Mitarashi dango

Iconic Japanese Sweets

by: Hideo Takahashi



Time to read 5 min

Iconic Japanese Treats

Japan offers a wide variety of treats, starting from traditional confectionery to more Western-like snacks,

people of all ages appreciate them and are rapidly spreading overseas for their peculiarities.

Let's look at some of the most popular treats in Japan.

Types of Japanese treats

When you think about Japanese treats, you might think about traditional sweets, with their characteristic delicate beauty and flavors; they are an important part of Japanese culinary culture. However, they represent just one of the country's many kinds of sweet and salty snacks. Here are some of the categories we can classify Japanese treats in.

Most popular wagashi

"Wagashi" is a term that describes traditional Japanese confectionery: they are often made from natural flavoring ingredients like glutinous rice, azuki (red beans) paste, agar-agar, and matcha. People from all over the world admire the artistry of wagashi, and their aesthetics and healthiness are just some of the reasons why they represent a valid alternative to the more common, modern snacks.


Taiyaki is a waffle-like cake, crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside, that usually contains red bean paste. It has a characteristic sea bream form because this fish is traditionally associated with fortune and prosperity.



If you have been a fan of the popular Japanese cartoon "Doraemon", you have surely heard about

"Dorayaki" consists of two fluffy, pancake-like sponge cakes filled with red bean paste. Some

modern variations may include other ingredients like custard, chocolate, or matcha cream.



"Dango" are small, chewy rice flour dumplings, often served on skewers. There are several varieties of dango, like "mitarashi dango", flavored with sugared soy sauce, or "sanshoku dango", consisting of a pink, a white, and a green dumpling, often associated with cherry blossoming. Other popular ingredients include red bean paste, green tea, and Japanese mugwort.


Most popular non-wagashi sweets

Not all Japanese sweets can be considered "wagashi": treats made from more "typical Western."

ingredients like flour, white sugar, and chocolate are also trendy among people of all ages.

Nowadays, many Japanese non-wagashi sweets have spread internationally. You might also have eaten a snack without knowing it originated in Japan!


Japanese pancakes have become a trend and have spread rapidly around the world in recent years,

thanks to social media; they are usually fluffier, thicker, and taller than American pancakes and are

often served with various toppings like fresh fruits, caramel sauce, whipped cream, and even ice cream.


Fruit Sandwiches

Japanese fruit sandwiches are relatively simple sweets, consisting of soft milk bread slices filled with

whipped cream and various fruits; they are appreciated for their taste and colorful appearance.

Fruit sandwiches

Fruit-flavored Jellies

Fruit-flavored jellies are a popular treat, particularly in Summertime due to their refreshing and cooling nature. They can be made from gelatin or nata-de-coco (fermented coconut water), and come in various fruit flavors. These jellies are often sent as seasonal gifts for their aesthetic aspect and nutritional properties.

Fruit-flavored Jellies

Most popular Japanese salty snacks

Japanese treats are not limited to sweets: you can find a wide variety of salty

snacks, such as rice crackers and chips; even though Western treats inspire some of them, they

might have traditional flavors like nori seaweed or wasabi.

Senbei (Rice Crackers)

"Senbei" are traditional rice crackers, which are pounded into flat disks or used to create a

spherical shape and then grilled or fried. Senbei is often flavored with soy sauce, sugar, and spices

and can be plain or topped with various ingredients like seaweed, sesame seeds, or nuts.

Sen bei

Squid-based Snacks

Squid is a versatile ingredient in Japanese cuisine thanks to its umami and chewy texture, and has

also been transformed into many kinds of snacks. Some popular squid-based treats include "surume."

(squid jerky, consisting of thin, dried strips of squid) and "saki-ika" (dried shredded squid); they can be

seasoned with soy sauce, garlic, kimchi, and other spices and are often enjoyed with beer.



Are Japanese chips viral overseas? They come in all shapes and sizes and many companies offer products that combine Western chips with traditional Japanese flavors such as seaweed, wasabi, shrimp, and soy sauce.

Most popular Japanese candies

Have you ever tried Japanese candies? While some of them might taste familiar, like for example, fruit-

flavored jellies, you can also find candies that taste unique, such as ume plum-flavored candies.

Ramune Candies

Ramune candies are inspired by the popular "ramune" soda and are often packaged in a bottle-shaped

container. They are loved not only for their taste but also because of the nostalgic association with the

ramune drink.

Ramune Candies

Milk Candies

There are many types of milk candies in Japan: they might resemble the taste of milk or have particular flavors like strawberry and milk, matcha and milk, and chocolate and milk.

Yuzu Gummies

Yuzu is a citrus fruit native to East Asia, known for its tangy taste; it is largely used to flavor many dishes

such as noodles, seafood, wagashi, and even tea. Yuzu gummies are a tasty and refreshing treat

appreciated by people of all ages, from kids to older adults.

Where to buy Japanese treats

Trying Japanese treats is a unique and tasty experience. While enjoying the taste of popular sweets and

snacks, you can discover the usage of traditional ingredients in wagashi and the influence of Western

flavors on Japanese companies. You may buy Japanese treats inside and outside the country: let's

see some of the markets from which you can taste the most delicious side of Japanese culture and

everyday life!

Where to buy Japanese treats when coming to Japan

Of all the treats we discussed in this article, you may find almost everything in a Japanese supermarket. Many department stores specializing in traditional confectionery will offer you all kinds of wagashi, from classical Japanese sweets to more fancy options. We also recommend entering a so-called "dagashiya" store: here, you will find an incredible number of cheap yet delicious sweet and salty snacks.

Where to buy Japanese treats in your home country

Buying Japanese treats might sound complicated if you live outside Japan, but don't worry! Many online services deliver Japanese sweets and snacks to foreign countries; for example, JAPANBITE offers a subscription service for wagashi, rice crackers, and green tea that you would find only in Japan.

So why don't you experience a bit of Japan at your home? It would be an exciting and worthwhile experience!

Author Bio

Hideo Takahashi

Hideo Takahashi

Born in Tokyo in 1990. Founder of JAPANBITE and CEO of its operating company, GRID Start, Ltd.
Established the company in 2023 after being a consultant of IT infrastructure.
Inspired by his travels to 15 countries and a deep love for Japanese food, he launched a service to contribute to small local Japanese manufacturers' businesses and allow many foreigners to enjoy Japanese culture.

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