The Japanese KITKAT Journey - Taste testing

The Japanese KITKAT Journey - Taste testing

Update: 17 November 2017

It is a really popular chocolate in the UK, yet in recent years it has gained a new worldwide fame for making a small, yet impactful, change to the flavors of its products. As you might have already guessed, the brand’s name is KitKat! In other parts of the world is it just a milk chocolate-covered wafer, but in Japan it has been produced in over 300 flavors – the most famous perhaps being green tea and wasabi, but there has even been special limited edition flavors such as sushi! This is leading to a new trend in tourists visiting Japan – many people buy KitKat to take home as souvenirs and for personal consumption – but now we can also talk about people who come to Japan as KitKat connoisseurs eager to try new flavors.

KitKat Japan’s Story Begins

In 2014 they opened their first KitKat Chocolatory in Japan, which was a KitKat specialty store where exclusive flavors supervised by famous chef can be sampled. From humble origins the KitKat has become a luxury item! On top of that, certain flavors of KitKat are now associated with different areas of Japan with their own special packaging, which means that a traveler can arrive in Tokyo and then start a combined tour of both Japan and regional KitKat tastes.

East Japan Varieties - Tokyo

East Japan Varieties - Tokyo

So for this new breed of traveler, a Japan and KitKat connoisseur who has just eagerly arrived at Narita airport, where should they begin? Probably with a tour of Tokyo, and a taste of the Tokyo Souvenir: Rum Raisin KitKat! This KitKat is sold in blue packaging, and is easy to recognize without being able to read Japanese as there is a picture of a glass of rum and some raisins. The KitKat itself is covered in white chocolate and has a nice smell of chocolate with a faint aroma of raisin. When you bite into it there is a very subtle taste of rum raisin mixed with the satisfying crunch of wafer.

KitKat - Rum Raisin Chocolate Box
Price: 800 yen (+tax./12 Mini Bar)

Yokohama

Yokohama

As you are in Tokyo it is quite easy to pop down to Yokohama, and after looking around the port you can try the next regional flavor in your tour. This is a very popular one, Strawberry Cheese Cake! Its packaging is decorated with a picture of a mouthwatering cheesecake, while the KitKat itself is covered in white chocolate. It has a sweet smell, but the flavor indeed tastes like strawberry cheesecake. Any visit to Japan has to include Mt. Fuji. There are a variety of options for getting here from Tokyo/Yokohama as it isn’t too far away, and the KitKat flavor for this region is a gorgeously wrapped, mountain-like, Strawberry Cheese Cake!

KitKat - Strawberry Cheese Cake Chocolate Box
Price: 800 yen (+tax./12 Mini Bar)

Tochigi

Tochigi

Having explored Tokyo and Yokohama, it is time to head out and begin your KitKat-Japan journey, the next stop being Tochigi prefecture! The easiest method to get here is by shinkansen. From Tokyo it is just a 50 minute journey to Utsunomiya (which is famous for gyoza), and from here you can reach other parts of Tochigi such as Nikko. The Tochigi KitKat is Tochi-Otome Strawberry, a pink KitKat with a very strong smell of strawberry. This KitKat has a milky strawberry taste, as it is quite sweet it makes a perfect kind of chocolate to eat after a meal as a dessert.

KitKat - Tochiotome Strawberry Cholocate Box
Price: 800 yen (+tax./12 Mini Bar)

Central Japan Selections - Shizuoka

Central Japan Selections - Shizuoka

Fuji is also in the prefecture of Shizuoka, so while you are here you can try another regional KitKat gem, and possibly one of the more infamous flavors, Tamaruya Honten Wasabi. Wasabi (Japanese horseradish), the famous pale green sushi condiment, can be an acquired taste for some. This chocolate has a more unusual green color, it doesn’t have any noticeable spicy or wasabi smell, but once you pop it into your mouth you can taste the characteristic wasabi flavoring straight away. It is just a light taste though, so you don’t have to worry about rushing for a glass of water!

KitKat - Wasabi Chocolate Box
Price: 800 yen (+tax./12 Mini Bar)

Nagano

Nagano

The next stop on this KitKat journey is Nagano prefecture, which used to be known as Shinshu, located in central Honshu. You can head here by shinkansen, via Tokyo, to Karuizawa, from which you can access other cities like Nagano itself. The souvenir KitKat for this region is the Shinshu Apple flavor. Covered in normal milk chocolate, this KitKat has a faint apple aroma, but when you taste it your taste buds are greeted with a strong, and sweet, apple taste.

