Lonely Planet Writer

Why Kit Kats are becoming one of Japan's most popular souvenirs

Nestle are always making headlines across the world with their wild and wacky Kit Kat flavours but with most of them only available in Japan, they’ve become one of the country’s most popular souvenirs.

A KitKat ‘Chocolatory’ boutique shop in Tokyo. Photo by BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP/Getty Images)

Japan is experiencing a record number of foreign visitors in recent years with 37% of their money going towards shopping in the country. Their curiosity accounts for some of the chocolate bar’s incredible sales and boost in popularity.

Since first trying it in 2000, more than 300 different limited edition varieties have gone on sale in Japan. The most recognisable is probably green tea flavour but there are plenty of more unusual concoctions to fill your suitcase with.

Many Kit Kat flavours are strictly limited edition. Photo by BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP/Getty Images

The rotation of flavours has expanded a lot since 2014 when the brand began to open their own dedicated stores selling gourmet and unusual flavours of the chocolate bar. The flavours here range from the delectable – orange-chocolate rum, cappuccino, lemon cheesecake – to the jarringly savoury – cheese, soy sauce, adzuki – with recipes designed by renowned pastry chef Yasumasa Takagi.

It’s not just foreign tourists who are keen to try the different flavours. In Japan, there is a long tradition of omiyage, which is the act of bringing back edible souvenirs to your friends and co-workers. Kit Kat’s regional varieties are often the perfect treat to bring back to your office.

The ultimate Kit Kat display in Tokyo. BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP/Getty Images

Last year, the company even turned an April Fool’s Day hoax into a real product with Kit Kat sushi being released in limited flavours of raspberry, pumpkin pudding and melon and mascarpone designed to look like your favourite Japanese delicacies.