The Best Place to Buy Elusive Cherry Blossom KitKats in Japan
If you've ever planned a dream vacation to Japan, you've inevitably read about the KitKats. According to Nestle, "650 KitKat fingers are consumed every second worldwide," but the melty-crunchy wafer bars are most beloved in Japan. This is partly because their name sounds similar to the Japanese phrase for good luck, Kitto Katsu ("you'll win for sure!"), but unusual flavors like roasted tea, strawberry cheesecake and even wasabi also fuel the country's collective passion.
So mind-blowing KitKats are everywhere in Tokyo, right? Wrong. On a recent trip, I only ever spotted KitKat's boring classic flavor at convenience stores including Family Mart and 7-Eleven (one of the only places that accepts American ATM cards mind you, since most banks don't). My quest to find a seasonal cherry blossom flavor (a.k.a. sakura) lasted at least 10 days. (By quest, I mean I scanned candy aisles when buying bottles of water.) The new KitKat Chocolatory in Tokyo's Seibu department store would have been a prime place to look, but after having wonderfully floral and fragrant sakura eclairs and other artisanal confections throughout the trip, I chose not to drag my companion across town for KitKats on our last day.
So here's the happy ending: you can buy boxes of KitKats at the airport upon your departure! Different shops, including pharmacies, stock flavors like in-season sakura, matcha, chocolate-chili and wasabi (which tastes as weird as you might expect). The made-in-Japan sweets make fantastic, cheap souvenirs and most are really delicious. Sakura combines a wonderful green tea coating with the elegant cherry blossom flavor layered between its wafers. If the thrill of discovery doesn't titillate you, note that you can buy boxes of Japanese KitKats on Amazon. I might restock since the pastel sakura candies are perfect for Easter.