KitKat - Shinshu Apple Chocolate Box
Price: 800 yen (+tax./12 Mini Bar)

Aichi

Aichi

The Tokai area includes Aichi, Gifu, and Mie – you can reach here directly from Nagano or via Tokyo, and in cities like Nagoya you can try the souvenir, Azuki (red bean) Sandwich flavor! This is a more acquired taste, if you haven’t tried red beans before then this KitKat might seem more than a bit unusual. It has the normal coloring of a KitKat, but don’t be fooled - when you take a bite the red bean taste overpowers the chocolate. It has a strong bitter taste. In other words, if you like red beans then you will love this flavor!

KitKat - Azuki Bean (Sweet Bean Jelly) Chocolate Box
Price: 800 yen (+tax./12 Mini Bar), 350 yen (+tax./9 Mini Bar)

Kyoto

Kyoto

There are certain locations in Japan that are at the top of any list of areas to visit, and Kyoto is one of them. Easily reachable via shinkansen this small city has been graced with two regional flavors, Itohkyuemon Uji Matcha (Green Tea) and Itohkyuemon Roasted Tea. With a tradition spanning over 185 years, Kyoto-based Itohkyuemon’s green teas have been highly acclaimed by tourists and locals alike. Indeed, Kyoto is the perfect place for experiencing the Japanese Tea Ceremony, and it is fitting that you can try the brilliant taste of green tea in a KitKat. It has a green color, but has a mainly chocolate smell to the nose, and if you break the KitKat in half then you will get the faint aroma of tea. The taste is mild and mellow, with a perfect balance between the wafer, and its chocolate and green tea flavor is decadent – this is one to leave in your mouth and let it melt so that you can really enjoy the taste.

The second flavor of Kyoto is Roasted Tea; this one itself has a rather odd greenish-brown color and a strong smell of tea. When you eat it there is a very strong distinctive tea taste and it is a little bit sweet. While not as famous as its green tea sibling, it has a very satisfying taste.

KitKat - Itohkyuemon Uji Matcha (Green Tea) Chocolate Box
Price: 800 yen (+tax./12 Mini Bar), 350 yen (+tax./5 Mini Bar)

KitKat - Itohkyuemon Roasted Tea Chocolate Box
Price: 800 yen (+tax./12 Mini Bar), 350 yen (+tax./5 Mini Bar)

Hyogo

Hyogo

From Kyoto it is very easy to reach Kobe, which is near Osaka, where you can try the Kobe Souvenir of Kobe Pudding! It has a sweet taste, but otherwise it really has a pudding flavor. It is great to crunch on while walking around this small city.

KitKat - Kobe pudding Chocolate Box
Price: 800 yen (+tax./12 Mini Bar)

West Japan Specialties - Hiroshima

West Japan Specialties - Hiroshima

The next KitKat is a special one – the Hiroshima Momiji Manju flavor. It has its own shape! The surface has been decorated with an autumn leaf, so this is really a KitKat like no other. For those unacquainted with this sweet, manju is a kind of steamed bun filled with azuki bean jam, and the KitKat version does its namesake proud: there is bean paste powder between the wafers, and the chocolate incorporates momiji manju flavoring.

KitKat - Momiji manju Chocolate Box
Price: 800 yen (+tax./12 Mini Bar), 350 yen (+tax./5 Mini Bar)

Fukuoka

Fukuoka

Having travelled across Japan the final stops are Kyushu and Okinawa. From Hiroshima it is very easy to get to cities like Fukuoka where you can try the Kyushu Souvenir of Amaou Strawberry. This is a pink KitKat with a faint strawberry smell, in comparison to Tochi-Otome Strawberry flavor the strawberry taste isn’t as strong, but it is somehow slightly richer.

KitKat - Amaou Strawberry Chocolate Box
Price: 800 yen (+tax./12 Mini Bar), 350 yen (+tax./5 Mini Bar)

Okinawa

Okinawa

There is another Kyushu Souvenir flavor associated with Okinawa; Purple Sweet Potato. The sweet potato KitKat has an unusual purple color! When you bite into this one you get the taste of potato and white chocolate, it is quite mild but very enjoyable. With this last KitKat you would have travelled across the breadth of Japan and would have had the opportunity to see many amazing sights, and you can now call yourself a true Japan KitKat connoisseur!

KitKat - Purple-sweetpotato Chocolate Box
Price: 800 yen (+tax./12 Mini Bar), 350 yen (+tax./5 Mini Bar)

Flavors for the Future

Flavors for the Future

Over the years KitKat has come up with over three hundred flavors, and you can try even more flavors at their chocolatory shops. One more that you probably can’t leave Japan without trying is the sake flavored KitKat; this is a white chocolate KitKat with a faint sweet smell and a taste that has a light tang of sake. This is just one amongst many more flavors to try, so even as your journey in japan comes to an end your KitKat journey is only just beginning!

KitKat - Japanese sake "Manjusen" Cholocate Box
Price: 700 yen (+tax./ 9 Mini Bar)

*This information is from the time of this article's publication.

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