Summer time in Japan is festival season! From parades to dances, Japanese summer festivals have it all. And one of the best things about the festivals are the food stalls that line the streets, stretching for kilometers and offering up delicious dishes and treats for everyone!
For a person going to a Japanese festival for the first time, the sheer number and variety of stalls can be a little overwhelming. To help out visitors, we conducted a survey with the locals to find out which food stalls are the best! A large-scale survey of GURUNAVI’s registered users resulted in 2000 responses from Japanese festival-goers about their favorite food stall offerings.
Top 5 Seafood BBQ- Kaisen yaki
Japan has some of the best seafood in the world, and what better way to experience it that than at a huge summer festival! Popular dishes include ikayaki, or grilled squid. Grilled squid can be served as the whole body, or (more commonly at summer festivals) one tentacle on a stick. You can also find fish and oysters being grilled right before you! Whatever may be on the grill, you can expect it to be seasoned with soy sauce to give it a delicious salty taste.
“I would only eat the entire BBQ’d squid at the festivals.” (Kanto Region / 20s / Female)
“The smell of soy sauce really stimulates the appetite!” (Kyushu Region / 50s / Male)
Top 4 Shaved Ice - Kakigori
Kakigori is the Japanese version of the shaved ice dessert! In Japan, the shaved ice is piled high inside a small bowl, covered in flavored syrup, and sweetened with condensed milk. Popular flavors include strawberry, cherry, lemon, green tea, grape, melon, "Blue Hawaii," and sweet plum. Kakigori is similar to a snow cone but has much lighter, fluffier ice, comparable to freshly fallen snow!
The traditional way to make kakigori is by placing a block of ice into a hand cranked machine, where ice-shaving blades will create the fluffy ice. Nowadays most vendors use an electric machine, but at summer festivals (especially the smaller more local ones) you can still see street vendors hand-shaving the refreshing sweet treat.
“Shaved Ice is the best way to beat the hot summer day.” (Kinki Region / 30s / Female)
“My kids will ask for shaved ice for sure!” (Kanto Region / 40s / Female)
Top 3 Fried Noodles - Yakisoba
Yakisoba is fried noodles. Although soba is buckwheat noodles, yakisoba is usually made from wheat flour noodles. This dish is made by frying ramen-style noodles with diced pork, cabbage, onions, and/or carrots, and toss it with yakisoba sauce (which is similar to oyster sauce). It can also be served with various toppings such as aonori (seaweed powder), beni shoga (shredded pickled ginger), bonito (fish flakes), and sometimes mayonnaise.
The noodles are hot and just a little crispy while still being chewy. The soy sauce it’s cooked in makes it just the perfect amount of salty. It’s also a lot of fun to slurp them up! Yakisoba is very popular among all ages, young and old!
“This is the festival food.” (Kanto Region / 20s / Female)
“My kids love them!” (Kinki Region / 30s / Female)
Top 2 Japanese Pancake - Okonomiyaki
Okonomiyaki is a savory Japanese pancake with a variety of ingredients. The name comes from the word okonomi, meaning "how you like" and yaki, meaning "grill". Okonomiyaki is usually made up of a batter which is then mixed with various ingredients including cabbage, green onions, meat, and vegetables.
At summer festivals, it's most commonly served with thinly-sliced pork and egg. The okonomiyaki booths are especially tempting because of the large grill hosting all the servings the chef is making. The sound and smell of it cooking is too much to resist!
“They go well with beer.” (Hokkaido / 60s / Male)
“It’s a filling dish, and it’s difficult to run into a bad okonomiyaki.” (Kinki Region / 20s / Female)
Top 1 Octopus Balls - Takoyaki
Takoyaki is a ball-shaped snack made of wheat-flour and filled with diced octopus and cooked in a special molded pan. It is then topped with takoyaki sauce (like Worcestershire sauce), mayonnaise, green laver (seaweed flakes), and bonito (fish flakes). Takoyaki is usually served in a set of 6 pieces which is a great deal!
“Takoyaki is easy to share with your friends and families!” (Kanto Region / 20s / Female)
“I always drink beer, so I generally look for food that goes well with it. I also eat yakitori and okonomiyaki, but because I can eat those basically every day, they seem a bit boring. That's why I eat the more festival-y takoyaki.” (Tohoku Region / 30s / Male)
The food stalls in Japan serve many unique and delicious dishes you shall try when you go to the festival. But remember. It’s not just the food that creates a great memory, it’s the whole atmosphere of the festival. Most festivals have free admission so they’re really the best way for you to have a casual day out!
[ User Survey ]
Conducted By: GURUNAVI
Target Conditions: GURUNAVI registered users (nationwide 20-60 Male/Female)
Survey method: Web questionnaire survey
Survey period: Wednesday June 14, 2017
Number of respondents: 2,000
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