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Posted by Swan Domergue on Mar 16, 2021
If you already went to Japan, you probably noticed that the snack industry is really special in the Land of the Rising Sun. It is impressive to see the different candies, chocolates, and other original snacks available in all the supermarkets but also in the dedicated candy stores such as Morinaga that is the world's heaven for snacks and candies lovers!
If you read our first article about Konbinisan, you already know that the website was created for this reason, we want to share this part of the Japanese culture which is unique.
In addition to the countless varieties of snacks and sweets available in Japan, it is also really surprising to see the quantity of range. Indeed some sweets (usually called Wagashi) and omiyage can be very expensive while some others are ridiculously cheap! This type of snack is called Dagashi and it is about it that our today's article will deal with.
Dagashi simply refers to cheap and good value sweets and snacks, mostly marketed to children the term literally means "Futile Snack for Kids". Packed into a fun packaging designed to attract young people, there is a multitude of types of Dagashi in Japan that include candies, chocolates, candies, chips, and sometimes even some drinks can be sold as Dagashi.
The history of Dagashi date back to the Edo period (1603-1867), at the time Japan was under the rule of the Tokugawa shogunate, and this era was characterized by isolationist foreign policies. Therefore, nobody from overseas was allowed to enter the archipelago, most of the Japanese were allowed to leave the country neither and the foreign trade relations were almost non-existent.
Even though the Edo Period is also characterized by economic growth due to the unification of the different provinces, the development of new towns, roads, and productive agriculture, the lack of communication with the foreign world resulted in the delay of new technology, especially in agriculture.
Therefore, sugar was a limited and expansive resource only accessible to the highest class of people. To allow everyone to consume sweet food, most of the snacks and sweets were made of a large variety of grains along with mizuame (a thick malt syrup).
At that time, these types of snacks did not have a proper name, and it is only after World War II that a specific name for this new cultural aspect of Japan was given.
Dagashiya are shops that only sell Dagashi snacks. When Dagashi started to become popular after World War II, many of these shops popped-up around the main cities of Japan. They were offering an amazingly huge range of different Dagashi at super low prices, as well as cheap toys and entertainments for kids such as lottery of toys and snacks but also arcade game! Indeed, it is between the 70s and the 90s that the arcade game market boomed in Japan, and for the Dagashiya did not hesitate to place some old arcade machines in their store that were cheaper than the ones found in the regular game centers, a good way to attract more children in their stores. This strategy was successful, and the Dagashiya were back in time full of kids and parents every single day.
Time has changed and since the 2000s the technologies likewise the mentality of the people is changing very fast especially in Japan, a country renowned for high technologies and a constant will for innovation. Nowadays most people like to play video games at home and the Dagashi are sold in the convenience stores that you can find in every single street of Japan. Unfortunately, the popularity of Dagashiya has drastically decreased and it is now rare to see, but this does not mean that they are not popular anymore, they are just sold in other types of stores.
However the Japanese peoples remain attached to the culture and we can still find some Dagashi bar in the big cities, they are usually izakayas, a type of authentic Japanese bar that serves food and alcohol and are strictly prohibited for children, then those pubs are usually visited by adults that want to remind their childhood memories.
Our team recommends the Izakaya chain Hakuri Tabai Hanbey (薄利多売半兵ヱ), a restaurant that offers very good authentic and cheap food, with an original decoration that will remind you of the old japan that you are used to seeing in your favorite anime!
Now that you know everything about the culture and the history of Dagashi, let us introduce our top 10 Dagashi! Please note that the following raking is a non-exhaustive list of Dagashi selected by the Konbinisan team. The amount of Dagashi available on the market is so big that we do not even know all of them and your taste may vary, feel free to try as much as possible!
How can we write an article about Dagashi without mentioning the famous Umaibo! This Dagashi consists of a corn puffed thick stick which the packaging features the popular mascot of Umaemon, a cute cat inspired by the anime for kids Doraemon. Literally meaning "Delicious Stick" what makes Umaibo so popular is the countless existing flavors. Sweet or savory, the many crazy flavors such as Natto, Shrimp and Mayo, Salami...will give your taste buds a unique experience!
