For the second time in a year, Japan's economy has slipped into recession, but consumers' taste for upmarket noodles and pricier chocolates suggests some pockets of resilience, and some hope for 'Abenomics', the reflationary policies championed by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
Concerned about faltering growth in China and the global outlook, Japanese companies are reluctant to spend their ample cash in capital investment and wages.
But consumers content to pay a bit more for added-value products offer some counter argument to those proclaiming Abenomics' demise.
Nissin Foods Holdings added more meat and toppings to its signature Cup Noodle products earlier this year, and raised prices by 5-8 percent. Sales rose by a tenth in April-September from a year earlier.
And sales of chocolate bars priced at 250-259 yen ($2.03-$2.10) jumped by more than a third in the year to March compared with two years ago. Sales of chocolate priced at 50-99 yen rose just 1.2 percent, according to data from an industry body.
"Consumers who pay more for value-added products will underpin private consumption," said Hiroki Shimazu, senior economist at SMBC Nikko Securities.