August 23, 2012

Kit Kats in Japan: A Journey

As a chocoholic, one of my main goals in Japan was to collect as many Kit Kats as possible. In New Zealand, we just have the standard milk chocolate, caramel, and cookies 'n cream chocolate bars. But I had fond memories of enjoying green tea, apple and strawberry flavoured Kit Kats during my time as an exchange student in Hiroshima, and I knew there were many more out there, with new seasonal and regional varieties being added each year.

Kit Kats are especially popular in Japan because the name 'Kit Kat' pronounced in Japanese sounds like 'Kitto Katsu', which roughly translates to 'certain win'. In this sense, Kit Kats have become an unusual good luck charm in Japan, particularly among students sitting exams who need a little bit of the old Nestle sweetness to help them towards a 'certain win'.
Green tea and vanilla
'Adult Sweetness' Raspberry
Over the course of five months, the Kit Kat collection became quite impressive indeed. Each Kit Kat came to have a story behind it - a memory of where, when and how it was obtained. A rainy day in Kyoto saw the procurement of Yatsuhashi cinnamon and Houjicha roasted tea flavoured Kit Kats, where the lady at the souvenir shop laughed and said 'foreigners love Kit Kats, don't they?'

On our trip to Miyajima, we had been disappointed because the famous floating torii had been under construction. The disappointment was quickly replaced by delight upon discovering a pack of Hiroshima Golden Citrus Kit Kats.

On the first day of summer, a reluctant visit to 7-Eleven to pay the bills resulted in the triumphant discovery of a new vanilla ice cream flavoured Kit Kat. I bought three packs, then had to get extra money out to pay the bills.
Yatsuhashi cinnamon and Houjicha roasted tea
Golden Citrus Blend
Vanilla ice cream
News quickly spread of the Kit Kat collecting mission, and soon I was bombarded with advice by Japanese friends and fellow exchange students - where to go to buy them, what flavours to look out for. I remember on a group trip to Nara, a Japanese friend gallantly went into souvenir shops asking on my behalf if they stocked any special Nara Kit Kats. It had turned into a highly competitive treasure hunt, with everyone wanting to bask in the Kit Kat glory. No expense was too great: 1050 yen, or about $16, was recklessly spent on a box of Rilakkuma hotcake flavoured Kit Kats, which came in a big fancy box, but only contained 12 little chocolate bars...
Rilakkuma hot cake
Part of the final collection
I didn't eat any of my Kit Kats until a couple of weeks before I left Japan. They were too precious, like little edible relics of my life in Japan. Then I realised they weren't going to all fit in my luggage, so I thought, bugger it, and we ended up eating most of the five months worth of Kit Kats in one night. I thought I would never be able to eat another Kit Kat again. But alas, guess what my last purchase in Japan was - at Kansai International Airport, past immigration, in the Duty Free shopping area, using my last remaining yen. Yup. Kit Kats.
Sakura green tea and 'peace' strawberry, packed into hand luggage
Blueberry cheesecake... also packed into hand luggage

11 comments:

  1. Why is Pedobear on one of the boxes?

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    1. Because -puts on Pedobear voice- HE FUCKING LOVES HOT CAKES.

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  2. omg amazing, I want to start my own collection too when I get there! I ate a pudding flavoured kit kat before when my bf got it as a present from his friend that went to Japan. I'm heading to Kansai University for an exchange in 8 days D: Found your blog and love it, your observations make me lol :P

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    1. Hey! Thanks for the comment! =D Wow, you're going to Kansai too? That's awesome! Where are you from? You'll have a great time, everyone is so nice. =)

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    2. Yup yup Kansai Uni too, pretty freaked out atm as no one from my uni is going and I dunno anyone there. I'm from Adelaide, Australia, neighbour to you fellow kiwi :D

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    3. Oh Adelaide!! Awesome! You don't know Celeste or John by any chance do you? =D I hear there are going to be around 50 new exchange students this semester so you'll be able to make heaps of friends!

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  3. Oh no I don't know them, but yesterday I met with my bf's friend Shawnee and I think she did mention them by passing. Small world XD Oh wow that is A LOT of new exchange students D: Haha that makes me feel a lot better XD Btw could you recommend me places to eat around? (hopefully lots of desserts!). I write a food blog so I'm hoping to bombard it with lots of amazing Japanese desserts :P

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    1. Cool, I've followed you so I can read about your culinary adventures in Japan! =D Gosh, there's so many places... but two seconds down the road from Kandai is a place called Uma Kara Honpo, and it sells this dish called chibi kara which is so good, and so cheap! We ate there most days. =D Lots of students go there! As for desserts, there's an all-you-can-eat restaurant in Shinsaibashi and Umeda called Sweets Paradise, which has something like 30 types of cake... definitely worth a visit!

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    2. Awww yayyy, I really enjoyed reading about your food adventures (especially the super hot soup noodle one, I didn't know it was that dangerously hot XD.)Ohhh I'm penning this down, Uma Kara Honpo, that is good because I can't cook (I can bake, but not cook lol) so that is very useful. Haha oh wow, I heard about Sweets Paradise, I am so excited D: Need to do some training for my stomach before I attempt to go there, I always do badly in buffet styles :( Thanks for the recommendations!

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  4. Hilarious... I just got back from Osaka and I spent my last 450yen on 3 boxes of Kitkat too. Probably at the same store where you bought yours. lol!

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    1. Haha, good on you! Hope you had a good trip and enjoyed your kit kats! =P

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