Where to Buy Kit Kats in Tokyo

The best place to buy regional Kit Kats in Tokyo is at the Shokoku Gotochi Plaza. The shop is in the basement mall of Tokyo Station near the Tokyo Ramen Street, across the hallway from Rokurinsha ramen shop.

Kit Kat in Japan makes regional flavors that are usually only sold in that region. The Shokoku Gotochi Plaza features regional food items from throughout Japan, which is why the shop also sells these regional Kit Kats.

https://d.nestle.jp/kitkat/omiyage/

Some examples are wasabi, beni imo (purple sweet potato), azuki, mattcha, hōjicha (roasted green tea), strawberry, and more.

The Tokyo Station underground mall is huge. I get lost in there from time to time and I have a good sense of direction. The underground mall is divided into different sections and the Shokoku Gotochi Plaza is part of an area called “First Avenue Tokyo Station”, in Japanese, “Tokyo Eki Ichibangai”. Here is a map in English:

http://www.tokyoeki-1bangai.co.jp/pdf/floorMap_foreign.pdf

Shop hours are listed as 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., seven days a week.

Shokoku Gotochi Plaza

 

Hiroshima – Obscura Coffee Roasters

Obscura Coffee Roasters in Tokyo’s young Sangenjaya district has a branch in Hiroshima. The location is sweet as it is in the city center and easy to access to department stores and the Peace Park. It opens at 9 a.m. and has plenty of seating. The front window on this quiet side street brings in sunlight to the communal table. There are a handful of tables to the side.

I love the small details of this shop. Carpets on the cement floor that reminded me of Marrakech. To receive cash from customers the shop has an Ontayaki saucer.

I visited twice during our time in Hiroshima. The first time on a rainy day it was quiet. Just myself and another woman cupping her mug and taking in the aroma of the coffee. A few customers came in to get beans to take home. On my second visit on a sunny day it was busy.

Both the pour over and the latte were nice. The staff is very friendly and helpful in advising which coffee I would like. Another bonus is that it is just around the corner from Yours Supermarket. Yours has a great selection of Hiroshima products in the front of the shop, perfect for picking up omiyage to bring back for your friends.

Obscura Coffee Roasters

Hiroshima-ken, Hiroshima-shi, Naka-ku, Fukuromachi 3-28

〒730-0036 広島県広島市中区袋町3-28

http://obscura-coffee.com/hiroshima/

In Tokyo the Kanda Manseibashi location is very convenient to the Tokyo city center. This is a take-away shop with a few seats in front of the shop if the weather is good.

 

 

 

Omiyage – Kamakura Hato Sable

Hato1

Kamakura Hato Sable

Omiyage (oh-me-yah-gay) are gifts that are given to friends, family, and work colleagues. Omiyage are often associated with a region or a particular ingredient. The whole culture of omiyage is complicated. It is often expected that whenever you take a trip that you will return with omiyage. As an office worker, by going on vacation or on a business trip you are inconveniencing your colleagues as they cover for your absence. A small gift from your travels is a nice way to thank them for their efforts.

But, the obligation of having to bring back omiyage can be frustrating. Decisions not only on what to buy, but for who to buy for, and more importantly, how much money to spend on all of this. It can take some of the fun away from your holidays. There are rules that help define all of this, for example, not spending too much.

Bringing back omiyage can also be loads of fun. Coming across something unique that you know a dear friend will appreciate. Or you try something new that is so delicious that you just have to share it.

Hato packaging

Hato Sable Packaging

Kamakura is a lovely beachside town south of Tokyo. One of its popular omiyage is the Hato Sable. Sablé are buttery sugar cookies, here in the shape of a pigeon (hato). Japanese love presentation and here is the packaging for five cookies, a simple paper box with handles. It is 540 JPY for a package of five, or about $5 USD. Larger quantities are sold in tin boxes.

The Hato Sable originated in the Meiji period, in 1894. At the time some of the key ingredients for sablé were very expensive and not found in most homes, making these a treat as a gift. The company, Toshimaya, is now a fourth generation shop and you’ll find these in many department stores throughout the country.

Many depachika sell popular omiyage from around the country. So even if you have returned from your trip and you realize you have forgotten someone, you might be able to pick up a gift from your local department store.

www.hato.co.jp/hato/index.html

Tsuruya Supermarket in Nagano

Nagano Oyaki

Nagano Oyaki

We love visiting local supermarkets when we travel. Tsuruya is a chain of supermarkets in Nagano that has been on our Go List since it was featured on a television program. It has a strong private brand (PB) program that is very popular with their customers. These items on this blogpost are all PB products from Tsuruya.

