We already know that Japan has an amazing, innovative culture. The East Asian nation is known worldwide for its famous sushi, Japanese gardens, intricate tea ceremonies, anime, video games, and hospitality. But did you also know that some of the best candy in the world is Japanese?
In this article, we take a look at the best Japanese candy. Whether you’re planning a trip to Japan (to eat ALL the snacks) or you want to tantalize your tastebuds from home, these candies are sure to tick the right boxes.
- Why is Japanese Candy so Popular?
- Where to Buy Japanese Candy (Wagashi)
- The Best Japanese Candy to Try: My Top Recommendations
- 1. Morinaga Hi-Chew
- 2. Kasugai Hana no Kuchizuke (Flower’s Kiss Candy)
- 3. Morinaga Caramel Milk
- 4. Royce Nama Chocolate ‘Au Lait’
- 5. Black Thunder Chocolate Mini Bars
- 6. Kinoko No Yama and Takenoko No Sato
- 7. Apollo Strawberry Chocolate Candy
- 8. Morinaga Dars White Chocolate
- 9. Shiroi Koibito White Lover White and Black Chocolate
- 10. Kyuemon Ito collaboration Uji Matcha Green Tea Kit Kat
- 11. Meiji Milk Chocolate
- 12. Melty Kiss Matcha Green Tea
- 13. Botan Rice Candy
- 14. Meiji Almond Chocolate
- 15. Milky Candy Fujiya
- 16. Glico Caplico Stick
- 17. Sakuma Drops
- 18. Super Cola
- 19. Konpeito Wisteria Flowers Fuji
- 20. Mikakuto Tokuno Japanese Milk Candy
- 21. Kasugai Gummy Candy
- All-You-Can-Eat Japanese Snack/Candy Bar
Why is Japanese Candy so Popular?
Japan has a huge confectionery market, one that’s expected to hit 12.27 billion dollars by 2025—that’s an awful lot of candy!
The high demand is related to the country’s general reputation for amazing foods and food products. Japan is also associated with quality sugar, chocolate, and gums.
Nowadays, consumers are more aware of making sustainable choices when it comes to food and snacks. Japan is known for furthering ethical food practices and farming, another reason why its confectionery market will continue to grow in the coming years.
Outside of these factors, Japanese candy is popular because it’s simply delicious!
Where to Buy Japanese Candy (Wagashi)
The Japanese love their sweet snacks and there are countless varieties, all with colorful packaging to tempt your senses. If you are new to the Japanese snack scene, you might be a little overwhelmed looking for the best candy.
Japan has every type of sweet you can imagine from gummy bears to hard candy to Kit Kats flavored with matcha green tea and everything in between.
If you’re lucky enough to visit Japan, you find candy everywhere: Supermarkets, convenience stores, drug stores, newsstands, department stores, vending machines…you get the idea!
There are also places you can buy awesome Japanese candy in bulk.
Check out this video of a candy shop in Sannomiya, Kobe to see all of the sweets you can get there:
The Best Japanese Candy to Try: My Top Recommendations
Let’s step into a digital Willy Wonka’s factory and cover some of the best Japanese candy out there.
The best part is that you don’t actually need to be in Japan to sample these. All of the options below can be delivered across the world thanks to the internet.
1. Morinaga Hi-Chew
Hi-Chew is kind of like Starburst in America. It was created as an edible version of chewing gum. The Japanese have traditional manners, one unspoken “rule” is that taking food out of your mouth is considered rude. With that in mind, the aptly named Hi-Chew was the answer to chewing gum.
This taffy-like candy chews like gum. It doesn’t get stuck to your teeth—can you believe that’s a trait that has been patented? And it’s not as sweet as Starburst but it has a fruitier taste. Even in America, Hi-Chew has a cult-like following. It must be said…I might be biased but I think the Japanese version blows the American copy out of the water.
There are so many different Hi-Chew flavors: Green apple, grape, pineapple, strawberry, mango, orange, yogurt, and a whole bunch more!
If you love Starburst, these candies are a must-try, so don’t miss out.
