This is the current availability of Japanese snacks at my present location, and what a sad lot it is!
When I left Japan, there were a lot of question marks about the future of this blog. I knew that I wanted to continue, but I wasn't sure in what capacity I could. One thing is for certain and that is that I can't post about the same types of snacks that I did when I actually resided in Tokyo. If that sounds like a lament, it's not. In fact, it's actually a good thing from my perspective.
The truth is that, after years of buying snacks, I was starting to feel fairly bored by a lot of what was on offer. Yes, there was the occasional rather extreme weirdness which was a stand-out like the twice-a-year odd Pepsi or Coke and the very rare strange KitKat which was actually "strange" and not just typical for Japan and therefore more curious to outsiders. While I would have never ran out of things to review, there was absolutely starting to be a real sense of "sameness" in what I could get my hands on, particularly as the seasonal repeats kept getting trotted out again and again. I could only review so many wasabi sembei, green tea sweets, or kinako candies before it felt old hat. My hat was looking pretty beat up by the time I left.
If you want to know how boring it can get, check out the Onion's AV Club's occasional review of Japanese snacks. The "European Cheese" KitKat that I reviewed in November 2010 showed up on their rotation on March 26, 2012. That's a bit past the sell-by date. ;-) They don't even really want them. They just review what J-Box sends them for free because it's there. Their enthusiasm is so weak that they wait months (or years) to review limited edition items such that they are no longer available by the time the reviews appear. And these people have far less to be jaded about than I do as these are actual novelties to them.
That is not to say that I no longer have an interest in Japanese snacks. That would be very far from the truth, but after awhile, having full access starts to mean less and less. I'm still interested in such snacks, but I don't think that only those things which can be had in Japan are of value for me to try. There are Japanese-style (and imported) items in America to be tried and comparisons to be made about the difference between what is offered in each country. Years of eating everything (and nearly anything) have given me a perspective that I could never have acquired otherwise. As one of my kind commenters suggested, there is also the potential for me to approach American snacks from the perspective of someone who hasn't had them for a long time and is well-acclimated to a different taste and presentation. The truth is that this idea was already on my mind because things are definitely not as expected on that front.
Another point is that one thing which consistently nagged at me as I went about my business of snacking and reviewing was the way in which dumb people were occasionally writing to me and asking me to sell them snacks (as they thought I sold what I reviewed for reasons that mystify me) and lovely people with much better reading comprehension skills who were interested in the snacks I wrote about asked me how they might acquire such rarities. From where I was, I was in no position to know how one could get such things from outside of Japan. From where I am now (which is somewhere in the San Juan Islands), I can only access what everyone else can through the same means that they have.
So, the state of the blog is that things will have to change, but I hope to largely maintain the focus on Japanese food, and snacks in particular. I still have a backlog of reviews of things I had in Japan as well as a stash of things that I brought with me. The reviews of uniquely Japanese things that can be bought only in Japan aren't drying up (and are unlikely to go away entirely for various reasons, least of which that I still have connections in Japan). Eventually though, my stash will be tapped out, but that's okay. Part of what I did was eat the food and talk about how it tasted, but I also simply let people know what was out there and what it was all about. That is something I can continue to do through product release information. I will be incorporating posts which talk about what is out in Japan, even if I personally can't buy such items. Frankly speaking, I don't know that this is incredibly different for my readers, particularly when they couldn't acquire those items anyway. If it sounds interesting and you're going to Japan, it doesn't matter if I put it in my mouth and told you if I liked it because each person's sense of taste is different. It mainly matters that you know enough to look for it and have some idea of where to find it.
Right now, my access to everything, and I mean everything, including all sorts of American products, is limited by my location. I also do not have a permanent address and will be a nomad until around October. That means that I can't really set up a connection with importers without switching addresses 4 times in less than 6 months. Eventually, I will make such connections, and I will definitely gain better access to stores with imports, but, for now, I'm going to have to go with what I have. I hope my readers will bear with me as this blog finds a new footing. I'm looking forward to the new challenge and focus. Thanks for reading.