A Mini Guide to Japan’s Seasonal Drink and Snack Ingredients

If you follow me on Twitter or watch my Instagram stories (and if you don’t, you totally should) you know that I’m a fan of limited edition seasonal stuff. I’m always trying out the latest product that has 新発売 (new release/shin hatsubai) or 期間限定  (for a limited time only/kikan gentei) plastered on it. In fact, the Japanese text in my Twitter profile proudly states, “I’m addicted to limited edition things” (#期間限定に弱い/kikan gentei ni yowaii).

Today I’m sharing my love of limited edition snacks and drinks with this guide to seasonal Japanese ingredients.

This is by no means an exhaustive list. Sometimes snack and drink makers throw a curve ball and release products that are completely unrelated to the season. Still, feel free to use this as a reference guide. But be warned, once you start sampling limited edition snacks and drinks, you won’t be able to stop!


For some reason, winter sweets seem to be heavy on flavor – and loaded with calories! With Christmas, New Year’s and Valentine’s Day coming one right after another, winter is an endless parade of chocolates, Christmas cake and more chocolates. Plus, you can’t forget all the wonderful hot drink concoctions that warm you up even on the coldest of days.

Flavors to try:

Mandarin orange (みかん/mikan)

Apple (りんご/ringo)

Strawberry (いちご/ichigo)

Christmas cake (クリスマスケーキkurisumasu ke—ki)

Chocolate (チョコ/choko)



Right around Valentine’s Day Starbucks releases its sakura collection. From then, lighter flavors replace the rich, intense taste of chocolate, especially after White Day (March 14, when men return chocolates to women). 

Fun fact: Why do spring flavors like sakura (cherry blossom) come out in early February? Because February 4 is risshun (立春), the start of spring. The day before, February 3 is setsubun (節分) which literally translates as “divide the seasons” AKA the day between winter and spring. #themoreyouknow

Flavors to try:

Ume/Japanese plum (梅)

Sakura/Cherry Blossoms (桜)

Peach (桃/momo)

Chocolate (チョコ/choko)




Summer in Japan means beaches, fireworks, and festivals (祭り/matsuri). Festivities aside, summer in Japan, especially its urban areas, are notoriously hot and humid. Nearly every day on the news there’s a segment dedicated to the number of heatstroke victims across Japan.

Along with sugary sweet tropical fruit flavors, you’ll find plenty of soft drinks and throat lozenges enhanced with electrolytes in an attempt to help combat heat stroke. Gardening in the early morning or evening and not having high schoolers play baseball when it’s 35 degrees out might help lower the numbers… but what do I know?

Flavors to try:

Watermelon (スイカ/suika)

Lemon (レモン/remon)

Salt (塩/shio)

Tropical (トロピカル/toropikaru —mango, dragonfruit, pineapple etc from Japan’s sunny southern regions of Kyushu and Okinawa)



Autumn is perhaps the best time to experience Japan, its culture, and cuisine. Summer vacation is over, meaning fewer crowds and more seats on buses, planes, and trains. Plus the weather is pleasant and mild, you’ll want to go out every day.

I really recommend staying at a traditional Japanese inn (旅館/ryokan) with a hot spring (温泉/onsen) so that you can experience the wonderful world of kaiseki ryori (会席料理). Kaiseki ryori is a course meal that can best be described as edible art. Of course, before you go, you must hit the convenience store for limited edition treats to tide you over on the train ride!

Flavors to try:

Figs (イチジク/ichijiku)

Grapes (ぶどう/budou)

Japanese sweet potato (さつまいも/satsumaimo)

Chestnut (栗/kuri)

Mushrooms (きのこ/kinoko)

Pumpkin (かぼちゃ/kabocha)

Houjicha (ほうじ茶)

Persimmon (柿/kaki)

Got a favorite seasonal food? Let me know in the comments!

A Mini Guide to Japan’s Seasonal Drink and Snack Ingredients

Check out my other posts and articles on Japan’s seasons and tasty delights:

10 Reasons Why Autumn is the Best Time to Experience Tokyo



Explore the Wonderful World of Matcha KitKat (Live Japan)

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