Japanese chocolate: The popular and unique taste of chocolate in Japan

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Do you know what the most popular type of chocolate is in Japan? It’s not milk chocolate, as you might think.

It’s actually a type of dark chocolate with a distinct taste profile and occasionally a slight hint of umami.

Japanese chocolate, or chokorēto, is a must-try for anyone who loves dark chocolate. The unique bitterness and blend of flavors of Japanese chocolate bars will leave you wanting more!

Japanese chocolate: The popular and unique taste of chocolate in Japan

But of course, for the milk chocolate, white chocolate, bonbon, and candy bar lovers, there is enough on offer as well.

The Japanese chocolate world is truly a paradise for the chocolate lover in general; you will see!

In this blog post, we will discuss Japanese chocolate’s history, flavor profile, and most famous brands.

We’ll also give you some tips on where to find the best Japanese chocolates in your area.

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Chocolate in Japan

When you think of Japanese cuisine, chocolate is probably not the first thing to come to mind.

However, chocolate is actually quite popular in Japan. In fact, the country is home to some of the best chocolate makers in the world.

The most popular type of chocolate in Japan is dark chocolate.

Japanese chocolatiers often add unique flavorings to their dark chocolate, such as matcha, wasabi, or green tea.

This gives the chocolate a distinct taste you won’t find anywhere else in the world.

If you’re looking for a truly unique and delicious chocolate experience, then Japanese dark chocolate is a must-try!

Japanese chocolate flavor profile

So what does Japanese dark chocolate taste like?

Well, it depends on the specific brand and flavorings that are used. However, in general, Japanese dark chocolate has a rich, intense flavor.

The chocolate is also usually quite smooth and not too sweet.

If you’re used to eating milk chocolate, then Japanese dark chocolate may be a bit of an acquired taste.

But trust us, it’s worth acquiring!

The added flavorings can range from sweet to savory and everything in between.

Some of the most popular flavors include matcha, wasabi, green tea, and ginger.

The chocolate is also often slightly bitter and has a slight umami taste. This umami flavor comes from the added matcha or green tea powder.

If you’re not used to this flavor profile, it can take some getting used to. However, once you get a taste for it, you’ll be hooked!

Why does Japanese chocolate taste different?

The main reason Japanese chocolate tastes so different from other types of chocolate is the added flavorings.

As we mentioned before, common flavorings include matcha, wasabi, green tea, and ginger.

These flavors are all quite unique and give the chocolate a distinct taste.

Another reason Japanese chocolate tastes different is the cocoa beans that are used.

Japanese chocolatiers often use a blend of different cocoa beans to create their signature flavor profile.

This results in a chocolate that is both rich and intense.

Finally, the manufacturing process also plays a role in the taste of Japanese chocolate.

Japanese chocolatiers take great care to roast and grind their cocoa beans to perfection. This results in a chocolate that is smooth and melts in your mouth.

History of chocolate in Japan

Chocolate was first introduced to Japan in the Meiji period (1868-1912). At that time, chocolate was a luxury item only available to the wealthy.

It wasn’t until after World War II that chocolate became more widely available to the general public.

During the economic boom of the 1980s, chocolate consumption in Japan increased significantly.

Today, chocolate is one of the most popular snacks in Japan.

It’s not uncommon to see people eating chocolate on the train or at their desks at work.

Nearly every convenience store in the country sells individual bars of chocolate.

There are also many different types of Japanese chocolate, from high-end chocolates to more affordable brands.

Growing cacao in Japan

You might know that chocolate is made from cacao beans, the seeds of the cacao tree.

Cacao trees are native to Central and South America, but they can also be found in Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands.

Did you know that cacao trees can also be grown in Japan?

In Japan, cacao trees are grown in the subtropical regions of Okinawa and Kyushu.

The climate in these regions is perfect for growing cacao trees. The warm, humid weather helps the trees to produce large quantities of beans.

As a result, there is a growing movement of Japanese craft chocolate makers who use locally-grown cacao beans to make their chocolate.

Japanese craft chocolate

Japanese craft chocolate is a new and exciting industry.

There are only a handful of Japanese craft chocolate makers at the moment, but their numbers are growing every year.

These chocolatiers are passionate about making high-quality chocolate from scratch.

They use only the finest ingredients, including single-origin cacao beans and organic sugar.

Their chocolates are often made in small batches and can be quite expensive. However, they are well worth the price!

If you’re looking for the best Japanese chocolate, then you should definitely seek out these craft chocolatiers.

Famous Japanese chocolate brands

The top three chocolate brands in Japan are Meiji, Morinaga, and Lotte.

These brands have been around for many years, and their chocolates are beloved by Japanese people of all ages.

Meiji chocolate is perhaps the most popular brand of chocolate in Japan. Meiji was founded in 1916 and has been making delicious chocolate ever since.

Meiji milk chocolate bar

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One of Meiji’s most popular products is its simple chocolate bar, either dark chocolate or milk chocolate.

Or, if you like it more sweet, try the cute Meiji Apollo strawberry chocolate cones that are supposedly shaped like mount Fuji.

Others feel that Meiji mushroom mountain, tiny mushroom-shaped biscuits with a chocolate cover called kinoko ni yama, is their favorite snack among the many chocolate biscuit products that Meiji offers.

Morinaga is another well-known Japanese chocolate brand and is currently one of Japan’s biggest candy manufacturers.

