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A Mini Guide To Japan’s Seasonal Drink And Snack Ingredients

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 I’m sharing my love of limited edition snacks and drinks with A Mini Guide To Japan’s Seasonal Drink And Snack Ingredients.
I’m a fan of limited edition seasonal stuff. You can always find the latest snacks that have 新発売 (new release/shin hatsubai) or 期間限定  (for a limited time only/kikan gentei) plastered on it in my shopping basket.
If my life were a hashtag, it would probably be, “I’m addicted to limited edition things” (#期間限定に弱い/kikan gentei ni yowaii)

READ: Foodie Adventures

This is by no means an exhaustive list. Sometimes snack and drink makers throw a curveball and release products that are completely unrelated to the season.

Spring


Right around Valentine’s Day, Starbucks releases its sakura collection. From then, lighter flavors replace the rich, intense taste of chocolate, especially after White Day (March 14, when men return chocolates to women).

Read: BEYOND ‘I LOVE YOU’: 5 TIPS FOR NAVIGATING ROMANCE IN JAPAN

Spring is also prime time for strawberry picking. Tochigi Prefecture is Japan’s largest producer of strawberries while Fukuoka is famous for its wonderfully sweet “amaou” variety.

READ: Strawberry Picking at Iwafune Fruit Park and Ashikaga Flower Park Flower Fantasy

Fun fact: Why do spring flavors like sakura (cherry blossom) come out in early February? Because February 4 is risshun (立春), the start of spring. The day before, February 3 is setsubun (節分) which literally translates as “divide the seasons” AKA the day between winter and spring. #themoreyouknow

Flavors to try:

Japanese plum (梅/Ume)
Cherry Blossoms (桜/Sakura)
Peach (桃/momo)
Chocolate (チョコ/choko)
Strawberry (苺/ ichigo)

Summer


Summer in Japan means beach fun, fireworks, and festivals (祭り/matsuri). Lots of fun, right? But, summer in Japan, especially its urban areas, is notoriously hot and humid. Nearly every day on the news there’s a segment dedicated to the number of heatstroke victims across Japan.
Along with sugary sweet tropical fruit flavors, you’ll find plenty of soft drinks and throat lozenges enhanced with electrolytes in an attempt to help combat heat stroke.
Gardening in the early morning or evening and not having high schoolers play baseball when it’s 35 degrees out might help… but what do I know?

Flavors to try:

Watermelon (スイカ/suika)
Lemon (レモン/remon)
Salt (塩/shio)
Tropical (トロピカル/toropikaru —mango, dragonfruit, pineapple etc from Japan’s sunny southern regions of Kyushu and Okinawa)
Chocolate Mint (チョコミント/choko minto)

Fall


Autumn is perhaps the best time to experience Japan, its culture, and cuisine. Summer vacation is over, meaning less crowds and more seats on buses, planes, and trains. Plus the weather is pleasant and mild, you’ll want to go out everyday.

Read: 10 PLACES TO EXPERIENCE THE BEST OF AUTUMN IN JAPAN

I really recommend staying at a traditional Japanese inn (旅館/ryokan) with a hot spring (温泉/onsen) so that you can experience the wonderful world of kaiseki ryori (会席料理).
Kaiseki ryori is a course meal that that can best be described as edible art. Of course, you need to hit the convenience store before you go for snacks to eat on the train trip there!

Read: FALL FOODS IN JAPAN: WHERE TO FIND THEM AND HOW TO COOK THEM

Flavors to try:

Grapes (ぶどう/budou)
Japanese sweet potato (さつまいも/satsumaimo)
Chestnut (栗/kuri)
Mushrooms (きのこ/kinoko)
Pumpkin (かぼちゃ/kabocha)
Houjicha (ほうじ茶)
Persimmon (柿/kaki)

READ: 10 Reasons Why Autumn is the Best Time to Experience Japan

Winter


For some reason, winter sweets seem to be heavy on flavor – and loaded with calories! With Christmas, New Year’s and Valentine’s Day coming one right after another, winter is an endless parade of chocolates, Christmas cake and even more chocolates. Plus, you can’t forget all the wonderful hot drink concoctions that warm you up even on the coldest of days.

Flavors to try:

Mikan (みかん/mikan)
Apple (りんご/ringo)
Strawberry (いちご/ichigo)
Christmas cake (クリスマスケーキ/kurisumasu ke—ki)
Chocolate (チョコ/choko)
Berries (ベリー/beri-)
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Need even more seasonal snacks and drinks from Japan? Head to 99japan.com!

A Mini Guide To Japan’s Seasonal Drink And Snack Ingredients

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