About a year into covid, our Arigato Travel founder Anne and I started a Facebook group because we discovered, almost by accident, that there are amazing tourism professionals that are international residents spread out all over Japan from Hokkaido to Okinawa. In just over a year the group “Japan Foreign Tourism Professionals” has grown to include over 200 people who we love sharing ideas and having online events with, all while learning from their passion for Japan. They are a great group that we are excited to introduce to our blog readers and past and future guests. You really need to know about these folks before your next (or first) trip to Japan.
Of course, since we are food people (you might say food-obsessed), we thought the best way for you to start to get to know them was through a round-up of their favorite Japanese Snacks!
So, (drumroll please) in no particular order, let’s enjoy PART 1 of our snack round-up with some of our favorite foreign tourism experts from around Japan and beyond!
Meet Louise George Kittaka (New Zealander). Louise is a freelance writer and content creator based in Tokyo who works on many different content projects including those for travel and tourism and media and government organizations. Find out more about her here: https://www.jarman-international.com/company/ji-core-50/louise-george-kittaka/
And on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/louisegeorge.kittaka
My Absolute favorite snacks are nori-flavored potato chips. My top pick among them is Koike-ya’s Norishio (湖池屋 のり塩). Snack trends come and go but this “classic” combo always delivers! Runner up is Lotte’s Rummy chocolate—a touch of luxury and decadence at conbini prices.
Next up, we have Alyse, AKA The Invisible Tourist–she’s invisible so you only get the logo on this one :-)!
Alyse is a travel content creator & author based in Australia. https://www.theinvisibletourist.com, on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/theinvisibletourist, and her Instagram home is over here at https://www.instagram.com/theinvisibletourist/.
While I have numerous favourite Japanese snacks, taiyaki are top of the list. I can’t help but be drawn to the sweet aromas of street vendors cooking these traditional treats. Their hot, pancake-like exterior filled with red bean paste, vanilla or chocolate custards is divine. When I’m not in Japan, I love to get my hands on the chocolate-filled wafer taiyaki that come in a range of flavours. It also helps that tai symbolise good luck in Japanese culture!
Alexander Stankov is a tourism consultant: He advises tourism associations, DMOs, and local suppliers all over Japan about how to develop attractive and sustainable activities and add value to tours. Check out his site here: www.localcolors.jp.
Let’s get to know Andres Zuleta. Andres is the founder of Boutique Japan, a specialist in unique bespoke trips throughout Japan. Give his website a look at https://boutiquejapan.com/ and find him on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/boutiquejapan/.
I have so many favorites, but if I had to choose one “last meal” Japanese snack it would be the katsu sand (sandwich) from Maisen that I usually get to complement an ekiben (train lunch box) for long shinkansen (bullet train) rides. Even though Maisen is not necessarily my favorite tonkatsu restaurant, their katsu sando is a perfect snack and pairs beautifully with a beer or coffee on the train.
I definitely wanted to get in on the action for this post as the author and a huge fan of Japanese snacks. (lol) I am a co-owner and General Manager of our team here at Arigato Travel. We are a culinary tourism team that also does destination consulting, content creation, marketing support, and tons of other fun stuff with all kinds of partners here in Japan and around the globe. You know about our website because you are here… but if you have not followed us on Instagram yet, please do at instagram.com/arigatojapan/!
I am based in Tokyo and have been in Japan for around 25 years–time sure flies when you are having fun trying so many delicious foods.
If I had to choose a favorite guilty-pleasure snack food here it would be BLACK THUNDER, which is basically a mini-size chocolate candy bar with cakey-crispy bits inside. Yes, that is the technical term for the crunchy part. The chocolate is not too milky (they have different types too) and the size is perfect for a quick, sweet pick-me-up. I love them. You can buy a single one at most convenience stores, but you can also pick up a bag of them at supermarkets or snack shops to keep around the house if you like to live dangerously.
Our tourism friends come from ALL over the world but they all LOVE Japan. Meet Michela Figliola, a Travel blogger and digital marketing specialist. Her home on the web is over at warmcheaptrips.com–and her social media is all under the same name. As a bonus, all of her content is in Italian as well as English!
I love Dango (especially mitarashi dango, but I love other flavors as well) because I love the mix of the consistency of the rice dumplings and the sweetness of the sweet soy sauce-based coating. Plus, you can often find dango at food stalls in mountain temples or during events and festivals, so they give me that sense of a “living Japanese atmosphere.”
Finally to wrap up this first part of our ongoing intros to great people in the tourism field and their favorite snacks, meet Julie Baud! Originally from France, Julie is a tourism consultant for sustainable tourism activity development, as well as a private guide for French speakers. Julie is launching new projects focused on introducing Artisans in Japan, which you can check out and book her as your guide for over here: https://www.rillinjapan.fr/, and on Instagram and Twitter she is https://www.instagram.com/rillinjapan/ and https://twitter.com/RillJapan respectively!
There you have it! 7 Japan pros from around the world who call this wonderful country their second home! Check them out and add their favorite snacks to your future travel foodie-bucket list. They would all be great folks to follow and connect with for their unique takes on Japanese culture, history, food, and fun.
Stay tuned for PART 2 coming soon with more snacks and more tourism pros to find and follow. If you love snacks, join our Shibuya Retro Tour for some nice snack surprises!
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