think the first question any normal person asks themselves when faced with the prospect of travelling to a marvellous place they have always wanted to visit is: What yummy food can I expect to ingest??? So naturally, if you are ever going to spend Halloween in Japan, you should really know about the candy!
I have written about the Japanese Halloween tradition and celebration before. In short, it’s a fairly recent holiday there and not all of the traditions have been adopted. For instance, there is no trick or treating. And since the custom basically involves disturbing strangers at home for an entire evening and threatening them in order to extort free candy, I have a feeling it may never become popular in Japan. It just seems like a very unJapanese thing to do.
And so, this has been replaced by something the Japanese do very well, Festivals, Fairs and street parties. YAY! And so, although there is no need to stock up on mini chocolate bars for trick or treaters, there are still some seasonal offerings in Japan that can put you in the Halloween spirit.
One of the first and cutest things I came across when “researching” this post is the adorable Sanrio branded Halloween cookies. Sadly they seem to be a Bokksu exclusive and I’m sorry to say that they are both sold out and way too overprices. 13$ for two cookies is pushing it guy… The cookies themselves sound delicious but they are chocolate and vanilla flavoured without any autumn or Halloween decorations. It’s really just the cute packaging that makes them seasonal.
You can find them here: https://www.bokksu.com/products/sanrio-cookie-assor.
Bokksu guarantees that their products are authentic to the Japanese experience so even if you can’t find these exact cookies there, you should be able to find something very similar.
Next up, more cookies. Specifically Lotte’s Koala Cookies. I can actually find these in Canada so I know they are super yummy. They are thin vanilla flavoured cookies filled with cream, usually chocolate but there are green tea and strawberry available at my grocery as well. And of course, they are koala shaped. The Halloween version is the same but the koalas are costumed! Isn’t that the cutest thing! A portion of the sales does go to the Australian Koala foundation so even if you’re not in Japan, why not grab a box or 10.
Ginza’s Cozy Corner has a great assortment of tasty Halloween themed cookies, cakes and puddings, including Halloween Disney themed assortments. Along with more common flavours such as meringue and vanilla, there has been a lot of rich crème anglaise and sweet pumpkin added for the occasion.
A year-round treat that also happens to be very convenient for the season is Konpeitō. These are actually just little coloured star-shaped hard sugar candies. The treat is originally from Portugal but it was adopted in Japan and has been consistently popular throughout the years. It’s easy to carry, doesn’t melt and looks great which would make it ideal for handing out.
Kobe’s Anténor Bakery has some Halloween themed sweets in these great Black Cat boxes. The cookies themselves are in fact assorted cat tongue cookies in chocolate and lemon flavours. I love cat tongues cookies but have only ever seen vanilla flavoured ones. It didn’t occur to me to make some other flavours. I will try to make some matcha ones shaped like witches’ fingers for Halloween.
Of course, you can’t forget the quintessential Japanese snack (at least for us limited westerners): Pocky. Most of their flavours come with special Halloween themed packaging for the season, including the very appropriate pumpkin flavour. Sadly I have never been able to find it here…
Tokyo’s prestigious AMAN hotel serves a Halloween themed high tea for the occasion. If you scroll down, it’s the third item on the page. If you’ve never had high tea at a fancy hotel, you should, at least once, for the experience. And no matter the time of year, I highly recommend going in costume. I can be a fancy rich person costume.
The lavish spread includes Japanese favourite Montblanc with chocolate bats, ghostly Okinawa sweet potato tarts, and client’s choice of themed macaroons, puddings, cakes and homemade caramel candies. The description did mention that there is a witch shaped savoury treat available, as well as a frightening pressed sardine cream. Unfortunately, I was unable to figure out what those beautiful spun pumpkins on top of the platter are. I very much want to eat them now…
Finally, for those of us with more modest tastes, there are also of course an assortment of convenience store candies and snacks all dressed up for the occasion. As some of you may know, convenience stores in Japan are highly individualized so it pays to check a few different ones out if you want to discover a special treat.
As you can see, there are fewer of those autumnal flavours going on. I don’t think I saw a single “pumpkin spice” anything. For the record, actual pumpkin and pumpkin spice are rather different flavours. There are of eastern European pumpkin dishes and they taste nothing like the pumpkin flavours I get in Canada.
Generally speaking, it seems like you can expect a bit more baked goods such as cookies and cakes for Halloween in Japan and a lot fewer chocolate bars and hard candies. I hope you weren’t holding your breath for a fun-sized snickers. However, consider Japan’s general love affair with Kit Kats and the huge variety available in the country, I think it’s safe to say that you will be able to find some type of Halloween Kit Kat if you really want to.
So are you hungry yet? Honestly, I would really love to taste those afternoon tea treats as well as the cat tongue cookies. Those are my favourites from this list. For the record, I don,t think I have a favourite Halloween treat. I tend to prefer savoury things so it’s not the best holiday for me. I wouldn’t say no to those Kit Kats though.