First of all, we picked up some oyaki. These are flour-based dumplings that are stuffed with different fillings. We picked up sansai (mountain vegetables), piri kara nasu (spicy eggplant), and Nozawa-na (pickled Nozawa greens). The expiration date for oyaki is often a day or two so we picked up enough for dinner on the day we came back to Tokyo. These do actually freeze well. To cook them up we just put them in a hot non-stick pan and grill on both sides.

Tsuruya jam and juice

Tsuruya jam and juice

Nagano is a big producer of apples and we picked up a refreshing apple juice. There was a big selection of jams, including kyoho, an aromatic Japanese grape and a lovely black sesame paste that has a little sugar in it (not in the photo).

Tsuruya private brand products

Tsuruya private brand products

There were some dried fruit, including lemon and apples. We also loved the karinto, traditional Japanese sweets that came in flavors like apple and gobo (burdock root). The karinto were well received by friends as a small gift from our travels. I only wish I had bought more.

Tsuruya Maruyama Coffee

Tsuruya Maruyama Coffee

I was so happy to find Maruyama Coffee Tsuruya Original Medium Roast Blend. Maruyama Coffee is a popular coffee shop that is based in the resort town of Karuizawa in Nagano. It is a well-balanced up with a refreshing acidity and round flavors.

Tsuruya has shops in some of the bigger cities in Nagano. The one we visited was in Matsumoto. The Tsuruya website says that it is opening a shop near Iiyama station which is on the new Hokuriku shinkansen line. Very exciting news. Worth a detour on your way to Kanazawa.

Tsuruya Supermarket

Matsumoto-shi, Nagisa 1-7-1

松本市渚1-7-1

Popular Omiyage – Baumkuchen

Image

This photo of baumkuchen comes from the Juchheim website.

Baumkuchen is a very popular omiyage, or gift, in Japan. It can be found at all depachika. This German cake is made of thin layers of cake that are baked onto a spool. At first sight the cake is a delight on the eyes as the layers are so delicate.

Image

We received this Juchheim baumkuchen as a gift at a home party and we were thrilled. It is an ideal dessert and everyone is happy to receive a baumkuchen.

Image

Other popular baumkuchen companies include:

Nenrinya at Tokyo station’s Daimaru

Club Harie at Nihonbashi Mitsukoshi

Taneya at Tobu Ikebukuro

Since I posted this I got this note from a reader. Very good to keep in mind if your travels bring you to Hiroshima.

When I read your post today I immediately felt I should tell you about another place to get real artisanal Baumkuchen. If ever you come to Hiroshima, please do not miss to visit Kyo Tagashira’s “Felderchef” in Hatsukaichi or his “Mehl” downtown Hiroshima. Kyo-san has learned in Germany and makes fabulous, authentic German cakes and bread. He is certainly worth being mentioned! 🙂

http://www.felderchef.com/felderchef.htm

He is a very pleasant guy, very serious about his work though.

Food Gifts – Omiyage from Tokyo 東京のお土産

Omiyage most often describes gifts that you pick up while traveling that you bring back to your family, friends, and colleagues. For example, on a trip to Kyoto I may select some local jizake or wagashi for friends. For my colleagues at work I may pick up a box of yatsuhashi, a popular confectionary that Kyoto is known for.

It is important when selecting gifts that they are purchased at the correct price. You don’t want to give a gift that is too expensive or the recipient may feel the need to reciprocate, often referred to as okaeshi. I learned about this while working at Takashimaya. The occasion determines not only how much would be spent on a gift, but also how it may be wrapped.

If you need to send a gift to someone bring along their address and phone number. Most shops will arrange for a delivery service, many times for next-day delivery.

The gift-giving ritual in Japan is for another blog post, so for now, just my tips on what to look for and some suggestions for some of my favorite gifts from Tokyo. And as we enter the holidays, if you are invited to a friend’s home, consider bringing along one of the items listed below as a show of your appreciation.

Tips – look for gentei or limited production items. Shun or kisetsu are used to describe seasonal items. Alternatively, koko de shika meaning that the produce is sold only there or ima shika – that it is only being sold for a limited period.

Some popular omiyage at the moment include Baumkuchen, sweets in the form of a small sandwich, or rusks which are toasts, usually sweetened with sugar and maybe some butter.

Here are my favorite gifts from Tokyo.

Sawanoi Bon

Sawanoi Bon

Tokyo has a surprising number of sake kura (breweries) and this always makes for a nice gift for anyone who appreciates nihonshu. My personal favorite Tokyo sake is Sawa no I from Ome in Okutama (Western Tokyo in the mountains). On a personal note, I love this sake so much we served it at our wedding. Sake can be purchased at the sake department in depachika. Alternatively, Hasegawa Saketen is a wonderful sake shop with a few branches in the city.

Japanese knives are the perfect gift for anyone who loves to cook. Here is my list of knife shops in Tokyo.

