Updated: April 12, 2019
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Halal or Haram? 10 Popular Japanese Snacks Examined

Tokyo

listed here are 10 popular Japanese snacks that you may be thinking about purchasing while you are in Japan. Disclaimer: I myself am not a Muslim, nor am I an expert on halal food. I wrote this article in an attempt to provide some useful information about some of the most popular Japanese snacks.

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1. Pocky: Haram

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Strawberry Pocky
I contacted Glico, the producer of Pocky to ask about the halal status of Pocky products. The company responded by saying that although there are no animal products of any kind used in the production of Pocky, one of the ingredients, 香料(flavoring), contains alcohol (This ingredient appears even in standard, chocolate Pocky).

It appears that Glico Indonesia has a halal certification, but the same is not true in Japan. if you were hoping to buy Pocky in Japan, unfortunately you will be out of luck.

2. Calbee Prawn Crackers: Haram

Although Calbee appears to sell halal versions of this tasty shrimp snack in Thailand and Malaysia, the crackers sold here in Japan are haram.

3. Tokyo Banana: Mixed

Tokyo Banana is one of the most popular omiyage (souvenirs) to bring back from Tokyo. Unfortunately, the original cake shown above, and most of the other products contain gelatin or unspecified oil products that are uncertain.

However, the ingredient list of the fluffy, scrumptious Castella Cake is much simpler and seems okay to my eyes:

Ingredients
Sugar, Egg Yolk(contains Egg), Egg White, Wheat Flour, Starch Syrup, Sugar Products (Sugar, Banana Powder), Vegetable Oil, Flavor
*This product is processed in a facility that also processes dairy products.

However, it is unclear whether or not the Castella Cake product comes into contact with the other products containing gelatin, so proceed with caution.

Check out the link to the website below to see details and ingredients of all the Tokyo Banana products.

4. Kit Kat: Haram

Although products such as the popular green tea Kit Kat appear to be free of haram ingredients, an official statement on Nestle Japan's website states that Nestle Japan does not have any halal certification.
Also, according to a post on Halal Japan's facebook page, it appears that even kit kat products that do not contain haram ingredients are mixed with other products that contain shortening on the production line.

5. Alfort Biscuits: Halal!

According to a post by Halal foods in Japan's Facebook page, the delicious, chocolate coated Alfort biscuits found in every convenience store and super market are halal! However, like most Japanese companies, Bourbon, the producer does not have any official certification.

6. Kinoko No Yama: Halal!

According to a post on Halal Japan's Facebook page, the shortening and emulsifiers used in the mushroom-shaped chocolate covered biscuits Kinoko no Yama are plant-based and halal.

7. Jagabee Potato Sticks: Haram

Another Calbee product, Jagabee sold in Japan is also, unfortunately, haram. If you buy the tasty potato sticks in Thailand or the Philippines, you should be okay, but at the moment, Japan still has some catching up to do.

8. Cup Ramen: Mostly haram

Since the soup stock is made from a complex combination of ingredients including various meat products, almost all cup ramen you will find in Japan is haram. Don't worry, though, there are quite a few restaurants in Japan selling real ramen that is halal! Who needs instant when you can have the real thing? https://favy-jp.com/topics/123

9. Onigiri from the Convenience Store: Mixed

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Onigiri is a very simple Japanese snack that consists of a rice ball filled or topped with various ingredients. They can be found all over, including at every convenience store. Although it would seem like the simple ingredients would be halal, many use seasonings that include alcohol (sake, mirin, etc.), so it is best to be careful. Halal in Japan maintains a useful Facebook page that includes halal onigiri from the most popular convenience stores. Use it as a reference when choosing your onigiri!

10. Mochi: Depends

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Mochi is a sticky rice cake traditionally made from pounding steamed glutinous rice until it forms into a stretchy, sticky dough-like cake. Mochi is enjoyed in many different ways, but one of the most common products you will see are mochi balls with a sweet filling of some sort.

If the mochi was made in a more traditional way, then it will only contain rice and whatever fillings are combined with it. However, mass-produced mochi sold at super markets and convenience stores often contains emulsifiers that are unclear in their origin.

To be safe, you're best to buy mochi from a specialty store or wagashiya (store selling traditional Japanese sweets), as they are likely to use fresh, high quality mochi without added ingredients.

Last Word

I hope that this list of popular snacks and their halal status was useful to you! Finding halal snacks in Japan can be tricky, but I wish you the best of luck.
DeLong
I live in west Tokyo and spend my time thinking about food and going bouldering.

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