It’s become a habit of mine to stock up on my favourite Japanese snacks at the duty-free shop before my flight home. Of course, this pre-flight list includes the iconic Tokyo Banana.
Originally sold exclusively in Tokyo (before a pandemic-induced sales slump forced its expansion to Osaka), this Japanese-style twinkie has become synonymous with Japan, prompting many a traveler to pick them up for their own consumption, or as omiyage for their co-workers back home.
Here is my (non-definitive) list of Tokyo Banana treats that are worth your luggage space!
1. Tokyo Banana Original Flavour
It goes without saying that nothing beats the original. The Tokyo Banana Original Flavour (¥1,782 for 12 pieces) is what started it all. Boasting a light, fluffy sponge cake with banana custard cream filling, this palm-sized treat is both comforting and addictive.
2. Tokyo Banana HONEY fLAVOUR (hANEDA aIRPORT eXCLUSIVE)
Here’s another reason to fly out from Haneda Airport – it is the one and only place where the Tokyo Banana Honey Flavour (¥1,782 for 12 pieces) is sold! Marked by a distinctly childlike wrapper and bear pattern, this is one flavour that flies off the shelves at the duty-free shop.
Personally, I wasn’t too big on it, as I found the honey notes were too distinct and clashed with the more mellow flavours of the banana custard. Still, you can’t deny that the bear pattern is pretty cute!
3. Pikachu Tokyo Banana
What do you get when you combine an insanely popular snack with the most popular electric rat to grace video games? You get Pikachu Tokyo Banana (¥1,782 for 12 pieces)! Made with the same banana custard, these themed goodies are too cute to be eaten, and are even printed with different patterns!
If you’re lucky enough, you might just score a box with the female Pikachu print, which is distinguished from the male Pikachu by way of a heart-shaped tail.
The Pikachu Tokyo Banana is likely only sold at Pokémon Centers. That said, I managed to score a box from a snack stand at Ikebukuro Station, so keep a lookout!
4. Pikachu and Eevee Chocolate Sand
Evee, the ultra-cuddly starter Pokémon with the ability to evolve into eight different elements, has etched its place as one of the series’ icons. Now, it also shares an (edible) stage with Pikachu in the form of the Pikachu and Eeve Chocolate Sand (¥1,188 for 12 pieces).
If you’re looking for an alternative to sponge cakes, this is the snack for you. There are two flavours in each box, banana yogurt for Pikachu, and caramel macchiato for Evee. I enjoyed the subtle bitterness in the caramel macchiato cream, while the banana yogurt sands, curiously enough, had a distinct, lemony aftertaste.
One thing I’m a sucker for when it comes to the Pokémon-themed goodies is the variety of expressions printed on each package and biscuit. Gotta love Japanese brands for their attention to detail.
5. Sugar Butter Sand Tree
A Tokyo Banana snack without…. banana?!
Sugar Butter Sand Tree (¥1,135 for 14 pieces) gets its distinct crunch from a special dough made from a variety of cereal grains finished with brown butter. Sandwiched between these two crispy cookies is a layer of white chocolate, making for a slightly rich treat. As to why it’s named a sand tree, that shall remain a mystery.
6. Tokyo Banana Kitkat
Last but not least is the Tokyo Banana Kitkat (¥1,242 for 12 pieces). Launched in 2017 as a limited-edition flavour, this is one of my favourite ones with the slight hint of banana elevating the richness of the chocolate bar. Compared to the other snacks on this list, it’s also fairly compact, which means… more room for more boxes of Kitkat!
There was even a commemorative Gold Caramel Tokyo Banana Kitkat created in 2020 in honour of the Tokyo Olympics Games.
Which Tokyo Banana snack is your favourite?