Guest writer: Urusai_Uni#0007
With summer right around the corner, that means the summer festival season is coming up! While there’s many different types of festivals, there’s usually at least a couple of similarities across the board no matter which one you go to, or where it is! One of those similarities is the food! In this article, I’ll be telling you about a handful of common (and delicious!) festival foods that are common across the country.
Yakisoba is fairly common across the world, not just in Japan! Literally meaning “fried buckwheat noodles”, yakisoba is a stir-fry like dish using ramen-style wheat noodles, assorted vegetables and meat such as pork. It’s easy to prepare and package, so you’ll commonly see it either pre-made, or even made on the spot on grills.
Yakitori and Ikayaki
Ikayaki and yakitori are exactly what the name implies. They’re skewered chicken and squid that are grilled! This makes them easy to hold onto and carry. Ikayaki is typically only seasoned with soy sauce while yakitori can come in either a savory or a salty-sweet variety.
One of the most recognizable festival foods is definitely takoyaki! Takoyaki are small dumpling like balls with a piece of octopus on the inside. They’re made in special round molds and are typically topped with takoyaki sauce and mayonnaise. Like yakisoba, takoyaki is sold pre-made or made on the spot!
A “Japanese pizza”, or okonomiyaki, can come in two styles; Kansai and Hiroshima. On my trip to Japan in 2019, I came across okonomiyaki at every festival I went to and they consistently contained squid or octopus and ramen noodles! You can read more about (learn how to make!) okonomiyaki in this article here.
Although less popular than they were, taiyaki are still a fun and interesting festival treat. Basically a cake filled with red bean paste, taiyaki are shaped like “tai” or sea bream! They’re fun as well as easy to hold onto as you eat. Other variant fillings include custard, chocolate and green tea paste.
No festival experience is complete without kakigōri! Kakigōri is flavored shaved ice, like a snow cone! It can come in a variety of flavors such as melon, strawberry, peach, cherry and lime, and is often sweetened with condensed milk poured over top of it.
While not a food, ramune are very easy to find and are fun nonetheless! Ramune is a popular type of soda that comes in a glass bottle sealed with a marble. Originally coming in lemon-lime flavor, ramune comes in a variety of different flavors, some of the most popular being lychee, strawberry, grape and melon!
While all around an incredible experience, the food definitely is part of the fun when attending a summer festival. There’s not much better than sitting down to watch fireworks on a warm summer night with a container of yakisoba and a bottle of ramune! When planning your Japan trip, whether your first or your fiftieth, I hope you found something on this list you’ll be on the lookout to try!