- Hi-chew - 8Flavor pack put in a special box.
- -Strawberry, Grape, Green Apple, Mikan, White soda, cola, pineapple, lemon squash
2. Kasugai Hana no Kuchizuke (Flower’s Kiss Candy)
The cutest thing about this candy is the flower kiss candy wrapper. The birth flowers cover 366 days of the year (including the leap year), with each flower’s meaning. This popular classic candy is a long-time favorite in Japan.
The plum and milk hard-boiled candy is like nothing you’ve ever tasted. This is the way candy should be. The smooth milk overtones marry perfectly with the fruit, which is subtle and not overpowering. If you want candy with a burst of balanced flavor that is different from most other hard candies you’ve had, give this a try.
- You will receive (3) bags of Kasugai Hana no Kuchizuke Candy 4.54oz
- A Japanese candy classic. The name means "Flower's kiss"
- A smooth rich flavor combination
- Delicious milk candy with plum flavoring
- Individually packaged with an image of birth flower (by day) and its flower meaning (in Japanese)
3. Morinaga Caramel Milk
Undoubtedly one of the Japanese candy industry’s icons, Morinaga Caramel Milk first came on the scene in 1913. This candy enjoys immense popularity today, as it did in the past, thanks to its unique flavor, which hasn’t changed in years.
Adults are reminded of their childhood with this candy, and that’s always an indication of a Japanese classic.
These caramel candies are light and chewy but you can taste the rich milk in the recipe. Smooth with a buttery taste and an amazing texture that shouldn’t stick to your teeth, these classic candies will definitely become one of your favorites. It’s easy to see why Morinaga Caramel Milk is one of the best-selling Japanese candies around.
One bite and you’ll be hooked on this delectable treat. Seriously. I’m usually not a huge caramel fan, but I’ll eat these anytime, anywhere!
- You will receive (5) boxes of Moringa Milk Caramel (L) 5.25oz
- Milk Caramel From Japan!
- Contains 18 Individually Wrapped Pieces
- Flavorful bite size milk caramel cubes
- Net Wt. 5.25oz/149g
4. Royce Nama Chocolate ‘Au Lait’
Decadent and utterly delightful chocolate. It’s so popular you can buy it at most airports or even some gift shops in Japan.
The chocolate itself has a smooth and creamy texture. It’s very similar to the consistency of a chocolate truffle, a form of ganache. Note that this is not a traditional sweet in Japan, per se. And ganache hails from Paris, where sweet treats are considered an art form. Nevertheless, the Japanese have taken patisserie to heart and perfected it.
While you probably know that “au lait” is French for “with milk”, you might be wondering what “nama” chocolate is. In Japanese, nama means raw or fresh. When talking about chocolate, this indicates the milk and cocoa are fresh, rich and absolutely tasty.
This chocolate comes in a beautiful blue packaging that looks elegant and fancy, making it a very popular gift. The delicate chocolate is best bought when it’s cooler because it does melt very fast. That’s the only downfall to this product. It’s a refrigerated product, so it can be hard to get your hands on if you live outside of Japan. Amazon US does sell it, but if you live in a hot area, keep in mind that this candy needs to be kept cool at all times.
Royce’s Nama Au Lait chocolate squares are dusted with powdered cocoa, which balances the sweet interior. Truly an indulgent chocolate experience not to be missed. There are a lot of other flavors besides the Au Lait too. I really love the white chocolate and champagne chocolate flavors as well.
- "Made in HOKKAIDO" Shipping from HOKKAIDO
5. Black Thunder Chocolate Mini Bars
Cookies, chocolate, and rice crispies, what’s not to like? This dark chocolate bar is very famous in Japan because it’s so good.
If you like Oreo cookies you’ll love this bar. The interior tastes much like Oreos (without the cream) and malt balls. The exterior is dark chocolate with a crispy crunch. The bar is not overbearing or too sweet. Always a good thing because you feel like you’re really enjoying an item and not just eating pure sugar like some other sweet products.
