Posted by TOKYO MATCHA SELECTION - Chris Young (living in UK) on 14th Jan 2018
Can a chocolate bar make it 'big in Japan'? Absolutely! In fact, the story of the KitKat might just be one of the most successful Japanese reinvention stories of all time. This week, we present the story of KitKat in Japan as well as three fantastic new arrivals available from TOKYO MATCHA SELECTION.
The Perfect Snack for Work and… Wordplay?
A British snack dating back to the 1930s, the original KitKat chocolate wafer bar has barely altered in form since its creation. The familiar slogan 'Have a break, have a KitKat', which has been in use since 1958, reflects the simple pleasure of breaking apart those chocolatey fingers and forgetting about office life - if just for a minute.
While it's often observed that the Japanese could do with a break from work, it was a different phrase which eventually caused the KitKat's popularity in Japan to skyrocket. In the 2000s, a highly successful advertising campaign played up the bar's potential as a good luck charm for exams. How? By exploiting an accidental pun in Japanese.
As many Japanese chocoholics have noticed, the brand name KitKat - pronounced キットカット(kittokatto) in Japanese - sounds quite similar to the phrase, きっと勝つ (kitto katsu). Fortuitously, this translates as, 'You'll surely win'! Such earnest words of encouragement seem designed to lift the spirits - and it works, because Japanese food culture is full of similar wordplay. For example, fried cutlets or 'katsu' are also enjoyed during exam season for their homophony with the verb 'to win', while kombu seaweed is eaten at New Year because it sounds like 喜ぶ (yorokobu), meaning 'to become happy'.
Besides wordplay, the KitKat has become associated with another Japanese obsession: 'omiyage'. This custom of bringing back gifts for your friends and colleagues whenever you travel is considered fun by some and a little burdensome by others. Nobody can deny, however, that it has sustained a wildly diverse domestic souvenir market. Like other snacks, KitKat has jumped on the omiyage bandwagon by producing hundreds of limited edition flavours that are only available in Japan. In doing so, this generations-old product has become arguably one of most shareable and collectable snack bars in existence. Thanks to its miniature size and endless variety, the Japanese KitKat stands out as a fun and convenient way to share seasonal and regional flavours from all over the country.
New KitKat Arrivals for 2018
At TOKYO MATCHA SELECTION we get very excited about new teatime treats. Here are three of the latest Japanese KitKat variations for 2018 that we're sure you'll enjoy.
The iyokan is a Japanese citrus fruit, similar to a mandarin. An iconic product of Ehime prefecture, on Shikoku island, the iyokan has a strong scent comparable to that of a grapefruit or bitter orange. Fun fact: because the words 'pentagonal iyokan' 五角伊予柑 (gokaku iyokan) sound like 'good feeling about passing an exam' 合格いい予感 (gougaku ii yokan), farmers in Ehime have recently developed five-sided iyokan to bring good fortune to school exam-takers. While the combination of crispy KitKat wafer and tangy iyokan might not double your luck, it will 'surely win' the affections of any citrus-lover.
Amazake is a Japanese hot drink made with fermented rice. Literally meaning 'sweet sake', it is prepared using the same special mould (koji) that is responsible for sake and miso, although it is not typically alcoholic. Amazake owes its deliciousness to the natural sugars that are released when rice starch is broken down by koji enzymes. Thick, sweet and creamy amazake is traditionally enjoyed during cold weather and particularly around New Year. Because it's very nutritious, it's also considered excellent for hangovers! If you live outside Japan, you'll no doubt find the Amazake KitKat an unusual winter treat.
Tokyo Banana x KitKat
This choco-banana wafer is the result of a collaboration between KitKat and Tokyo Banana, one of Japan's most iconic souvenir confections. At first glance, this new bar looks almost just like a classic chocolate-coated KitKat. However, closer inspection reveals two unique touches. Not only are the two fingers joined at one end to imitate two bananas, but they each contain layers of delicious banana cream, just like the original Tokyo Banana sponge cake!
What's the deal with matcha vs green tea? Exactly what is matcha anyway? This week, we at Tokyo Matcha Selection aim to answer your top questions about our favourite beverage. Let's start with the basics. Green tea is made from the leaves of the evergreen shrub Camellia sinensis. Although 'sinensis' means 'from China', the plant has been [...]
If you do not own a matcha whisk, or even if you do, you may be wondering exactly why such an implement is necessary to achieve a fine cup of matcha. In this post, we'll be explaining why the traditional bamboo whisk is so important and how to use and care for it properly. WHY DO [...]
In our last blog post, we explained what kitchen grade matcha is and why it's worth choosing for culinary purposes over other grades of matcha. Today, we bring you our very own tried and tested recipe for matcha and white chocolate muffins! With their surprising colour and subtle green tea aroma, these muffins are a perfect [...]
Kitchen grade matcha is the best choice for adding a green tea flavour to baked goods and other treats. Whether it's matcha smoothies, matcha cakes or homemade matcha ice cream that you crave, TOKYO MATCHA SELECTION highly recommends using 'kitchen grade' rather than 'daily drink grade' or 'ceremonial grade' matcha in your recipes. Read on [...]
Holiday season sale 2017 ! SAVE 20% ! Almost all the items From Nov 1st - From November 1st to December 25th, we will hold a holiday season sale! - You can save 20% and purchase the items you are interested in. Please don't miss this opportunity! ** [Details of this campaign] ** ------------------------------ Duration: Nov 1 - Dec 25 (Japan time) Contents: SAVE [...]
Here in Japan, there has always been a tacit acceptance that drinking green tea is good for one's health and wellbeing, but nothing like the interest it has been receiving in Western alternative health culture, where green tea and extracts from it are increasingly sold as health products. The boom in green tea sales outside Japan [...]
I went and visited the Ota Shigeki tea factory, located in Ureshino city, Saga on this Thursday, June 29. TMS would like to introduce them as 'OTA TEA'. More Info: about Ota Shigeki Family Tea Farm This is Mr.Yusuke Ota, CEO of OTA TEA. He is very calm and such a gentleman. The tea garden of Mr.Ota Mr. Ota [...]
* Kyusu tea pot & 2 Yunomi tea cups set My mother, Dolly, was raised in an area of Staffordshire commonly known as the Potteries, famed, as you may know, for its fine earthenware. From the 17th century on, names like Wedgwood, Royal Doulton, Minton, Spode and Dudson had become synonymous with English ceramics, particularly bone [...]
Most often, the Japanese tea ceremony is performed in a purpose built space known as chashitsu (茶室) - popularly known in English as tea rooms. In keeping with traditional Japanese architecture, the main building material is wood, with shōji (障子) - paper screens - used to divide the space, and tatami (畳) flooring throughout. Tatami [...]