by Bryce Marley
It's a candy bar known the world over for its delicious chocolate and wafer fingers, however you really don't know anything about the wonder that is the simple Kit Kat until you visit Japan. Today Japlanning is letting you in on the number one candy people bring home from Japan, the Kit Kat.
The Kit Kat isn't native to Japan, it originates from the United Kingdom, however Japan, has adopted this chocolate treat like one of their own and it has become a must buy souvenir for most tourists (domestic and foreign) in Japan.
The Japanese have a tradition of bringing gifts back for family and friends when they travel (don't we all!), however they tend to buy sweets and candies in beautiful souvenir boxes showing where they have been. So all over Japan, at any tourist type attraction, you will find massive selections of beautiful boxes of snacks and sweets to purchase for those back home. Just take a look at Tokyo Disneyland, they have an entire store that only stocks these packs!
With this tradition, Nestle have produced countless Kit Kat boxes, and you will find them all over Japan. In fact they now have many Kit Kat flavours that are produced just for certain regions in Japan, so if you see a flavour you love in any part of Japan, you are best to buy it just in case you don't see it elsewhere. At the international terminals, you will find many shops selling a huge variety of flavours, however those regional specialties won't make an appearance, unless the airport is in that region!
Another big appeal of the Kit Kat to the Japanese market is they are often bought as a good luck gift for loved ones as the name "Kit Kat" is similar to the Japanese phrase "Kitto Katsu" which translates to "surely win" in English, so many will buy these Kit Kat boxes for loved ones about to take exams or start a new job.
Since the year 2000, Japan has released over 200 different flavour varieties, from the normal kinds like strawberry, orange, citrus, passionfruit, to the more bizarre ones like ginger ale, soy sauce, even wasabi flavoured Kit Kats can be found today. Some of the most popular flavours today are green tea, sakura, créme brulé, strawberry cheesecake, blueberry cheesecake (which you can get in a Mt. Fiji shaped box!)
Now we know what your thinking, "if it is truly a loved food in Japan, where are the vending machines?", well don't fret - you can find Kit Kats in vending machines across Japan, in fact, they are one of the few food items you can sometimes find in drink vending machines, thanks to them being packaged in neat glass jars for vending machines!
With Japan's obsession with the wafer treat, it should come to no surprise that in January this year, the Kit Kat Chocolatory opened its doors in Tokyo!
This is the world's first Kit Kat store opened in Ikebukuro in the Seibu department store. Here you will find many varieties of Kit Kat, many exclusive regional ones available in the one store, such as sakura green tea, Japanese chilli, even an edamame flavoured Kit Kat is available.
The store also has its famous sublime Kit Kat, which is a bitter chocolate blend, limited to a hand-made batch of just 300 a day. So if you're thinking of trying this rarity, you will be lining up early, as they sell out every day. One of the limited bars is 315 yen.
Also in the store you will find unique art pieces inspired by the candy bar, as well as a history display of the Kit Kat.
The Chocolatory is Japan's very own Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory for Kit Kat lovers and is a must stop for any KK lover.
The Kit Kat Chocolatory is located in Seibu department store, on the basement floor. Seibu is located as part of the JR Ikebukuro Station complex, just follow the signs to Seibu from the station platform to get to the Chocolatory. The Chocolatory is open daily from 10am to 9pm. For more information check out Seibu's Japanese website here.
So now that you are equipped the knowledge of the expansive Japanese world of the simple Kit Kat, a great site to check out is Nestle Japan's Kit Kat page, which has a cute map of Japan and shows off the current regional Kit Kats on sale across the country. The truly dedicated Kit Kat aficionado would make a special trip to some areas for their favourite flavour!