The crispy part gives it a punch and you almost feel as if you’re eating a decadent energy bar. Top tip: The bars taste amazing with ice cream (then again, what candy doesn’t taste good with ice cream?). Using it as a topping on vanilla ice cream works wonderfully well.
This candy is also named Kuroi Raijin, after the Japanese god of thunder. When you take a bite of this you will know why. With over 100 million units sold every year, there’s little doubting its popularity.
- You will receive (5) packs of Yuraku Black Thunder Mini Bars Bag
- Chocolate mini bars
- Crispy, crunchy bars wafer coated chocolate
- Contains 12 bars
- Net Wt. 5.87oz/166.6g
6. Kinoko No Yama and Takenoko No Sato
Basically the same chocolate-covered biscuit except they are different shapes. The Meiji company, one of Japan’s leading snack food makers, offers chocolate-dipped mushrooms (Kinoko No Yama) and chocolate-dipped bamboo shoots (Takenoko No Sato).
These super popular biscuits in Japan are subject to a Coke-versus-Pepsi style debate. It’s such an important question that in 2018 a nationwide taste-test challenge involving 15 million testers saw Takenoko No Sato marginally beat Kinoko No Yama for the grand prize of the best chocolate dipped biscuit.
The biscuits are light and airy, and as usual, the chocolate is not overly sweet. Japan, in general, has amazing chocolate. It tastes very rich and pleasant but never like it’s going to give you instant cavities.
I personally think that the Kinoko No Yama and Takenoko No Sato tastes really different from one another. Even though it seems the Takenoko No Sato might be the more popular choice, I’m all about the Kinoko No Yama. Both are great though. The Takenoko No Sato has a bigger biscuit to chocolate ratio, which gives it a crispier texture. I usually love it when there’s a lot of crispy textures with chocolate, but I find that the Kinoko No Yama, with its smaller biscuit ratio is a perfect match to the amount of chocolate given per piece.
I suggest you try both. I wonder what your favorite will be?
- These mushroom-shaped Japanese chocolate snacks are truly delicious!
- The chocolate 'mushroom' top perfectly complements the biscuit 'stem'
- Once you try these, you'll be addicted! Also, if you like these, try the Takenoko no Sato snacks!
- Japanese lesson: 'Kinoko' means mushroom in Japanese, 'yama' means mountain
- Net Wt. 3.13 Oz
7. Apollo Strawberry Chocolate Candy
These tiny and delicate dime-sized snacks are wonderful. When you open the box your senses will be awakened with the scent of strawberry.
The cone-shaped candies are made with milk chocolate and strawberry-flavored white chocolate. A double dose of the two types melts in your mouth simultaneously. This wonderful combination is so tasty, you won’t be able to eat just one or two. You might eat the whole box in one sitting… if you’re anything like me!
The dispenser box is also a nice touch and the strawberries on a white background are super cute. It’s a wonderful gift idea above and beyond the packaging, because these are one of the most popular snacks in Japan.
- These tiny strawberry chocolates are a Japanese favorite!
- Add the cute cone shaped candies to ice cream, decorate with them, or eat them as is!
- Net Wt. 1.69 Oz.
8. Morinaga Dars White Chocolate
Chocolate is made from cacao beans. After the beans are dried and roasted, the beans are ground and the resulting paste is formed into chocolate liquor (not alcoholic just named so because it’s liquid).
To get white chocolate, the cocoa butter part of the liquor is used (for milk and dark chocolate, the cocoa solids are used). When we talk about “rich chocolate”, cocoa butter is the ingredient that makes it rich. This is why white chocolate is so good, it’s only made from the unctuous cocoa butter part.
This white chocolate bar is so creamy and melts in your mouth. The smooth consistency and milky flavor are what most people rave about. I love white chocolate and this bar tastes great. It’s also is pretty cheap if you get it in Japan.
White chocolate does melt fast so be aware. This chocolate should be refrigerated if the weather is hot. I recommend chilling it in the fridge to let it firm up before eating.
