I had lunch with two dear friends a couple of days ago, and we went to my favourite Japanese restaurant. As we broke bread sushi and slurped ramen, I told them about my love for everything Japanese. And there’s so much to love – shokunin and ramen, tatami mats, the subway system, sake, depachikas, stationery, manga, Marie Kondo, mochi, game shows, even the incredible potties. There’s something deliciously quirky about everyday things done the Nipponese way. Everything is just FUNNER and COOLER.

But the thing I love the most about Japan is the dagashi (snacks and candy). Walking into a store in Japan is a wonderful assault on the senses – you want to run around with your arms open wide, gathering up as much as you can carry away in sacks and bags and suitcases and crates. It’s just an infinite variety of the weirdest and wildly entertaining things to snack on. I missed them muchly until, in 2010, a fit of nostalgic searching on the interwebs led me to Candy Japan, a curated subscription service started by Bemmu, a Finnish immigrant and his Japanese partner. Every month two envelopes loaded with Bemmu’s thoughtfully curated snacks and sweets would make their way to me via Japan Post and our IPS. Every single one was wonderful and delicious.

Candy Japan stayed strong even when newer and fancier variants like Bokksuarrived on the scene until the pandemic forced a pause on worldwide shipping.

If candy’s not your thing, there’s Japan Haul, with hundreds of interesting Japanese savouries and drinks. You can choose the contents of your box (all those different kinds of ramen! Oh my!) There are subscription services for tea, stationery and make-up that deliver worldwide, though I haven’t tried them. I’ll stick with my dagashi, thank you.

Arigatou gozaimasu for reading . All this writing about my favourite things has made me utterly miserable. So, write back and tell me your favourite snacks and where they’re from. I want to know.

Much love, Karina

PS Love *Whatsitcalledagain? Forward this to a friend so we can say Konnichiwa

[We’re very close to a proper name, I promise]