A Taste of Japan: Tiny Cookies

In 2000 we had a Japanese exchange student, Tomo. She was such a sweetheart, probably really overwhelmed by the volume of our family dynamic and maybe a little frustrated by my mother’s inability to understand accents (that includes ALL accents, such as those from England or Alabama).

Before she hopped on her return flight to Tokyo, I asked her “What do you like best about the U.S.?” And she said “Everything is SO big in America! The houses, the cars, the food, the PEOPLE!” And the 20lbs she gained during her time in the U.S. was a testament to how well she embraced our lifestyle. Now that I’ve been to Japan and seen the portion sizes myself (check out how teeeeeeensy tiny that cookie is!) I am certain she shed those American pounds soon after she returned home. I, on the other hand, haven’t embraced the tiny portions unless you count eating tons of tiny portions ’embracing’ them.


I have, as you may know, an undying and crippling love of cheese. But cheese isn’t plentiful in Japan (oh Europe, how I miss thee) and it also isn’t cheap. Some kind of supply and demand thing I’m sure. So in the absence of my first love, I am now focused on my second obsession: sweets and treats.

In sharp contrast to their cheese situation, the Japanese have a very well-developed sweet tooth. And I plan to explore all of the offerings one by one.

I started with what I like to call ‘Care Bear cookies’ because look how cute all those little colored bears are!? Also, I had to make something up because I can’t read anything here. At. All.

Each sleeve cost roughly 1USD, a bargain. But which one do you choose? I only had the vague illustrations and the colors of the bears to go by. So I chose the five at random (ok not RANDOM per se, 4 of the 5 appeared chocolate-related so I might have been biased) and set out taste testing. I let Dave help…not because I’m generous but because it was just plain rude not to.

From left to right:

Fuchsia Bear – Some kind of butter cookie, a bit like shortbread. Dave loves it, I felt it would have been improved with ANY kind of chocolate.

Black Bear – Picture a flattened Corn Nut with chocolate chips in it because that’s EXACTLY what this tasted like. Weird, right? Err, I mean, not weird, different.

Chartreuse Bear –  Green tea flavored with little chocolate chips! A delight! After this photo was taken I secretly took that sleeve and put it in the backseat of the car where I then ate them sneakily while Dave drove and I pretended to be entertaining the baby.

Pink Bear – A sandwich of vanilla cookies with chocolate cream! What’s not to love!? I ate the whole sleeve. Right then.

Purple Bear – Have you ever found yourself eating a Fig Newton and thinking ‘this Fig Newton is great, but what if the fig was CHOCOLATE instead?!’ Has no one at Fig Newton headquarters ever thought this? Well if they haven’t, too late, the Japanese beat them to it.

11 thoughts on “A Taste of Japan: Tiny Cookies

  1. Love the post! Love reading about food 🙂
    I do similar excursions at the Vietnamese market a few blocks south of us…except I’m exploring dried foods. Sweet potato strings are my fav… and these chili covered tamarind pieces…delicious. Ginger is okay but a bit strong. When I’m working on grad school stuff I feel better eating dried treats vs. candy candy!
    Second your love of chocolate… I think purple bear sounds the most delicious! I’ve also been exploring dark chocolate bars lately 🙂 Miss you!

  2. Ha! Your mom is totally my mom. We always had to turn up the TV when accents were involved.

    Speaking of sweets, I read (heard?) somewhere that there was a Ladurée macaron shop opening in Japan? I think those cookies are even smaller than macarons!

  3. Isn’t sampling the confections one of the best parts of exploring a new place? I hope you’re able to find some chocolate! I don’t know how you are surviving without the cheese.

  4. Whoooaa. Not much cheese? Sad face. BUT along with my newly discovered sweet tooth that has immerged post-pregnancy I am LOVING this cookie review. Although choco-figgie newts. No thanks. Green tea cookies -YES please! PS I’m an concocting the most amazing care package to send you… Let me know if you have requests, otherwise it will be a random box of amazingness. Keep the food reviews coming -interesting, mouth watering and fun! Muuuah!

  5. I just did a cookie review from the Cookie Jar last night! I think the sugar cookie wins, although the peanut butter chocolate was amazing!

  6. Laughed at this because I am totally the same in my thinking, “this is okay, but add some chocolate and it would be a lot better!”

  7. Cute post–I lived in Japan for about a year or so. The cookies with the black bear on them are “black bean” cookies. They’re not the black beans you’re used to from the States, though–the beans the Japanese call “black beans” (literal translation) are a fair deal sweeter. They show up rather frequently in Japanese candy. 🙂 Good luck finding cheese! It’s do-able, but really expensive because there isn’t much demand, except in the ex-pat community. If you have friends who have access to a military commissary, that might be one way to get it!

    1. Thanks Marie! 🙂 Luckily the cheese is easy to find, cheddar, gouda, mozzerella, paramsean all in our local grocery stores (and we don’t live in an expat area) but it’s just the cost that kills me! We used it for special meals, having Italian or Mexican once a week as a treat! 🙂

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