The Morinaga Dars Bars also come in dark chocolate and milk chocolate varieties. They are all very creamy and fast-melting, but you won’t worry about that once you taste them. And anyway, the best chocolates, in my opinion, always melt fast.
- The texture of the chocolate is really smooth
- The milky flavor is so amazing
- Once you have it, you won't regurate
- jproduct of japan
- The texture of the chocolate is really smooth
9. Shiroi Koibito White Lover White and Black Chocolate
Stop right there. If you have never heard of these Shiroi Koibito chocolate cookies before, you NEED to try some as soon as possible. Trust me, they are that good.
While it’s technically not a candy most of the other items on this list (it’s considered to be more of a luxurious cookie), I just had to include it in this list based a taste alone.
This beautiful box comes with 24 individually wrapped cookies (12 pieces each of white and dark chocolate). The box is pretty enough to keep and use and the individually wrapped cookies stay fresh and tasty.
This special snack is made with light and delicate square-shaped, shortbread cookies spread with dark or white chocolate in the center. The shortbread is just right in this particular cookie and not dry as shortbread can be. It has a nice subtle buttery flavor that doesn’t overpower the chocolate or your tastebuds.
Together, the shortbread and chocolate melt in your mouth and will leave you wanting more. While not technically a candy, I felt this treat is an absolute must among Japanese snacks and so deserved a place on this list.
I highly recommend the white chocolate. The dark chocolate is good too, but the white chocolate is otherworldly good. But there are boxes that have both white and dark chocolate cookies in them, so you can try them both!
10. Kyuemon Ito collaboration Uji Matcha Green Tea Kit Kat
If you love Kit Kats and matcha tea’s unique taste, you’re in for a treat. These Kit Kats are made with Uji matcha green tea, a product from Uji, Kyoto. This energy-enhancing tea is tangy, tasty and good for you.
The iconic wafer and chocolate candy bar, which hails from the USA and was created in 1935, and has enjoyed a long and prosperous life because it’s a great mixture of flavors.
Married with the green tea flavor, this white choc Kit Kat really comes to life. The white chocolate is not overbearing and the green tea gives it a little kick. With the added cookie crunch, it’s a tantalizing item indeed.
There are actually two types of matcha Kit Kat bars. One is made tangier for the locals and the sweeter version, which you often find at airports, appeals to foreigners more. You may not be able to taste the difference but these are definitely separate recipes. I’ve even heard rumors there are three versions of these Kit Kats.
Altogether, Nestle has created over 350 different Kit Kats for the Japanese market. Some of the most popular flavors include cherry blossom, edamame, and sweet potato. It’s safe to say that the humble Kit Kat is going to stay popular in Japan for a long time.
Don’t be surprised if you announce you’re going to Japan and every one of your friends asks you for Matcha Green Tea Kit Kats. It’s the number one selling flavor Kit Kat in Japan and a well-known, internet sensation all over the world.
- Japanese Kit Kat Uji Matcha Chocolate Bar
- Kyoto Limited Flavor
- 1 mini bar = 12.3g (about 0.43oz)
11. Meiji Milk Chocolate
Another A-1 product from one of the biggest candy makers in Japan. Meiji Milk Chocolate comes boxed with 28 individually wrapped pieces of chocolate, so you can share some with your friends and family (or not).
A common statement made about Japanese chocolate is its smooth, rich consistency and fantastically deep choc flavor. Perhaps because the amount of sugar used in the chocolate is never overpowering.
Because this chocolate bar is so rich and creamy, you don’t need a lot of it to be satisfied. A few pieces will satisfy even the strongest of chocolate cravings.
This chocolate is a great value. It’s usually around 3 bucks if you buy it in Japan, but it tastes better than most chocolate bars in America at the same price point.
- This chocolate have 28 individual pieces
- It won't mess your finger when you eat it
- You can add the chocolate to milk and coffee if you really want to have some good chocolate milk or mocha
- One of the signature product by meiji
- Product of japan
12. Melty Kiss Matcha Green Tea
These tiny little candies come individually wrapped in a box of 14. Just as the title suggests, Melty Kiss’ delicious little bites melt in your mouth. Sadly they also melt in the summer, so you can usually only find these in Japan during winter.
