If you want to know where to buy the best Japanese chocolate, you’ve come to the right place.
Of course, chocolate isn’t Japanese in origin. It started in Mexico and Central America, and Spanish conquistadors brought it to Europe. But once chocolate arrived in Japan, they learned to like it as much as Europeans or Americans. For decades, Japanese companies have come up with a lot of unique, fun, and tasty ways to enjoy chocolate.
(Note: I found conflicting online reports about the history of chocolate in Japan. We’ll just say that Japanese companies have made chocolate products for more than a century and leave it at that.)
We’ve put together a list of the best Japanese chocolate. You can find all of these chocolate items at our sponsor, ZenPlus, Amazon Japan, and elsewhere too!
List of the 10 Best Japanese Chocolate
If you’re looking for great Japanese chocolate, you have to start with Royce’. Since the 1990s, Nama (meaning “raw” or “fresh” in Japanese) chocolate has been Royce’s flagship variety — a type of ganache invented in Japan. It’s made with cream and cacao, and dusted with cocoa powder.
Chocolate historians may notice a strong similarity between Nama chocolate and an older variety known as Pavé de Geneva. Whatever the case, Royce’s version is quite good.
Royce’ makes many varieties of Nama chocolate, from mild milk to bitter dark. This box contains 20 pieces of Royce’ Nama Mild Milk Chocolate.
Lotte has made these little chocolate-filled Koala’s March biscuits since 1984. It gets the name from the cute little koalas printed on the front of the biscuit. Cleverly, each koala is shown doing something different.
If you’re thinking “aren’t they supposed to be pandas,” you’re probably thinking of Hello Panda by Meiji (since 1979). The two are very similar.
In a way, Koala’s March is also vaguely similar to Pocky (Ezaki Glico). Both are easy to snack on, and hard to put down once you’ve opened a box. And while the chocolate isn’t the best you’ve ever had, it is chocolatey enough to satisfy.
Royce’ came up with another winner with its coconut Baton Cookies. Take a tasty, crispy coconut cookie, and add Royce’s high-quality chocolate on one side, and the result is a great flavor combination.
Royce’ Baton Cookies come in several flavors. If you search for “royce baton” at ZenPlus, you will find hazelnut, matcha, fromage (cheese), and other varieties. This box contains 25 coconut cookies. Because they’re individually-wrapped, they shouldn’t get stale quickly.
These milk chocolate Bourbon Alfort biscuits are similar to the French chocolate cookies known as petit écolier, or little schoolboy cookies.
It’s not quite the same. For one thing, the proportions are different. The Lefèvre Utile (LU) version has more biscuit, and less chocolate. In Bourbon’s version, the chocolate hangs over the edge of the cookie. But it’s certainly similar enough.
I generally associate Niigata-based Bourbon with Japanese reproductions of classic European cookies, from British-style chocolate-covered digestive biscuits to Danish-style butter cookies. But imitation or not, the quality really is quite good. This package of Alfort biscuits contains both milk chocolate and rich milk chocolate varieties.
If you like variety, or maybe you are indecisive, this blue gourmet candy box might be right for you. The Royce’ Collection features an assortment of Royce’ chocolate treats. In addition to the Blue box collection, Royce’ produces other similar boxes as well.
You get 78 pieces, including Pure Chocolate Sweet, Pure Chocolate Milk, Pure Chocolate Creamy Milk, Pure Chocolate White, Petit Kurumaro Chocolat, Bar Chocolate Nut, Potechi Crunch Chocolate, Hazel Cream Chocolate Wafers, Coconut Baton Cookies, and Hazel Cacao Baton Cookies.
Yes, I mention Royce’ several times in this list, but the chocolate really is quite good.
Chocolate and strawberry are two great flavors which go great together. In addition, the people of Japan also grow and eat a lot of strawberries. It’s no wonder that Japanese candy companies often combine the two flavors.
For example, take these milk chocolate-covered freeze-dried strawberries. Donan Foods (also spelled Dounan) makes them. The Hokkaido-based confectionery company went independent from Meiji in 1980. Donan specializes in food from Hokkaido, such as the strawberries at the center of this tasty snack.
Next we have a sampler pack of Royce’s crunchy and unique Bar Chocolate bars. If you buy this, you will receive three different chocolate bar flavors.
The Nutty Bar contains macadamia nuts, pecans, cashews, almonds, and crispy puffs. The Matcha Bars are made of white chocolate with green tea flavor and nuts. And last but not least, the Fruit Bar contains dried fruit and nuts. Like a lot of Japanese products, the bars are individually-wrapped.
Royce’ was founded in Hokkaido in 1983, making it newer than some Japanese candy companies. But it has quickly established itself as a gourmet brand.
You can’t make a list of good chocolate without a good old-fashioned milk chocolate bar. This 50 gram (1.7 ounce) bar comes from Meiji Seika Kaisha, the snack food and pharmaceuticals branch of Meiji Holdings.
Founded in 1916, Meiji is one of Japan’s original chocolate companies. (Technically it ought to be Taisho chocolate, not Meiji, but nevermind.) According to Meiji’s website, the company made its first Meiji Milk Chocolate bar in 1923. Meiji Milk Chocolate is sort of the Hershey’s Chocolate of Japan — cheap, classic, common, and decent quality.
Unlike the chocolate-covered strawberries that I mentioned earlier, Meiji Strawberry Chocolate is quite simply a strawberry-flavored chocolate bar.
The strawberry flavor comes from a layer of strawberry cream in the middle of the bar. The bar is divided up into 10 sections, so you can share it, or make it last.
The American chocolate giant’s Japanese division makes these Hershey’s Choco Rolls for the Japanese market. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything quite like them in the United States.
Hershey’s Choco Rolls are biscuit tubes filled with hazelnut cream (sort of like Nutella) and covered with chocolate. Hazelnut is a very European flavor, but they like it in Japan as well. This box contains 12 sticks — six bags of two pieces each.
Hershey started a partnership with Fujiya (makers of Milky candy) in 2018.