t they look too pretty to be eaten?
On the late night whereby the queue for the famous ramen stall was too long, we gave up and decided to just buy some takeaway back to our room to fill our stomach. We found a shop selling 一口餃子 Hitokuchi gyoza. These bite-sized gyozas are much smaller than the regular ones so that you can stuff them in 1 mouth. I guessed they looked slightly soggy after being brought back to our room.
Food is easily available 24/7 in Fukuoka as some ramen shops that only opened for late night supper into the wee hours. We were too tired to venture out for food hunt, but was satisfied with what I could grab from konbinis. I’m always amazed by the variety of cup noodles (posts on cup noodles 1, 2) and their ever evolving innovative flavours such as this Lan Zhou Beef Noodles. It has a beef-based soup with mildly special spicy chilli oil and “fake beef cubes”.
Chanced upon these cute Komeda’s Coffee miniature gashapon (toy capsule) and decided to try my luck. Got pretty lucky to pick the signature dish Shiro-Noir at first attempt! It’s the little surprises and the excitement of opening up the capsules that make gashapon so addictive. Got the coffee set on the second attempt. Very satisfied. Yeah.
Picked up these two Gotochi Craftholic keychains because I was attracted to the food badges: Watermelon and Ramen.
Our hands are really quite full from having to hand-carry so many confectionery snacks and yet I was tempted to buy the LeTao Melon Double Fromage frozen cake from the Fukuoka airport. Although this cake originates in Hokkaido, it is also available in Tokyo‘s airport, I didn’t buy it cos the ice pack provided can only last 6 hours – not enough to cover our flight time back to Singapore. The opportunity cannot be missed when departing from Kyushu as the flight time is only about 6 hours.
Japan‘s taxi fare is notoriously exorbitant but this was the first time we took a taxi from our hotel downtown to the airport. This is because the Fukuoka airport is only a 15-mins ride away and it only cost around ¥1500 (S$20). Although it was a morning flight, we arrived at the airport effortlessly and was able to enjoy our inflight meal in good spirit (instead of being super tired). The highlight was the mini bottle of Dassai 23!
Canape of Singapore Chicken and Beef Satay, Appetizer of Smoked Duck with Braised Daikon and Yuzu Dressing, Main Course of Wok Fried Seafood with Kung Pao Sauce and dessert of Sakura Ice Cream.
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