Like many on our list of the best Japanese candies, this is not overly sweet chocolate. Each choc is dusted with bitter cocoa powder, which provides flavor, but it isn’t too exciting. But when you bite into the chocolate, you’ll experience an explosion of sweet silkiness, all chocolate and cream in taste.
The center of the candy houses the green tea component. The combination of green tea and chocolate is truly one of the best creations in Japanese candy.
- Meiji Meltykiss Matcha Green Tea Chocolate
- Product of China
13. Botan Rice Candy
This soft, chewy, taffy-like candy is a not only classic in Japan, but in other countries as well. I remember having these as a kid growing up in Hawaii.
It comes in one flavor only—a hint of orange and lemon mixed together. The unique thing about this sweet treat is that each individual piece is covered with edible rice paper. The rice paper offers a hint of flavor and an interesting texture which only adds to this candy.
People love Botan Rice because it’s not too sweet and has subtle flavors that mix well together. The packaging also comes with a sticker to keep kids happy.
Botan means flower blossom in Japanese and this is definitely a blossom of flavors coming together in your mouth.
14. Meiji Almond Chocolate
Life is like a box of chocolates, and this chocolate is exceptional. From the famous Meiji candy maker comes an old classic. How can you go wrong with chocolate and almonds?
The almonds are crispy and crunchy and dipped individually in Meiji’s famous silky milk chocolate that literally melts in your mouth. This chocolate is the perfectly sweet if you don’t overly sweet candy.
In the same vein but slightly different is the Meiji Almond Smart Sweet Chocolate. These small bits of heaven are made with semi-sweet chocolate and milk chocolate. The combination of these chocolates creates a cracking flavor, and the fresh almonds add essential texture.
If you like chocolate and nuts combined, you can’t go wrong with these Japanese candies.
15. Milky Candy Fujiya
A warning from me to you, dear reader: these candies are addictive. The first time I had this candy, I was amazed. I never had anything like it.
These individually wrapped sweets are somewhat like caramel chews but they start out hard when you first put them in your mouth. After a while, they soften up and begin to taste like liquid condensed milk, hence the “milky” name. Be careful as people are known to eat the whole bag in one sitting.
Milky Candy is the Fujiya brand’s most popular selling candy and first came on the scene in the 1950s. It’s a classic in Japan and you definitely have to try them.
Peko-Chan is the cute little doll on the packaging and you will find life-sized replicas of her all over Japan. She is very fashionable and always has a different outfit on. Look for her on your next trip and take a photo. She’s an iconic figure and symbolizes this iconic candy.
16. Glico Caplico Stick
These are contenders for the cutest snack ever award. The box has a photo with ice cream cones on it in strawberry, chocolate, and vanilla and you get nine of these “ice cream cones” in a pack. The surprise is that this isn’t ice cream but a wonderful candy and cookie snack.
Each ice cream cone comes individually wrapped but you still probably want to buy these in the winter because they can melt easily.
It might sound a bit strange, but I’d liken eating these little candies to eating clouds. Bear with me, here’s why.
The cone’s filling is made of a whipped texture that is so light, airy and kind of dissolves or melts into your mouth. As an added plus, it’s not overly sweet. Once you have licked all the ice cream out of the cone, you will find a bit of dark chocolate on the bottom, just like in a regular frozen cone.
The cone itself is similar to an American wafer cookie and provides the perfect amount of crunch to balance out all that puffy cloud goodness!
You have three flavors to try all with a distinct taste. Choosing is too hard so I’d strongly recommend getting all three flavors to avoid missing out.
17. Sakuma Drops
If you like hard candy then you will love these classics. Sakuma drops are over a century old having first appeared in Japan in 1908. An enduring candy that’s been around that long has to be exceptional and these prove that true.
The wonderful little treats are made with real fruit juice so the flavors are absolutely incredible. In addition to all the fruity flavors of grape, mint, melon, and orange you will also find chocolate candies.
