Friday, December 4, 2009

Variety Friday: Machioka Candy Shops

The front of an Okashi no Machioka shop (click any picture to see a larger version).

On many occasions, I've mentioned that I have picked up one product or another at a "discount candy shop". That shop is Okashi no Machioka (おかしのまちおか). "Okashi" is Japanese for "candy" or "sweets", though these shops actually carry a wide variety of snacks including sembei, salted snacks, drinks, and diet-oriented snack foods.

Boxes of stock cluttering already pretty narrow aisles is the norm in many Tokyo stores. It makes navigating these places a chore.

Okashi no Machioka is a chain so their shops are located in various areas of Japan with many located in Tokyo but some in neighboring areas. If you can read Japanese, you can access their web site to find out where their shops are located. All of the stores have the same white on red lettering that you see in the picture at the top of this post and there are often pictures of their little blond-haired mascot, Machiko, pasted or hanging around the shop.

Machiko, the mascot, looks on at a "mild bitter" bag of KitKat minis that are exclusive to Machioka's stores. (image pinched from Okashi no Machioka's web site)

The shop carries a lot of items that aren't readily available in other outlets such as markets or convenience stores, but it also has special Machioka-only items. Recently, for instance, they have collaborated with Nestle Japan to make a KitKat mini which is an exclusive to their shops. This mini is a "mild bitter" flavor which I'll try to review at some point soon.

Products that are normally 100 yen are marked down to 84 yen at Machioka.

There are actually two of these shops located within walking distance of my apartment. Each carry similar, but not exactly the same inventory. Both have boxes of items sitting in the front in copious quantities and carry an interesting array of snacks for a cheaper than usual price. The best thing to hit them up for are items that are about to be or already discontinued, but such bargains are unpredictable.

If you are in Japan and interested in snacks, these shops are worth looking up and visiting if you're in the general area of one anyway. I'm not sure they're worth going out of your way for unless you check the web site and there is an announcement of a Machioka-only item of interest. Though the snacks are cheaper there and the selection different, the price cuts are not that deep. That being said, for someone who does what I do, these shops are a gold mine.


Anonymous said...

I love these shops... they are so much fun to see all the packaging. I get many of my meal replacement bars and stuff in there, I have not been to one in a while though. Sadly the closest is 20 min by car away..... you are very lucky to have one just up the street from your flat...

I saw the POM juice candy.. POM is one of my favorite orange juices next to Minute Maid.

I can't wait to read more of your reviews.. esp your thoughts on the Sweet Potato chips (my husbands favorite).

(( Ms. K )) said...

I be buying snacks like crazy if I was there :P Always the packaging gets to me.

Sera said...

Oh man, I SO want a return trip to Japan NOW so I can visit one of these!

Orchid64 said...

Thanks to all for taking the time to comment and read!

Anonymous: I sent POM hi-chew to my friend in America and he really liked it. I haven't tried the POM candies in my picture yet, though they may vanish before I get to them! It is odd that there are two of these shops so close to my place. One is, fortunately, close to a supermarket I go to once or twice a week.

Ms. K: One of the things that I think I'll miss when I leave Japan is the whole "oooo, shiny" feeling when I see Japanese packaging. I think it has to do with it being Japanese and not any really fabulous design.

Sera: If you make your way back, I'll be looking forward to a post on such a visit. I've added a link to your blog to my list!