It seems like everyone who visits Japan comes back with a suitcase full of delicious, adorable candy you just can't find anywhere else... for good reason. Once you try some of the eclectic sweets the country has to offer, you'll never want to go back to your same old Skittles and Twix again.
From smiling-faced packages to heart-shaped hard candies, Japan's culture of kawaii, or cuteness, is incredibly evident across all commercial sectors. It just so happens, though, that cute and candy go together like peanut butter and jelly (or chocolate and caramel). If you want a taste of the local culture and want to try ingenious inventions, sampling some Japanese candy is the way to go.
Whether you're already a Japanese confectionary connoisseur or you're a complete novice, test your knowledge of these delectable treats with the following quiz. Can you recognize these popular varieties just by looking at the picture? By the time you're done, you'll want to book a flight to Japan and try each one yourself. Of course, these days it's possible to order more Japanese treats than you could ever eat, without leaving your home - just order online!
Meanwhile, though, gather whatever sweets you have on hand, and let's get started.
For generations, this classic candy bar has remained a staple in Japan's confectionary scene. Meiji Chocolate Bars have led the way in the country's chocolate sales ever since their 1926 creation.
Choco Baby candies are pellets of chocolate with a flavored center. Slightly smaller than a Tic Tac, each Choco Baby packs delicious flavor into a cute package. Since they take a long time to melt, you can savor every last second.
Shaped like coffee beans, Meiji's Coffee Beat candies contain a little bit of real coffee and a lot of chocolate. As they have a very mild coffee flavor, they are a classic, popular candy choice for children and adults alike.
Since their 1966 creation, these chocolate -covered biscuit sticks have become something of a Japanese icon. From American supermarkets to Switzerland gas stations, you can find this beloved treat all across the globe.
The crunchy Crunky chocolate bar contains toasted grains that give it its characteristic texture. From matcha chocolate to strawberries and cream, the myriad Crunky flavors never cease to delight.
Lovers of fast food, candy, and all things miniature can't help but adore the ultra-cute Every Burger. Consisting of two biscuits for the bun, a chocolate hamburger and white-chocolate cheese, this tiny treat is too good not to eat. And no, it doesn't contain real meat.
In the early 16th century, Portuguese traders introduced a technique for producing candy from sugar to Japan. As a result, Konpeitō stems from the Portuguese word for sweets, "confeito." Apparently, if you visit the Imperial House of Japan, you will likely receive Konpeitō as a gift.
Sold in tiny boxes or cardboard tubes, Marble Chocolate was Japan's first candy to contain grain, which adds to its texture and flavor. Made by Japanese candy giant Meiji, the sugar-coated candies are a true childhood staple.
In English, Kinoko No Yama translates to "mushroom mountain." These delicious mushroom-shaped biscuits typically have chocolate tops, but occasionally may come in other flavors like vanilla or strawberry. In the U.S., some people call these fungus-inspired treats "Chocorooms."
True to their name, Chocoballs are little chocolate balls sold all over Japan. They may contain caramel, peanut or strawberry, and they tend to be the least expensive candy you can buy. The candy's mascot, a parrot named Kyorochan, is enormously popular throughout the country.
With origins dating back to the 1860s, Amanatto are beans (soybeans or virtually any variety) that have been boiled in water and sugar and then topped with more sugar. Before sugar arrived in Japan, locals largely sweetened foods with beans, so the match just made sense. Today, whether store-bought or homemade, they remain particularly popular among the elderly.
Young children love Ramune, which is derived from the English word for "lemonade" and meant to taste like Japan's favorite lemon-lime soft drink. Even the bottle is designed to look like the iconic soda.
When strawberry season rolls around, you can expect to see lots of street vendors bearing these delightful candied strawberries. You can even find extra-large varieties of candied strawberries, with some as large as a kiwi.
Japanese treats designed to look like other foods are very popular, and Caplico is no exception. These mini ice-cream-shaped wafers come in flavors like strawberry, chocolate and vanilla. If you want a life-sized ice cream cone, try Giant Caplico!
Meaning "bamboo shoot village" in English, these plant-inspired treats never cease to delight. Enjoy them with your Kinoko No Yama, or mushroom mountain biscuits, to create your own chocolatey woodland fairytale.
Macadamia nuts originally came to Japan from Hawaiian tourists, and ever since they have remained a favorite within the country. While there are various brands of chocolate-covered macadamia nuts on the market, Japanese chocolate giant Meiji's product is, as always, very popular.
Since 1993, DARS has remained a very popular chocolate bar staple in Japan. It's typically available in go-to flavors like milk chocolate, white chocolate and dark. Which flavor will you choose?
