Flavours of the month: Japan-exclusive KitKats

KitKats. Not the most Japanese thing ever. Or so you’d think.

Japan’s where you can find some of the weirdest, rarest KitKat flavours, and the most variety. No other country can boast as many types of KitKats. Nowhere comes close to the hundreds of KitKat editions made for the Japanese market.

Here’s a taster.

Green tea, almond and double berry

We’ve seen at least 4 other kinds of green tea/matcha KitKats around. Deep flavour matcha, ‘adult’ matcha, Uji matcha, Uji matcha from a specific tea shop, ‘the whole leaf’ matcha. Sometimes, tea tastes even better when you stir more sweetness in.

Green tea wasn’t first with the ‘fruit and nut sprinkle’ topping. It came out after the original milk chocolate ‘Everyday Luxury’ bars got popular. And it’s being followed by a yogurt version.

Tokyo Banana

As far as we know, bananas don’t grow in Tokyo. Against all odds, Tokyo Banana’s achieved city souvenir status. Only brands with something special do KitKat collabs – you’ll see a few more below, but they’re rare.

Every mini Tokyo Banana KitKat bar‘s printed with that cute banana symbol. Y’know, in case you forget what you’re eating mid-bite. Happens to everyone.

Hokkaido melon with mascarpone

Special edition regional flavour KitKats are only sold in certain places. Well, until they get listed online, that is… The melon KitKats with mascarpone cheese started as a limited special at Hokkaido’s Shin-Chitose airport.

Hokkaido melon is famous both within and outside Japan for the taste and quality, especially the yubari melon variety. Those things can be worth a lot. Luckily the KitKats aren’t crazy expensive.

Iyokan

An orange, if you’re not picky about the name. It’s a type of small mandarin orange, one widely grown in Japan. Not a satsuma or a tangerine, but kinda similar.

Why make the extra effort for a specific orange flavour? Makes perfect sense for the Japan market. Iyokan sounds like ‘ii yokan’, a good premonition. KitKats are already lucky, ’cause they sound like ‘you’ll probably win’ in Japanese.

Nodo ame (cough drop candy)

That dude you don’t recognise on the box is former football player, manager and commentator, Matsuki Yasutaro. Used to be on the Japan national team. Now, yells enough during matches that KitKat made a ‘cough drops’ edition for him.

There’s real powdered nodo ame candy (2.1%) mixed into the chocolate. Who needs medicine when you can eat KitKats all day?

Citrus (Koshien edition)

Full name: ‘Aah, citrus of our youth’ flavour. Why the nostalgia? Citrus KitKats exist to support youth baseball. About 10 yen from every pack sold goes to local teams, via the Japan Rubber Baseball Association.

Anyone who’s watched a teen baseball anime knows what Koshien looks like. It’s all over the box. The youthful blend of unshu mikan orange, lemon, and sudachi lime recreates that bittersweet feeling of sucking at team sports.

Sake

Alcoholic KitKats (like rum and raisin, or amazake) sell really well. Wonder why that is…

So far, we’ve seen 2 takes on the rice wine flavour. One’s the standard ‘Japanese sake’ edition, and the other’s a collab with Masuizumi sake brewery in Toyama. Will sake KitKats get you drunk? Doubt it. The amount of real alcohol in them’s tiny – under 1%.

Wasabi

A Shizuoka/Kanto special flavour, made with Shizuoka’s finest Tamaruya wasabi. Be careful if you can’t read Japanese, or you’re in a rush – the box is as green as the ‘green tea’ flavours, and you seriously don’t wanna mix those up.

Using decent wasabi’s important to the taste. The cheapo stuff, in tear-open packets at conveyor belt sushi restaurants, isn’t as good.

Momiji manju

Moving on to a Hiroshima exclusive, inspired by momiji maple leaves. Momiji manju are leaf-shaped, and filled with sweet red bean paste. The KitKats feature that leaf pattern, the design fusing the mini bars together at the top.

We’ve got momiji over here at Minoh too, and (weirdly good) deep fried crunchy maple leaves. Hoping for that special edition next.

Sakura kinako

Spring in Japan turns everything pink. If a sakura edition KitKat flavour didn’t exist, the world might end.

Sakura by itself… ain’t all that tasty. That’s why flavoured stuff, like a sakura latte or a sakura matcha latte, has a stronger taste mixed in to boost it. So the sakura in some KitKats is matched with kinako roasted soy bean flour.

Win with Japan’s awesome KitKat flavours

You’ll find all of the KitKats we talked about here, a bunch of regional/limited editions, and loads more on DEJAPAN. Can’t narrow it down? Get a selection box, or ask us for advice (we’ve eaten more KitKats than we should admit to in public).

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