Home > Focus on Japan 2007 > See’s in Japan

See’s in Japan

December 12th, 2007

As Sachi and I get ready for the trip to the United States, something we’re planning to buy in the U.S. is See’s candies. If you don’t know about See’s, then I pity you–they sell, in my opinion, the best chocolates in the Universe. I taste a Godiva’s or any other chocolate, and it pales in comparison. See’s is the ultimate chocolate, bar none.

Which is probably why I am so fortunate that they are not readily available in Japan, or I might be tempted more often. Even in my trips back to the U.S., I have to control myself. I have it down to a ritual: bring back a few pounds of candies, and ration them out to one piece a week, enjoyed slowly and thoroughly. Back in my skinny I-can-eat-anything days, I would easily down a whole pound of the stuff in a week, maybe three different purchases in the week on my way back from working at Green Library at Stanford. A bag full of a dozen or more pieces, and I would chomp through them in minutes, and then get ready for dinner.

As I said, they are not readily available in Japan–but they can be gotten. If you are completely insane, or desperate. Or obscenely wealthy. They have a See’s Candy shop in Harajuku, on a side road on the north side of Omote-Sando Boulevard, nearer to the Omote-Sando Station end of the street.


It’s not just the location that makes it less accessible: it’s the price. See’s in the U.S. is currently $14.50 (¥1620) per pound. In Japan:


Yes, you’re reading that correctly: ¥6090 per pound, or nearly $55 per pound in U.S. dollars. Nearly four times the price in the U.S. Sachi and I had, between us, a Butterscotch Square, a Scotch Kiss, and a Vanilla Caramel Nut square. Each candy averages less than a cubic inch. Theoretically bite-sized, we made them last a bit longer. And for good reason–we paid about ¥930, or almost eight and a half dollars, for those three little pieces. Nearly three bucks for one candy.

One last comparison: in the U.S., See’s traditionally gives out a free sample to each customer. You can even request a specific candy to try. Here in Japan, for their exorbitant prices, you’d think they could afford to give you at least that much. But not really. They give out samples, but each is a piece cut into quarters–every customer gets a quarter of a piece of candy.


In reflection, one can understand the logic. For example, in Sachi’s and my case, we bought three pieces; were they to give us each a full candy as a sample, that would have equalled two-thirds of our purchase, or supposedly $6 worth of candy.

Not that they can’t afford it; my brother and his wife had some See’s air mailed to them recently, and it cost less than half of what it would have from the Harajuku store; surely See’s can cut that cost even further. They are profiting from the position as a luxury product.

Just as well; I would likely lose more than a few years of my life were I to buy the stuff and eat it more often.

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  1. Tim Kane
    December 12th, 2007 at 14:47 | #1

    When I go to Crispy Creme’s in Korea, (something I would never do in the States by the way) they usually give me a donut, and usually I am buying just one donut. I don’t seem to mind, and they don’t seem to mind :). Its a strange thing that I buy McDonald’s cheeseburgers and Crispy Creme donut’s in Korea but rarely in the U.S. – except they both seem to be better quality here then in the U.S. and perhaps its makes me feel more at home for just a bit. Still they are unhealthy food items so I shouldn’t eat them in either location.

  2. December 12th, 2007 at 16:08 | #2

    Speaking as your brother’s wife, I was unaware we were having any See’s candy sent over from the U.S. Perhaps you know something I don’t.

  3. December 13th, 2007 at 01:34 | #3

    Well, I see I must locate some See’s candies and give them a taste.

  4. Luis
    December 13th, 2007 at 02:20 | #4

    Shari: hmm. Maybe my dad got it wrong, or I misunderstood him. He seemed to thing that he’d shipped you guys some See’s. maybe it was some time ago, and not recently. Or maybe I just really blew a big Christmas surprise….

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