Japan is a country that boasts a rich array of street food and culture, beholding hundreds of thousands of festivals each year. Be drawn into the bright lights and intriguing nature of the sweet and savory snacks that this colorful country has to offer. Explore new and exciting flavors and spices that Japan is so synonymous for. The Japanese street food vendors are known as ‘yatai’ who often follow a circuit of food events across the country, sharing their gorgeous offerings amongst those who adore them. If you stumble across a Japanese food stand, you will undoubtedly taste something like you never have before, just because each stall differs from one another, and tastes nothing like as it does in a restaurant, even if you order the same dish! Here is a list of Japan’s most colorful, unique and flavorsome dishes that you’ll find truly hard to resist.
This sumptuously eggy dish derives from being cooked on natural open hot springs, giving it the time to form a custard-like substance, that pairs impeccably well with soy sauce.
This sweet style treat is uniquely spectacular Japanese street food. They serve it in the shape of a fish, and can we filled with whatever you decided; most popular fillings include cheese, chocolate, or sugar.
The Japanese answer for cotton candy. It is creatively packaged through bright, bold colors, decorated with faces of famous cartoon characters.
Okonomiyaki is savory Japanese pancakes that they fill with anything from eggs, cheese or bacon. They were initially designed to use up any leftovers from home to prevent waste.
Japanese sponge cakes that are absolutely teeny tiny bite size versions of its original, much larger Portuguese cake.
Gyoza is a deep fried dumpling that finds its origin in China but is hugely popular within the Japanese street food culture. They are filled with pork, cabbage, chives and green onions, often complimented with lashings of soy sauce.
These are an absolute Japanese street food essential, as they are easy to eat on the go, and are super delicious. Though they do not originate from Japan, they are given that native twist, with added ingredients, such as teriyaki sauce or azuki beans to give it a new lease of life.
We all have an idea of what sweet potatoes taste like, but in Japan, they are literally sweet sugary potatoes. This uniquely prepared sweet sensation is often served in autumn to winter time, with oodles of syrup and sesame seeds to top it off.
This is the Japanese equivalent of a toffee apple, except with strawberries instead of apples! They are served on sticks and smothered lusciously in sugar and syrups; delicious!
This is a lemon and lime flavored soft drink that is bottled uniquely, with a marble placed at the top. It is synonymous to any Japanese street food festival.
Photo by: Jim Epler
These are Japanese rice crackers that can be served either sweet or savory. The town of Nara actually creates Senbei not for human food, but specifically for tourists to feed its vast deer population!
Kakigori is literally Japanese for shaved ice; it is finished and served with bright and colorful flavored syrups and condensed milk.
These are sweet potatoes that are cooked over a wood fire, that is fitted into old style trucks that drive around serving them to those who adore them. This is a part of Japan’s heritage and is slowly being made history due to less and less demand.
These thick style pancakes are bursting with immense flavor, generally of red bean paste, meats or curry. However, on your adventure to Japan, don’t be alarmed if you cannot find this delightful delicacy. Imagawayaki has over 20 different names depending on where you are in Japan!
Japanese curry rice
Japan boasts medium spiced curries, especially those that are similar to somewhat mild gravy. It is a typical dish for the Japanese and is in fact considered to be part of their staple diet. The Japanese consume this curry rice at least a handful of nights in a week.
Takoyaki is an octopus-based dish, with complimentary side flavors of mayonnaise and ginger pickles, rolled into thick pancake based balls. They are then topped with fermented fish flakes, and ready to go!
Oden is a wintry style Japanese dish that consists of meat, fish, and vegetables. They stew the dish over a super long period of time, to release the flavors. They are also a must have for any Japanese street food scene.
And finally, there we have it! Of course, there are plenty more delectable Japanese dishes that you can discover on the city streets. But these are just some of the most recognizable, and those that Japan prides themselves in. The food they boast isn’t just food, but an accurate representation of the country’s rich history. It is also a representation of how their culture has developed and grown over the decades. Thus, if you are in Japan and fancy a spot of street food, prepare to be utterly blown away by what you can find in some of these stalls, and what some street vendors have to offer. It’s culture like you’ve never experienced before. And it’s also a culture that you will only ever find in the heart of the beautiful country of Japan.