KitKat in Japan

For someone travelling via Japan’s vast railway network, it’s impossible to miss the small little convenient shops dotted along the platforms. It was only when I got to Japan did I come to know that these convenient shops are called ‘Kiosks’. You can buy anything from speciality bento boxes to manga. These convenient kiosks made my travels across Japan even more fun.

Anyway, as the title suggests, today I’m writing about KitKat chocolate and not kiosks. I mentioned these kiosks as this is where I first saw unusual flavoured KitKat bars and immediately bought a few bars (conscious of not coming across as a greedy foreigner!) Kiosks similar to the one above are stocked with a range of exciting confectionery, but I soon realised you’ve got to be quick to catch them. What do I mean by that? Well you’ve got to be quick to catch them not because the Japanese have a higher rate of ‘sweet-tooth syndrome’ but because continuous evolution of a product range is the key to survival for consumer goods in Japan. It is well known that Japanese consumers are the most demanding in the world
not only in terms of the quality but quality of packaging and visual presentation i.e product aesthetics are just as important!

These are some of my favourite Japanese confectionary. None of these are from the West. However one old favourite has managed to keep head above water in Japan: KitKat.

Multipack of Meji Best 3 Chocolates I bought from Osaka.

Initially KitKat was developed as a four-finger wafer crisp in London in 1935 and was then known as ‘Rowntree’s Chocolate Crisp’ and then later re-named as KitKat Chocolate Crisp. The name change alone is the reason KitKat became so popular in Japan…confused? Well what if I said much of KitKat’s success in Japan is to do with the name sounding very similar to ‘Kitto Katsu‘ which roughly means “To win surely” or “You are to be successful” It’s a term of good luck often used by students before their exams, but to the likes of Nestle it probably sounded more like “Ka-chinngg!”

Delicious Matcha and Strawberry flavoured KitKat

Having cracked the code by tapping into Japan’s love of all things ‘kawaii’ (かわいい), Nestlé has reportedly released over 200 special edition flavours of the chocolate bar since the year 2000.

From strawberry and green tea to flavours specific to the 47 prefectures of Japan; in the good ol Japanese style, Nestle have produced souvenir editions around holidays and special events! Check these out…

Right…time for a cuppa and some Matcha KitKat…. Don’t forget to follow me for more Nihontastic stuff @Nihontastic

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