Back when I wrote about the Hello Kitty regional Blendy stick a few months ago, I resigned myself to never being able to try them due to their limited distribution even though I was traveling to Japan. Imagine my surprise, then, when I ran into some at a souvenir shop that specialized in food at Tokyo Solamachi! Of course, I was utterly thrilled and proceeded to buy them immediately.
Interestingly, the only flavor this particular shop stocked was the Tochiotome Au Lait from Tochigi prefecture, which is north of Tokyo. As you can probably tell from the packaging, Tochiotome is a type of strawberry that is particularly famous in Tochigi prefecture. Though I’ve eaten my fair share of Japanese strawberries, I don’t know if I’ve ever tried the Tochiotome variety, but I can say that Japanese strawberries are some of the juiciest, most flavorful berries I’ve ever had!
Each regional Hello Kitty Blendy stick box comes with 10 individually-wrapped packets for 10 cups of strawberry au lait. I believe I paid ¥600 (more or less $6), which might be a tad pricey for this sort of instant drink, but I was happy to spend a little extra for a region-exclusive item.
According to the back of the box, there is a special monkey trainer Hello Kitty design that, if you’re lucky, you’ll find on one of the packets in the box. A quick Google search tells me that Tochigi is famous for a theme park that used to have monkey troupe performances that closed in 2013, but will have a memorial hall opening this October. Unfortunately, I wasn’t lucky enough to get the special design!
I didn’t expect the box to reveal a cutout of Hello Kitty’s face when opened! It’s products like this that really showcase the amazing attention to detail and presentation you’ll find in even the most mundane items in Japan. Limited edition packaging is certainly a surefire way to get me to buy an instant drink I would normally pass over in a shop!
Unfortunately, while the strawberry Hello Kitty adorning the box and packets is all-around adorable, the drink itself wasn’t particularly impressive. The Tochiotome strawberry flavor was definitely strong and sweet, but I don’t think strawberry au lait is really my drink of choice.
Sure, it would be great if the drink itself was as thrilling as the packaging, but I’m still very happy that I was able to try one of the regional Hello Kitty Blendy stick flavors! Though I couldn’t find a seller that ships the Tochiotome au lait internationally, there is one that stocks the Hokkaido café au lait! I may have to give that a try…