If there’s one thing Japan is known for, it’s the country’s incredible range of seafood. Surrounded by the sea, Japan’s geographic position has significantly influenced its culinary traditions, with seafood playing a prominent role. Beyond sushi and sashimi, the Japanese love for seafood also extends to their snack culture. From savoury to sweet, spicy to umami-rich, Japanese seafood snacks are delicious and exciting. Let’s take a deep dive into this fascinating world!

 

A Bite-sized History Lesson: Influence of Seafood in Japanese Snack Culture


Photo by photoAC

The impact of seafood on Japanese cuisine can be traced back centuries, where coastal communities would preserve their bountiful catches as a means of survival during harsh winters. Preserved seafood eventually found its way into everyday snacks, with traditional methods still being used today.

Snacks like rice crackers, or senbei (煎餅), often include a hint of shrimp or seaweed, while other snacks consist entirely of dried seafood. Over time, these seafood snacks have become an integral part of Japanese culture, shared during family gatherings, festival celebrations, and as thoughtful gifts.

 

Ebi Senbei (Shrimp Rice Crackers)


Photo by photoAC

Ebi Senbei (エビ煎餅) is one of the most popular seafood snacks in Japan. These crispy rice crackers pack a punch of flavor thanks to the infusion of shrimp. Perfectly crunchy, these snacks often come with a hint of soy sauce, which pairs beautifully with the seafood flavour. If you’re looking for a seafood snack that’s more similar to the chips you’re used to, Ebi Senbei is a perfect choice—but there’s more to this snack than meets the eye.

Originating from the coastal regions of Japan, Ebi Senbei have a deep connection with Japan’s historical fishing culture. Traditional versions of this snack still use locally caught shrimp, creating an authentic taste that transports you straight to the shores of Japan. 

 

Kaki No Tane (Persimmon Seeds)


Photo by Pakutaso

Don’t be fooled by the name—these snacks don’t contain any persimmon! Instead, Kaki No Tane (柿の種), also known as “Kakipea,” is a mix of rice crackers and peanuts, often flavoured with soy sauce and a spicy kick from red pepper. The name comes from their resemblance to persimmon seeds.

While not strictly a seafood snack, they often come packaged with tiny dried sardines, making them a delectable treat for seafood lovers. The combination of spicy, salty, and sweet, along with the crunchy texture, makes Kaki No Tane incredibly addictive.

 

 

Ika (Squid) Snacks

Grilled squid
Photo by Pakutaso

Japanese cuisine would be incomplete without squid, and that extends to their snack culture too. Dried, cured, and seasoned squid snacks, known as Surume (スルメ) or Ika (イカ), are popular across the country. They have a chewy texture, similar to beef jerky, with a unique combination of sweet, salty, and umami flavors that keep you reaching for more.

Squid snacks often come in strips, resembling the shape of the squid from which they’re made. Enjoy them with a cold beer or sake, and you’ve got yourself a traditional Japanese izakaya experience right at home!

 

Tarako and Mentaiko (Cod Roe) Snacks

Mentaiko, spicy cod roe
Photo by Pakutaso

Japan’s culinary affinity for roe extends to their snack culture with Tarako (たらこ) and Mentaiko (明太子) flavoured snacks. Tarako refers to plain, salted cod roe, while Mentaiko is marinated with spices and ingredients like chili pepper, providing a burst of flavor. Whether it’s chips, crackers, or tiny bite-sized snacks, the unique flavours of Tarako and Mentaiko are quite popular.

Like other seafood snacks, these roe-infused goodies can be traced back to Japan’s coastal regions, where roe was plentiful. Enjoy these treats and experience a unique part of Japanese seafood culture.

 

Nori (Seaweed) Snacks

Nori seaweed wrapped sushiPhoto by Pakutaso

No list of Japanese seafood snacks would be complete without nori (海苔), or seaweed. Used in everything from sushi to soups, seaweed is a staple in Japanese cuisine.

When it comes to snacks, nori comes in many forms—dried sheets, seasoned strips, or even wrapped around rice crackers or puffed grain snacks. The taste is subtly salty, with a hint of the sea, and a umami depth that’s incredibly satisfying. And it’s not just the taste that’s impressive—nori is packed with minerals like iodine and calcium, making it a healthy snack choice.

 

Bringing the Taste of Japan to You with JAPAN RAIL CLUB

While we’ve covered some of the most popular Japanese seafood snacks, there’s so much more to explore. Each region of Japan has its local specialties, variations, and flavors. This richness in diversity is what makes Japanese snack culture so fascinating and enjoyable.

 

The good news is, you don’t have to travel or swim across the ocean to Japan to experience these delightful treats! With our Japanese Snack Box Subscription, you can explore a wide variety of snacks, including these seafood delicacies, right from the comfort of your home. Each box is carefully curated every month to provide an authentic taste of Japan, with snacks sourced directly from their regions of origin.

From us here at JAPAN RAIL CLUB, we promise to curate the best snacks that embody the spirit of the season. Happy snacking!