Morinaga was founded in 1899 and is known for its high-quality milk chocolate.

One of Morinaga’s most popular products is DARS, chocolate bars with either a creamy milk chocolate center that is covered in a thin layer of dark chocolate or simply solid dark (slightly bitter) chocolate.

A more boutique Japanese chocolate brand is Royce.

Royce was founded in Hokkaido in 1983 and specializes in chocolate-covered nuts like macadamia nuts and almonds as well as creamy chocolate squares.

The company is best known for its “nama chocolate”, which is made with fresh cream and has a very smooth texture.

If you’re looking for a truly unique Japanese chocolate experience, then you should definitely try Royce!

Finally, Lotte is a Korean company that has been making chocolate in Japan since 1948.

Lotte is best known for its almond chocolates, which are bite-sized balls of chocolate with a crunchy biscuit and almond center.

Or what about its choco pie, chocolate-covered biscuit sandwiches with a soft center.

Lotte choco pies come in a variety of flavors, including original, banana, and green tea.

No matter what your preference, you are sure to find a Japanese chocolate that you will love!

Also read: Can onigiri be sweet? There’s nothing to stop you!

Japanese candy bars with chocolate

Just like in most countries, chocolate in Japan does not only come in the form of chocolate bars.

Also candy bars and confectionery with chocolate are hugely popular in Japan.

There are all sorts of different candy bars available, from those with a simple milk chocolate coating to those with multiple layers of different flavored creams.

There are even candy bars that come with a crunchy biscuit or wafer center.

You will also find chocolate-covered nuts and fruits, decadent truffles and bonbons, as well as chocolate-filled biscuits, cookies, and cookie sticks.

And can you imagine chocolate-covered corn flakes for breakfast?

If you like white chocolate, Shiroi Koibito from Ishiya is a must-try Japanese snack.

They are crispy white chocolate sandwich langue de chat cookies.

Shiroi Koibito means “white lover,” and the white color is a reference to Hokkaido’s snowy scenery in winter.

You can say that in Japan, there is a chocolate candy bar for everyone, perfect for those who like to experiment with their food and try new things and flavors.

Some chocolates from Japan come in exclusive limited-edition flavors and can only be found in specific regions.

These limited editions often have surprising flavors and are aligned with the seasons.

From June to July you will see a lot of cherry-flavored sweets for example.

And in winter, when it is cold outside, a lot of people like to eat chocolate that has a mint or orange flavor.

Enjoying foods you can only have during a specific time of year is one of the fun things about sweets in Japan!

An excellent place to start is this top 10 most popular Japanese candy bars that you can find at the convenience store:

Japanese KitKat

One of the most popular candy bars in Japan is KitKat.

KitKat was first introduced to Japan in 1973 and has since become one of the country’s most beloved snacks.

This is all the more surprising because the Japanese market is famed for its difficulty to crack by foreign brands.

KitKat might thank its success in no small part to its name, KitKat, which sounds a bit like “Kitto Katsu” which means “definitely win” in Japanese.

Also, as you may know, Japan has a strong gift-giving culture. Presenting a KitKat to friends or family has taken on the meaning of good luck and dedication.

Did you know there are over 200 different flavors of KitKat available in Japan!?

Some of the most popular flavors include matcha, yuzu, strawberry cheesecake, and wasabi.

Or what do you think of purple sweet potato KitKat? And KitKats with Nihonshu (Japanese rice wine) flavor?

Having a break, having a KitKat in Japan is definitely an experience!

Where to find Japanese chocolate

Now that you know all about Japanese chocolate, you’re probably wondering where you can get your hands on some!

If you live in Japan, you’ll have no problem finding Japanese chocolate at any convenience store or supermarket.

In fact, anyone who has ever been to a Japanese convenience store and checked out the sweets section will not be able to forget it.

There are so many chocolates to choose from!

Unfortunately, Japanese chocolate is not widely available outside of the country.

However, there are a few online retailers that sell Japanese chocolate products.

Cooking Japanese dishes with chocolate

While chocolate is most commonly eaten as a snack in Japan, it is also used in some traditional Japanese dishes.

For example, some Japanese people add chocolate to their miso soup. This may sound strange, but it actually tastes quite good!

Another popular dish that uses chocolate is chawanmushi, a type of egg custard. Chocolate is added to the custard before it is steamed.

Chocolate in Japanese curry is also not unheard of. The chocolate helps to balance out the spice of the curry and gives the dish a unique flavor.

And of course, many desserts are better with chocolate.

Why not try making these Chocolate Takoyaki Dessert Balls (full recipe) that will leave you wanting more.

If you’re feeling adventurous, why not try adding chocolate to your next Japanese meal?


Japanese chocolate is a delicious and unique treat that you’ll be sure to enjoy.

There are so many different and, often funky, flavors to choose from, and you’re sure to find a favorite.

Or, if nothing else, you will have a memorable experience!

While Japanese chocolate is not widely available outside of the country, it can be purchased online from a few different retailers.

And, if you’re feeling adventurous, you can even try cooking with chocolate the next time you make a Japanese dish!

Next, check out the 15 best types of Japanese snacks you need to try now!

Check out our new cookbook

Bitemybun's family recipes with complete meal planner and recipe guide.

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Joost Nusselder, the founder of Bite My Bun is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with Japanese food at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.