Traditional & Culture

Miya’s Top 5 Japanese Cigarette Recommendations (For Adults Only!)

There’s no question that smoking is bad for your health, but Japan is a stressed-out country, which means they’ve got a lot of different cigarette options. From fruity flavors to sharp menthol, smokers will find a lot of interesting cigarettes to try in Japan, and maybe some to take home as souvenirs. These are a few of my personal Japanese cigarette recommendations!

Smoking in Japan

Man or woman, young or old, smoking in Japan knows no bounds. It’s a beautiful country, for sure, but thanks to cramped city environments and extreme overtime hours, it can be a stressful place to live, making smoking a commonplace escape from the everyday hustle and bustle. As a Taiwanese girl visiting Japan, I, Miya, was surprised to find that cigarettes can even be purchased from vending machines! Compared to places like the US, where flavored cigarettes are generally banned, the flavor options are plentiful. Plus, compared to my home country of Taiwan, taxes on tobacco products are also relatively low in Japan, keeping cigarette prices accessible even on a budget.

On the other hand, the government has become increasingly strict in recent years when it comes to where smoking is allowed. To prevent smokers from infringing on the rights of others, especially when it comes to second-hand smoke, smoking on the streets or most public spaces is not allowed. You might even see “no smoking” signs in alleyways, and most locals tend to obey the laws and stick to designated smoking areas when out and about. These areas are actually pretty common, especially around train stations and other gathering places, so make sure you go with the flow and stick to the smoking areas when consuming tobacco products in Japan! Keep on the right side of the law if you’re going to smoke in Japan.

Of course, not all Japanese smoking areas are out in the cold (or the sweltering summer heat)! Unlike Taiwan (and many other countries in the 21st century), plenty of Japanese cafes and izakaya restaurants actually still allow smoking indoors, whether it be in designated smoking booths, different seating areas, or sometimes just anywhere at all. These places generally come supplied with ashtrays, and sometimes even lighters, making them popular with office workers on their breaks. If you’re looking for a place to try your funky new Japanese cigarettes, you too can join the ranks of office workers puffing away at these cafes and eateries around Japan.

▲ A cafe smoking booth in Tokyo.

I may not be a cigarette expert, but the dazzling variety of Japanese tobacco products really surprised me when I first arrived. Just looking at the lineup in convenience stores made me want to try all the intriguing flavors and the new cigarette technology. So after puffing away over the past few months, I’ve put together a list of some of Japan’s most unique and interesting cigarette options for smokers to try on their next trip to the country!

My Japanese Cigarette Recommendations

① Pianissimo Peach Mint Flavor

Pianissimo cigarettes are known in Japan for their freshness, their smooth, mild flavor, and their light acidity. I think this “peach mint” flavor lives up to the name, and when smoked it has a fresh peach aroma and a cool minty feel. These low-tar cigarettes only have 1mg, making them easy to smoke, even for someone like me who’s not a heavy smoker. The generally light nature means that they don’t have a lot of the harsh flavors found in ordinary cigarettes, and the odor is less noticeable too. Another appeal of the Pianissimo brand is the outer design of the cigarette packs, which I think tends to be rather pretty and nicely designed, as can be seen on this Peach Mint pack and others from the same brand.

These cigarettes were initially sold only in the northeastern parts of Japan, specifically in Yamagata and Miyagi Prefectures, but in the past couple of decades, demand has led them to be sold all over Japan. Find them in Japanese convenience stores, or even in airport duty-free shops, generally priced at 570 yen (with tax, that is).

② Ark Royal Paradise Leaf Tea Flavor

Ark Royal isn’t a Japanese brand, and it’s actually not overwhelmingly popular with Japanese smokers, but that doesn’t stop a few dedicated fans from fawning over the brand’s slight sweetness and distinctive tobacco aroma. And me, I guess! For me, the Paradise Leaf Tea flavor offers the fragrance of a cup of black tea, with a touch of sweetness, and a fresh flavor without the cooling effect of menthol. The moment I opened the package, it smelled like a freshly brewed cup of black tea, and the longer I smoked the smoother they felt.

These Uruguayan cigarettes have 6mg of tar and 0.5mg of nicotine, and come 20 to a pack. They can generally be found in convenience stores, Don Quijote shops, or even tobacco specialty shops for 540 yen (tax included).

③ Kool Minty Berry Flavor

The fresh minty flavor of these cigarettes comes from mint grown in Hokkaido, and that flavor is delivered via flavor capsule. When I bit into a capsule, I really liked the burst of icy blueberry flavor I got. That rush of sweet and slightly tart flavor is the biggest draw, but I also think the little penguin on the package is pretty cute.

The cigarettes I tried come in packs of 20, with 5mg of tar and 0.3mg of nicotine. Another version of the same flavor with 8mg of tar is actually a little more widely available, and can be purchased in convenience stores for 500 yen (tax included).

④ Marlboro Fusion Blast

Image Source: Marlboro/FaSoLa Shops

The “fusion” of twin flavor capsules in these Marlboro cigarettes is what gives them their special appeal. I bit into the menthol capsule for extra refreshing coolness, then sank my teeth into both for a richer flavor. I thought it was cool that you can adjust the flavor to suit your own preferences.

These cigarettes have 5mg of tar and 0.4 mg of nicotine, and I could only find them at airport duty-free shops, where 10-pack boxes were selling for 4,370 yen (tax included).

⑤ Winston Sparkling Menthol

Image Source: Winston/FaSoLa Shops

In most of the world (everywhere outside of the US), Winston cigarettes are actually sold by Japan Tobacco Inc., and it’s a big enough brand that many locals even believe it was originally a Japanese brand (the actual origins are indeed American). Winston cigarettes are extremely popular among Japanese smokers of all kinds, and their special flavored cigarettes are a part of the popularity. This pack is actually melon and mint flavor, with a strong aroma and a smooth taste, made for smokers who like a little sweetness to their cigarettes.

The cigarettes come in 20 packs, with 5mg of tar and 0.4mg of nicotine, available at most convenience stores for 530 yen (including tax) per pack.

After singing the praises of Japanese cigarettes throughout this article, I just want to mention once again that these are my personal opinions – and I’m not recommending you start smoking just to try these cigarettes! My recommendations have all been for light cigarette options, and they might be smooth and easy to smoke, but they’re still bad for your health. Plus, of course, they’re still entirely illegal for minors! So smoke responsibly!

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