This post is part of a series about the differences in ingredients between Japan and the U.S. When I first arrived in Japan, I had a lot of trouble at times because I wasn’t used to these differences, so hopefully this information is helpful! For the full list of posts in this series, see this page.
Nuts are definitely available in Japan, but not in as wide a variety as we found in the U.S. The most common are almonds and peanuts, but others that are easy to find include walnuts, cashews, macadamia nuts, and pistachios. There are a few “nuts” that are also commonly found, such as chestnuts, pine nuts, and ginkgo nuts.
Other nuts (hazelnuts, pecans, Brazil nuts) are difficult to find. Most Japanese people that I asked had never heard of pecans, and even when I showed them one, they couldn’t distinguish them from walnuts.
Despite being generally available, nuts are, like many baking ingredients in Japan, sold in small packages for high prices. If you like to cook with or snack on nuts, the best way is to buy them online or at places like Costco. As a comparison, if you look at the picture above, you can see a small bag of pistachios (30g / 1 oz) I bought at my local supermarket, next to the bag of almonds I bought at Costco (3 lb / 1.36 kg).
As far as usage, nuts seem to be seen as a snack food. They are sold in small bags for snacking, or used in candy.