Japan involves lots and lots of walking around. And inevitably when you reach the point that you could really use a snack and a sit down, you're either in the post 3pm lull, or in ramen bar land. You need something else. Perhaps a quick sugar hit? Meet your friend Mister Donut.
The American chain, also known as ミスタードーナツ or Misutā Dōnatsu, first opened in Osaka in 1971. Outside of Japan, the brand has something of a twisty history with naming rights in different territories changing hands back and forth, and often ceding control to US competitor Dunkin' Donuts. Now there's just one remaining US store, but there are over 1,300 outlets healthily dotted across Japan.
As the name strongly suggests, you'll find all manner of delicious donuts inside. But you'll also find light meals (as long as you want cheese to feature), hot and cold coffee and chocolately drinks, and cold drinks. The Mister Donut menu is constantly changing (don't worry, all the staples remain).
Now, Japan has all kinds of fancy donuts, which for the purposes of this article, will be called doughnuts. Top of the fancy options list is Hara Donuts, which are made from okara (soybean pulp) and soy milk from the Nara-based Hara Tofu Shop. Another strong option is Floresta Nature Donuts which offers another healthy spin on doughnuts, with different animal shapes and something called the Omega Donut Rusk.
The outlets for these shops are all super cute, but maybe don't have the same degree of anonymous welcome for the weary traveller. See, with Mister Donut, you're not just there for the carbs. Like a better alternative to Starbucks, you're there to take a break for a half hour. And if you're like Chris, you make this time count.
The best donut, no competition, is the Pon de Ring. Because it's the best donut, it has a mascot, the majestic Pon de Lion. The texture makes this product the standout- it's called mochi mochi, which roughly means soft and sticky, which is something of a slogan for Mister Donut.
The plain varieties, dusted with sugar and cinnamon, or lightly frosted are the best, but you can get elaborate forms. Expect to pay around ¥140 but you'll generally find varieties on special for ¥100. Don't be fooled by the imitations you might see at 7/11, you won't find the Pon de Ring in a konbini.
Enjoy some not-at-all-terrifying TV ads for Mister Donut:
And some mascot love: