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Tokyo Banana: bring home the Japanese version of a Twinkie

Tokyo Banana– an irresistible Tokyo Souvenir

tokyo banana shop japan souvenir

The Tokyo banana employees are very friendly and helpful. Plus they look adorable in their uniforms

When passing through Tokyo station, you can’t miss the Tokyo Banana shops– the super-cute, bright yellow shop fronts are designed to attract attention. During rush hour, you’ll even see long lines of locals queuing up for these baked banana treats. Although I was ready to stockpile the bananas for gifts based on the packaging alone, I decided to taste-test them first. For research of course.

Taste-testing Tokyo Bananas

tokyo banana souvenir twinkie

Tokyo bananas look like a cross between a banana and an amoeba. Photo by Ari Heliminen.

Think of a Tokyo Banana as an upscale version of a Twinkie. Like a Twinkie, the Tokyo Banana’s custard center is surrounded by moist sponge cake.

But unlike a Twinkie– which is so hopped up with preservatives that you can stash them in a bomb shelter for the next 50 years– Tokyo Bananas are perishable, and even date-stamped for freshness.

The freshness of a Tokyo banana really makes a difference in the flavor– instead of the artificial-tasting fluff in a Twinkie’s center, a Tokyo Banana’s center is made with a rich, velvety cream, flavored with just a hint of natural banana.

tokyo banana bag shop store souvenir best sweets

The Tokyo banana bags are perfect for gifting.

Tokyo bananas easily passed my taste-test, so I picked up several boxes to bring home as souvenirs and gifts. I loved the adorable bag they came in and ended up requesting extra bags so I could present each  gift with its own matching bag.

tokyo banana bag souvenir japan japanese best sweets

Photo by Karen A. Stafford

My friend Karen also saved her cute bag from Tokyo Banana– she lucked out and got a special-edition reusable bag.

tokyo banana bag engrish best japanese souvenir

Photo by Karen A. Stafford.

A close up shot of the back of Karen’s Tokyo Banana bag reveals some fun “Engrish”:

People gather to TOKYO from here and there with memories of their home. And then, Tokyo gets the everyone’s home town.

Have you tried a Tokyo Banana? Share in the comments below!
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tokyo banana souvenir from Japan

Photo Credits:
Photos #1 & #3 by Souvenir Finder Copyright 2014 and may not be used without permission.
Photo #2, Tokyo Banana, courtesy of Ari Helminen Photography, used with permission.
Photo #4 & 5, Tokyo Banana bags, courtesy of photographer Karen A. Stafford (link to Karen’s flickr portfolio here).

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15 Responses to Tokyo Banana: bring home the Japanese version of a Twinkie

  1. sueslaght 03/30/2014 at 5:15 pm #

    Have you just been to Japan? Tokyo bananas. Who knew?

    • Kristin Francis 03/30/2014 at 5:59 pm #

      I wish, I love Japan! No, this has been in draft mode for 6 months– I have so many Japan souvenirs I would have been blogging about them for months lol, so I switched it up. They are actually my most popular posts (especially my post on why you should never buy a kimono!). I also haven’t had much time to write lately with moving from wp.com to self-hosted, what a headache!!

  2. Amy 03/31/2014 at 2:34 pm #

    I love this idea! Would love to taste one. 🙂

    • Kristin Francis 04/01/2014 at 11:40 pm #

      They are so good! Not nearly as sweet as American treats. They always have special editions out too– my favorite was banana strawberry.

  3. Escape Hunter 04/08/2014 at 7:42 am #

    So cute, looks delicious and spongy!
    Japan is a great place for eating yourself around and their cookies, the sweets are soooooooo weird! Many are alltogether sweet-sour-salty…

    • Kristin Francis 04/09/2014 at 8:51 am #

      I always tried to taste test before buying, because the sweets often did not taste anything like what I was expecting them to, and I kept mistaking red bean for chocolate!

  4. Debbie Yee Lan Wong 05/04/2014 at 9:34 am #

    I loved this post! Tokyo Banana is a cross between a banana and an amoeba. haha! made me laugh out loud. I want to try this. Years ago, I lived in Hiroshima and I marveled at all the wacky food stuff they had. thx for sharing this!

    • Kristin Francis 05/04/2014 at 5:44 pm #

      Thanks Debbie! We went to Hiroshima too but only for a quick day trip. Yum still remember the delicious okonomiyaki at the train station!

  5. thegreatamericanweddingexpo 07/10/2014 at 8:29 pm #

    I’m wondering if they taste like Mickey Banana Flips. Those used to be popular in the 80’s, but are no longer made. I guess I will have to order some from Japan! 🙂

    • Kristin Francis 07/11/2014 at 9:08 pm #

      I had to google those, I’ve never heard of them! Funny I guess banana cakes are an international thing!

  6. thegreatamericanweddingexpo 07/10/2014 at 8:30 pm #

    Oh, and they look like giraffe skin. Ha Ha!

  7. Sarah Curtis 08/24/2015 at 12:32 pm #

    My dad brought some back with him when he came back from a trip to Japan. I love them immensely and they’re more satisfying than a Twinkie. Anyone who calls them a “Japanese Twinkie” or similar is insulting Tokyo Bananas. The spongecake is moist and the cream isn’t heavy, making for a satisfying snack.

    I wish they were easier to buy in the US.

  8. nazreen nazwani 09/06/2015 at 12:59 am #

    hello there, can i know where to find this shop? thanks! ????

  9. Anonymous 12/25/2015 at 12:48 pm #

    Never heard of this until now. Thanks, I live to explorer with my taste buds. Thanks!!!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. A Guide to Regional Omiyage from Across Japan | Whisked Abroad - 09/05/2014

    […] The Twinkie of Japan. But don’t let that statement deter you, these soft cream-filled cakes are actually good unlike their American distant-cousins. You’ll see stands for these treats everywhere in Tokyo, and even Tokyo Banana merchandise like cellphone charms and plushies. They are truly the perfect Tokyo souvenir. […]

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