The candies come in assorted shapes and sizes and are boxed in collectible or limited edition tins. One of the most popular has an image of Setsuko from the film Grave of the Fireflies, a popular 1988 anime film (if you haven’t seen it, be prepared to cry your eyes out).
18. Super Cola
If your sweet tooth fancies more of a tart, sour candy, don’t look past these little gems. They’re just the right amount of sour to knock your socks off and wake you up.
Super Cola is an individually wrapped hard candy that starts off very sour. As your face twists and turns and eventually gets used to the flavor, you will start tasting the zing of the cola part of the candy.
As you keep eating this candy, the flavors become less intense and start to get sweeter. It’s definitely something to try when you want something different from typical hard candies.
The other thing I really like about this product is the packaging. The candies come in a colorful bag with newsprint on it and each candy is packaged in black with bold red lettering. Very sleek and chic and wonderful to keep in your candy dish at home.
19. Konpeito Wisteria Flowers Fuji
The packaging containing these Japanese sweets is beautiful. The reusable glass jars are elegant and mimic the color of the clear crystal candy. A jar makes for a perfect gift and the candy tastes great to boot.
The sugar candies themselves come in a very cute star shape. Each has a hint of color depending on the flavor you get. Wisteria is pink and purple, cosmos is orange, the hydrangea is blue and green, the dandelion is green, and sakura is pink and green. In the jar, the candy looks delectable and inviting with its subtle coloring.
The candy tastes light and unassuming. Unlike many other rock candies, it’s not too sweet. Wisteria has undertones of vanilla and grape and the flavors featured are blueberry, cherry, and strawberry.
Truth be told, they are the most “ordinary” tasting candy on this list, but it’s probably the most beautiful. You can impress your guests by serving them these beautiful pieces of art.
20. Mikakuto Tokuno Japanese Milk Candy
Milk candy is an enduring favorite in Japan and Mikakuto’s offering has been on the market for thirty years and remains popular today.
Each candy comes individually wrapped for maximum freshness in an unassuming package. Look past the plain exterior and you’ll be rewarded.
These little balls of milk are pure creamy goodness. Made with condensed milk, they are rich with an amazing and long-lasting aftertaste that lingers in your mouth well after the sweet is gone.
Try these best-selling candies and I’m sure you’ll join the ranks of the lifelong fans.
- Individually Wrapped Candy
- Premium Ingredients
- Case Pack
- Rich Milk and Butter Flavor
21. Kasugai Gummy Candy
If you’re reading this, there’s probably a good chance you love gummy bears. This candy is similar to gummy candies made but are made with real fruit. Delicious enough to give Haribo a real run for its money and made in a vast array of cool flavors, these are top-shelf gummies.
Choose from lychee, mango, peach, kiwi, melon, and Ramune, a best-selling Japanese soda. There are many more flavors, too many to list here, but these are some of my favorites.
The candies come in a pouch and are individually wrapped so you can share them with your friends. However, you may not want to because once you open them up you’ll likely want to squirrel them away for keeps.
The round shape and the recipe give the gummies a nice soft texture and bounce. After you try these, you might not be able to go back to your standard gummy bears again.
- Kasugai Gummy Party Pack 3.59oz (15 Bags) , You will receive at least 10 Flavors plus 5 duplicated flavors),
- Flavors randomly picked upon availability. You may receive different flavors than pictured,
All-You-Can-Eat Japanese Snack/Candy Bar
If you’re stalking the shop’s isles in Japan and can’t choose which candies to devour, Japan has you covered here too with an all-you-can-eat candy bar in Shibuya. For 500 yen (at the time of writing), you can eat all the varieties of candy you want and enjoy a beer and other assorted snacks at the bar. Delightfully sinful, right!?
Note: The 500 yen covers the cost of the all-you-can-eat snack bar, but you also need to order a drink (a separate charge).
Visiting the Dagashi restaurant is a great way to try unlimited amounts of candy and see what tantalizes your taste buds most. Take note of your favorites so you have plenty of options for unique souvenirs for friends and family back home.