Nishiki Hourin Karintou

Nishiki Hourin Karintou

Karintou from Nishiki Hourin.   These sweet crackers come in flavors like shichimi tougarashi (seven spice), negi miso (leek and miso), kinpira gobo (burdock root and carrot), and kuro koshou (black pepper). The shop is in Tokyo station’s basement in an area called GranSta. It’s easy to find as there is usually a long line. The karintou are sold in small packs so it is fun to pick up a few different flavors. This is an example of koko shika as the karintou can only be bought here – nowhere else in the world.

Yoku Moku Cigare

Yoku Moku Cigare

Yoku Moku is a Japanese confectionary shop specializing in Western confectionaries. In particular, I love their cigares which are sold in pastel tins. Think delicately thin butter cookies rolled into a cigare. I often bring this as an omiyage as a hostess gift. Yoku Moku can be found in almost every depachika.

Confectionary West

Confectionary West

Leaf Pie from Confectionary West are another popular Western style cookie that is rich with butter and sugar. The main branch is in Ginza but most depachika also sell these addictive cookies.

Mamegen's Shiokaki

Mamegen’s Shiokaki

For some savory osembei (rice crackers)  look no further than the shiokaki from Mamegen in Azabu Juban. I usually buy these as omiyage for myself. Like Doritos or whatever chips you are addicted to, you can’t stop once you start. Mamegen is known for their flavored nuts and beans in fun flavors like wasabi, mattcha, or uni. Mamegen also can be found in most depachika.

For traditional wagashi (Japanese confectionaries) I always find myself going to Suzukake in Shinjuku Isetan. I am a sucker for its simple packaging and no matter what you get, it is always delicious. In particular, ask for the seasonal  nama wagashi.

For more modern wagashi, check out the mattcha babaloa from Kinozen in Kagurazaka or the confectionaries at Higashiya Ginza.

Yagenbori

Yagenbori

For a special gift, create your own shichimi (seven spice) from Yagenbori in Asakusa (Asakusa 1-28-3). The shop sells its own recommended version, but you can develop your own flavor on the spot. Be sure to pick up a wooden dispenser while there (see photo above).

Lemon's Grapefruit Jelly

Lemon’s Grapefruit Jelly

Finally, for a real treat, select some seasonal fresh fruit from Sembikiya or Lemon or Takano. Melon is perhaps the most famous food gift, notably for its price which can be a few hundred dollars for one. But there are a variety of fruit that changes throughout the season and at a variety of prices. My cousin is a big fan of the fruit jellies which are packaged in the shell of the fruit.

Got a question about my favorite nori shop in Tsukiji Market. It is Maruyama and their information is listed below in the comments section.

Perhaps the most popular food gift at the moment from Tokyo Station for visitors to Japan is the regional flavored Kit Kats. I list the shop in this Metropolis article.

Support Tohoku – Kessenuma Shop in Ginza

Kessenuma Shop

Kessenuma Shop

Antenna shops showcase food and other products from a certain area, usually a prefecture in Japan. I love to shop at antenna shops for hard-t0-find shochu, sake, regional seafood, and other items like miso. It is a good place to pick up omiyage for friends, or things for yourself.

Recently in Ginza, across the street from the Sony building, a shop featuring the food of Kesenuma, in Miyagi prefecture. A restaurant on the second floor is scheduled to open from November 3rd. Tuna and sanma are two seafood that Kesenuma is known for so look for these, and much more, at the restaurant. Kesenuma is a big seafood port that was hit by the tsunami.  The space for the shop was offered to the city of Kesenuma rent-free and the shop is expected to remain open until August 2012.

The Asahi newspaper reports that other cities that have been affected, like Hachinohe, Kamaishi, Ishinomaki, and Iwaki, may also be participating in the antenna shop.

Chuo-ku, Ginza 5-2-1

Tokyo Station Omiyage – Nihonbashi Nishiki Hourin 日本橋錦豊琳

Nihonbashi Nishiki Hourin

Nihonbashi Nishiki Hourin

Karintou are traditional sweet confectionaries made from a flour based cracker that is fermented and then is deep-fried and covered with a sugar coating. The sugar coating can be a white sugar but many times it is a dark sugar coating that is rich in minerals. The cracker can have different ingredients folded into it like mattcha, peanuts, soybeans, or sesame seeds.

In the basement of Tokyo Station’s GranSta area is a very, very popular booth selling karintou called Nihonbashi Nishiki Hourin. I have never seen the shop without a long line. The variety of flavors is what makes this shop a lot of fun: ginger, coffee, vegetables, shichimi tougarashi, black pepper, and kinpira gobou. The packaging is perfect for picking up a variety of flavors as they are small packs priced at 330 JPY.

kinpira gobou

kinpira gobou

Nihonbashi Nishiki Hourin

Chiyoda-ku, Marunouchi 1-9-1, Tokyo Station GranSta B1

8:00 – 22:00 (closes at 21:00 on Sunday and holidays)