Named after Kuroi Raijin, a Japanese god of thunder, this bar truly has it all. The dark milk chocolate bar contains a delectable combination of crispy rice and cookie chunks. It's also inexpensive, so be sure to stock up.
Those in Japan love to chew on Black Black. Each serving contains variety of interesting ingredients, like oolong tea extract, ginkgo extract, chrysanthemum flower extract, caffeine and nicotinamide, which is a type of vitamin B3. Office types love this stuff as a daily pick-me-up.
Cream Collon are cream-filled biscuits that have proven enormously popular in the country over the years. The brand behind them, Glico, has released dozens of flavors, including mango pudding, blueberry and green tea.
These teeny-tiny mints come in dozens of flavors, like grape, pineapple, grapefruit, strawberry and peach. They also feature an adorable monkey on the little plastic container. What's not to love?
Toppo is considered the inverse of Pocky: instead of a candy coating on the outside, it contains filling on the inside. It comes in most of the same flavors as Pocky, and there's even a bitter chocolate "for men" variety. Full disclosure: you don't need to be a man to buy them.
These fish-shaped pretzels typically contain a chocolate filling, but they also come in flavors like strawberry and milk. If you love sweet and savory, you'll be a huge FINatic of these.
Meiji does it again with Meltykiss, the cream-filled, chocolate-dusted cubes that, true to their name, melt in your mouth. Unfortunately, if you store them improperly, the chocolates will also melt in the wrapper! The packaging advises against storing them at temperatures higher than 73.4°F.
Kit Kats are enormously popular in Japan, where they come in exciting flavors like saké, wasabi, apple vinegar, sweet potato and green tea. If you have an adventurous palate, you need to give them a try.
Why have actual pasta for dinner when you can have bourbon-flavored Fettuccine gummi candies? Although they're shaped like noodles, they're flavored like fizzy beverages. In varieties like Italian grape, peach and cola, these candies never disappoint.
This lemon-orange flavored Japanese candy classic is covered in rice paper that quickly dissolves in the mouth. The inner candy is soft, sweet and, arguably, perfect to eat!
Made with soybean flour and finely ground sugar, Higashi comes in myriad intricate colors and designs, like animals, plants and fruit. It is a true art form, which is probably why this treat is considered such a fancy one in Japan.
Inspired by the 1960s space missions, Japan's Apollo chocolates are meant to look like tiny space capsules. While their actual resemblance to a space capsule is debatable, most people can probably agree that these strawberry-chocolate delights are out of this world.
Just like you, Koala's March biscuits exhibit a broad range of emotion. These cream-filled cookies come in many flavors, like chocolate, white chocolate, pineapple and strawberry. They're almost too cute to eat... almost.
These caramel-coated corn puffs are a quintessential Japanese treat. Each year, Tohato releases limited-edition special flavors, like lemon sherbet, custard cream and grilled sweet potato. Will you try them all?
Chiroru are bite-sized, inexpensive chocolates that come in literally hundreds of flavors. They're often sold individually at markets and convenience stores, so you can always satiate your chocolate craving without going overboard.
With over 113 fruity flavors created over the years, Hi-Chews are enormously popular in Japan. First released in the country in 1975, the iconic candy was derived from Taichiro Morinaga's 1931 idea to create swallowable chewing gum, due to the Japanese cultural taboo of removing food from the mouth.
These Meiji-made biscuits, Hello Panda, are an obvious competitor of the Koala's March cookies. But if you try them both, I think you will find that pandas and koalas can truly come together in harmony: in your mouth.
Inside Big Choco's chocolatey exterior lies an unflavored, unsweetened corn puff that makes for a surprisingly tasty creation. There are also some peanuts in there, which add a little extra crunch.
Since almonds are filled with healthy antioxidants and vitamins, that means this bar is healthy, right? While that may be up for some debate, no one can argue that Almond Peak is a delightful treat. The bar's milk comes from Hokkaido, Japan, and the almonds are imported from the U.S.
No, these aren't Peeps, although they might naturally remind you of them. These chick-shaped treats consist of a pastry shell and a lima bean paste interior. Legend has it that the idea for these immensely popular sweets came to the founder of Hiyoko in a dream. Thanks, dream gods!
Mochi has a long tradition in Japan. Though no one knows exactly where the sweet rice cakes came from, many Japanese people claim that they stem from the arrival of Shinto spirits to the planet. Regardless of whom or what graced the Earth with these, everyone is obviously better for it.
Flavored like Japan's popular Mitsuya Cider beverage, these hard candies contain carbonated bubbles that will delight your taste buds. Choose from grape, peach or apple Mitsuya Cider candies for a fun explosion in your mouth.