Among all the delicious dishes that the Japanese cuisine offers, Katsu is one of the most appreciated ones. It refers to different kinds of fried meat cutlets a such as pork, beef, and chicken. Big Katsu is the name of a famous Dagashi, that looks like a mini version of the Japanese dish. Of course, the snack does not contain any meat but shredded fish and shrimp surimi, which give a taste similar to the Filet O Fish from McDonald's. On the market since 1987, Big Katsu is available in all the Japanese convenience and candy stores at a ridiculous price!
If you read our article about Anko, you have already been introduced to Dorayaki, a yummy snack made of red bean sweet paste sandwiched between two Japanese-style pancakes. The Yaokin Dorayaki is a mini version of Dorayaki, made of two small and cute maple syrup pancake sandwiches in an unctuous maple or chocolate cream!
Originally, Ramune is a Japanese carbonated drink that is packed into a bottle called Codd Neck Bottles. Existing in many flavors, this drink was originally a medicine to prevent cholera but became quickly a regular drink consumed by children and adults all around Japan thanks to its sweet taste. Popular since its creation in 1884, the actors of the Japanese candy industry did not hesitate to take advantage of the success of Ramune to create a bunch of candies with Ramune flavor. The best-selling version of Ramune candies is the one sold by the distributor Morinaga, which has adapted the famous design of the original Ramune bottle to the candy packaging.
If your read our article about Anko, you have already been introduced to Taiyaki, you know, this fish-shaped snack containing a sweet red bean paste! Puku Puku Tai Wafer is the "candy version" of a Taiyaki. It consists of an airy mousse-filled wafer shaped in a fish shape. The mousse itself can have different classic and original tastes such as chocolate strawberry and melon. Enjoy this light and low-calorie snack in all the Japanese candy stores!
The description is in the name! Osushiyasan is a package featuring an eccentric sushi chef pouring his heart and soul into making sushis! Of course, you will not get real sushis in this pack but seven gummies that are all differently shaped in the most popular sushis. These chewy candies are fun and rich in three flavors: Peach, lemon, and banana.
One of the most popular and beloved children's characters Anpanman is here for the rescue! Existing everywhere in Japan including in candy stores, these gummies shaped as Anpanman and his friends are among the best sellers in the archipelago. Each package contains six candies and exists in different flavors of tasty and juicy fruits such as apple and grape.
Are you ready for a real explosion of flavor experience? Place these little candy flakes on your tongue and you will feel them popping and crackling instantly in your mouth! Existing in several flavors, this Dagashi will give you a funny sensation that a Hanabi (firework) of flavors is happening right into your buccal cavity!
Likewise Big Katsu, Kabayaki Santaro is a miniature form of a Japanese dish called Kabayaki that is a preparation of eel fish consisting of splitting the back, butterflying gutting and deboning the fish, and then cutting the fillets into pieces to be threaded onto skewers. Kanbayaki is the dried fish paste Dagashi, having the salty and sweet flavor of a traditional Kabayaki dish.
Senbei is is a type of Japanese rice crackers that comes in various shapes and tastes. Traditional, the types of Senbei differ according to the region of Japan and are often used are Omiyage to offer.
Don Don Yaki Senbei are some mini bites of Senbei flavored with Tonkatsu sauce ( a creamy sauce made of pig bones). Named after the sound of Taiko (drum in English), the package features some characters drumming at a Matsuri (the Japanese traditional festival).
In Konbinisan we are big fans of Dagashi, this is one of the reasons why we decided to launch the website. Dagashi is a part of the Japanese culture and we want to make you discover those cheap yummy and unique snacks.
All the Dagashi mentioned in our top ten are obviously available in our catalog at really low prices and you also have the possibilité to try our Dagashi box, which offers 30 pieces of Dagashi displayed and not displayed on our website!
Order your box now and enjoy these good values snacks with FREE SHIPPING.
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