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Why You Must Bring Home a Tokyo Banana to Your Loved Ones

A golden spongy treat is the ultimate (and anticipated!) Tokyo souvenir.

Japan has a rich gift-giving culture. From the wrapping to of the present, thoughtful care is put into every gift. The tradition of bringing home omiyage (or gifted souvenirs) from a destination visited typically involves the purchase of individually wrapped and beautifully boxed sweet treats or snacks. But these presents are more than a nice gesture–they are essentially expected from a returning visitor!

The Tokyo airports and markets contain aisle after aisle of visually arresting omiyage displays. But of these fanned out goodies, none shines brighter than the fluffy golden allure of the Tokyo Banana. Exclusive to Tokyo and easiest to locate in the airport (adding to the frenzied purchasing you will witness at Haneda Airport), theses sweet cakes sprang into the market in 1991 and have staked the claim as the ultimate gift to bring home.

 Tokyo Banana

The traditional Tokyo Banana consists of an individually wrapped steamed sponge cake filled with a slightly sweet banana custard. Other varieties include a caramel-flavored banana custard cake, a chocolate sponge cake, and the equally yummy Ginza Strawberry, a strawberry-shaped sponge cake filled with strawberry puree. The Tokyo Banana company even has its own shops where you can buy every variety (dubbed “species”) available in one place (find these in various train stations such as Shinjuku station, Ueno station, and Shinagawa station). Cram as many boxes of these as you like into your luggage before take-off, but keep in mind they are best if eaten within seven days of purchase, though refrigeration can stretch this a bit. Tokyo Bananas are the perfect (and hotly anticipated) souvenir to bring home and share with friends and family!

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