There are many traditional Japanese foods that you can find at festivals. Check out our article for the 20 best Japanese festival foods.
A Japanese festival is one of the best ways to enjoy Japan. They have ties to old Japanese traditions, and each one celebrates a different part of Japanese culture. You can see games that have been played for hundreds of years, clothing that you can only find in Japan, and best of all, the Japanese festival food.
Japanese festival food has deep ties to the old culture of Japan and showcases the different ways that cooking has changed. There are many kinds of foods to choose from and some lists can go into the triple digits. For this list, we will look at 20 of the best Japanese festival foods. Remember this is not a comprehensive list and some things that you will see at the festivals may not be here. These are the main foods you will find in Japan and even some that you will find in other countries as well.
Takoyaki is a traditional Japanese festival food that is popular outside of festivals as well. It is a tasty treat that comes in different flavors and fixings. It is typically made from batter and pieces of octopus cooked on a special grill with round holes in it. The result is balls of breading and meat that come topped with mayonnaise, onions, cheese, and other tasty things. These can be found at any festival or event in Japan and you should try them at each one you attend. Each region has its own special variation.
Taiyaki is made from a kind of pancake batter that is grilled in the shape of fish. The filling is traditionally sweet red bean paste but it has been expanded to custard, chocolate, and sometimes jelly. These are famous festival sweets and are best when eaten fresh. They come in other shapes and many businesses have their own taiyaki. Famous ones include pokemon, sega, and various anime characters. There are seasonal taiyaki too, and it is another popular treat that can be eaten outside of festivals.
Yakisoba can be found at any festival in Japan. It is synonymous with Japanese festival food. It is most popular during the summer festivals and is easy to make and eat. Even though you will find vendors around japan that sell it in small food trucks, the festival versions are the best. It is made by grilling soba noodles with vegetables, meat, and soy sauce. There different kinds of yakisoba and some regions have variations that can only be eaten there. The most popular variation is the one from Osaka. It is a Japanese festival food that you should eat to get the feel of old Japan.
Okonomiyaki is best described as a vegetable pancake consisting of eggs, vegetables, meat, fish, and other ingredients. It is cooked on a grilled and it can be prepared in different ways. The real fun comes from cooking it yourself. It is fun to mix the food yourself and even have some of the locals show you how to cook it correctly. Hiroshima is famous for having a variation of this that includes soba noodles. It is another traditional Japanese festival food that can help you experience traditional Japan.
Yakitori Is a typical festival food in that it follows a simple rule of being able to be eaten while walking. Japanese culture usually frowns upon eating while walking but it is ok to do it at festivals. Yakitori translates to grilled chicken and it can be prepared in a variety of ways with different sauces to complement the flavors. They sell these at every convenience store as well.
Yakiniku is the same as yakitori, except it uses meat. They use different cuts of meat and different kinds of vegetables to create great flavor combinations. These can be found at convenience stores as well.
7. Chocolate Banana
Chocolate bananas are at every festival and event. It is a whole banana covered in chocolate and decorated with sprinkles. They are great walking-around treats during festival times.
8. Nikumaki Onigiri
Nikumaki onigiri is meat or fish wrapped in rice and then pan-fried. They are a delicious treat to eat while watching festival activities. These usually draw a large crowd so you should try to get them when you can.
9. Shaved Ice
This summer treat is well known around the world and helps to combat the heat. They use different flavors of fruit syrup and juice on large portions of ice. They have special versions that come topped with various fruits and sweets as well.
Karaage translates to fried chicken and it is a staple Japanese festival food. You usually get them in a container that holds six pieces of chicken. It’s usually made from dark meat and can be topped with various vegetables and sauces.
11. Buttered Potato
This treat also goes by the name “jagabata.” It is a large potato that comes with a healthy dollop of butter and sometimes comes with sour cream and other typical potato toppings. Many people love getting the larger than normal potatoes during a festival.
12. Age Mochi
Age mochi are deep-fried mochi balls that usually come covered in sauce. They aren’t sweet and offer a savory taste to go with the sticky mochi rice. They are a standard Japanese festival food.
13. Grilled Ayu
Many people have seen this food displayed in movies, anime, and other kinds of Japanese advertising. It is whole salted fish on a stick that is cooked over hot coals. You can find them at traditional festivals and you should eat the whole fish.
14. Fried Monja
It is close to okonomiyaki in that it uses a mix of wet ingredients that are grilled together.
It is a traditional sweet treat that is a pancake that is wrapped around sweet red bean paste. It is similar to taiyaki and also comes in a variety of flavors.
This is pan-fried mochi that is topped with various sauces. It is usually wrapped in seaweed and is served at most festivals.
17. Strawberry Daifuku
This traditional sweet is only available during certain times of the year. It is a mochi ball that is wrapped around sweet red bean paste with a strawberry put on top of it.
This is a typical summer food and is a traditional Japanese fruit to eat during that time. It is traditionally broken in half with a stick and eaten afterward.
Also known as bracken mochi, this is another treat that uses mochi rice. The main difference is that it is covered in sweet soybean powder. It usually comes with sauce to dip it in.
20. Grilled Manju
This Japanese festival food is made by grilling dough and adding sauce on top. It is another traditional food that is found in convenience stores as well as festivals.
This is just a small list of the large amount of choices you can eat at festivals in Japan. Try as much of it as you can to improve your Japanese experience!