Level-Up Your Lunch Box! 10 Best Back-to-School Japanese Snacks

by Danny Taing

The weather is cooling down and classes are starting back up again, but who says the fun has to stop there? Add new life to your daily lunch routine with yummy Japanese snacks that are sure to boost your mood so you can tackle your classes for the rest of the day!

Onigiri Snacks
1. Onigiri Snacks

Onigiri are such signature items in Japanese lunch boxes, it’s only natural to start off the list with these! Onigiri are rice balls with tasty fillings such as pickled plum or salmon, often hand-made by parents for their children to eat at school. Though we say “rice ball,” onigiri are classically formed into a triangle shape, which has inspired snacks like onigiri rice crackers. Enjoy a quintessential bento staple in a new way with this unique snack!

2. Japanese Bread a.k.a. Pan

In Japanese TV dramas or anime centered around school life, there’s often a comical scene where characters rush to the cafeteria to grab their favorite type of bread or pan. Bakeries are popular in Japan and can be found no matter where you go, and they serve a wide selection of pan such as melon pan and curry pan to name a few. Even with all these choices, one thing is certain—light and airy Japanese bread is always a pleasant way to finish off a good lunch!

3. Mushroom Chips

Need to add some greens to your lunch, but looking for something more exciting? Mushroom chips made from umami-rich eringi (king oyster mushrooms) are a nice way to liven up your meal with a light and satisfying crunch.

Ramen-Flavored Potato Sticks
4. Ramen-Flavored Potato Sticks

If there’s one thing many college kids have in common, it’s the memory of many bowls of instant ramen for a quick meal. Did you know there are instant-ramen-flavored snacks in Japan? Get the taste of ramen without the 3-minute wait with chicken ramen-flavored potato sticks. Yes, these potato sticks really do smell and taste like ramen! Or, for those who prefer yakisoba the fried noodle favorite at summer festivals, check out these bite-sized yakisoba chips.

5. Rich Orange Biscuits

Everyone loves to indulge in a cookie or two especially after a long day of classes. Similar to an Orea, Rich Orange Biscuits are the perfect snack to satisfy your sweet tooth with and they come in convenient, individual packaging so you can throw one (or three) into your lunch bag.

6. Instant Hoshino Hojicha Latte

For those who prefer something lighter, or as a pick-me-up later in the day, Japanese hoshino hojicha latte sticks are a great treat! Simply tear open a stick, pour the powder into a hot cup of water, stir, and sip away. These convenient latte sticks are especially popular with students and office workers in Japan because they are easy to store.

7. Warabi Mochi

Who says the summer fun is over? Enjoy warabi mochi, a special mochi treat covered in delicious black sugar syrup and soybean flour. This type of mochi is made with bracken starch, and its consistency is lighter and more jelly-like compared to the round rice mochi most people are familiar with. It’s conveniently packaged to carry with you as you go, and is perfect to toss into your backpack for a special dessert without any hassle.

8. Candied Iyokan Citrus Peel

Sweeten up the end of your meal without the guilt with candied citrus fruit. The sweet but slightly bitter iyokan tastes like something between an orange and a grapefruit. It comes from Ehime, one of the leading citrus producers in Japan. The bitter peel of the candied iyokan pairs well with the sugar, making it an “a-peeling” treat for those who don’t like overly sweet snacks.

9. Taiyaki

Start the school year fresh with the fish-shaped sweet, taiyaki! Taiyaki are shaped like tai, Japanese red seabream, which are believed to bring good luck. This popular festival fare is made by pouring the batter in a special fish-shaped pan and filling it with red bean paste. Though you probably can’t bring the original with you to school, Japan also has a flavorful, modern cream-filled taiyaki in convenient packaging.

Sweet potato cookies
10. Sweet Potato Cookies

The end of summer and the beginning of autumn signal the start of sweet potato season. This means street vendors popping up to sell yakiimo (roasted sweet potatoes), and, of course, a slew of sweet potato cookie sandwiches and flavored chocolates hitting the shelves!

Lunch doesn’t have to be boring, but something to look forward to when you’re at school! Mix up your meals with a Japanese snack box full of the tastiest goodies straight from Japan.

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