100 of the Best Japanese Festival Food
There are many things to enjoy at Japanese matsuri (festivals), and festival food is one for sure. Many food stalls operate at all kinds of Japanese festivals, each offering something different. Some food you encounter may be unfamiliar to you, but fear not, as here is a handy list of matsuri food to help you navigate the world of festival gourmet in Japan! Some items on the list can only be found in certain regions, but no matter where you are, there will be plenty of options to choose from.
Sep 07 2018 (Jul 05 2019)
*Updated on October 4, 2018
1. Takoyaki (たこ焼き)
Takoyaki is a ball-shaped snack made from flour-based batter and octopus. They are freshly made on the spot, and you usually get a choice of toppings and sauces, with the most common options being a sticky brown sauce, mayonnaise, bonito flakes, and dried seaweed.
2. Yakisoba (焼きそば)
Yakisoba are fried noodles with ingredients such as pork, cabbage, carrots, and onions. It is seasoned with Worcestershire sauce.
3. Ikayaki (いか焼き)
Ikayaki is grilled whole squid, seasoned with soy sauce. There is another type where the squid is cooked in batter.
4. Grilled Corn on the Cob (焼きとうもろこし)
In Japan, yaki tomorokoshi (grilled corn on the cob) is usually seasoned with a soy sauce-based sauce.
5. Okonomiyaki (お好み焼き)
Okonomiyaki are savory pancakes. Various ingredients such as meat, seafood, and cabbage are mixed into a flour-based batter and grilled. It is often topped with Worcester sauce, mayonnaise, and dried green seaweed.
6. Yakitori (焼き鳥)
Yakitori refers to skewered chicken, traditionally grilled over charcoal fire. Thigh meat, breast with spring onion, and meatballs are just some of the common types of yakitori you see at festivals. They are usually flavored with either salt or a soy sauce-based sauce.
7. Candy Apple (りんご飴)
Ringo ame (candy apples) are whole apples covered in a syrup or hard candy, with a skewer inserted as a handle.
8. Cotton Candy (わたあめ)
Wata-ame (cotton candy) is super common at Japanese festivals.
9. Taiyaki (たい焼き)
Directly translated, "taiyaki" means "grilled sea bream", but this is just a sea bream-shaped cake filled with anko (sweet bean paste). They are usually made fresh, so it's still hot when you get them. You might see some other fillings, such as custard cream, matcha (powdered green tea) cream, and more.
10. Chocolate Banana (チョコバナナ)
Common at Japanese matsuri, these are bananas covered in chocolate that have been embellished just a little bit!
11. Crepe (クレープ)
Crepe is another common festival food in Japan. There are various flavors available, and you can even get fancy looking ones like the one pictured above!
12. Tokyo Croquette (東京コロッケ)
This is a skewer of bite-sized potato croquettes covered in sauce. Despite its name, it is actually from Osaka and is not seen much in Tokyo!
13. Donguri Ame (どんぐり飴)
"Donguri ame" literally translates to "acorn candy", and true to their name, they are relatively big, hard candies. At Japanese festivals, there are stalls that sell different flavors, so you can pick and mix as you want! They are more often seen in Osaka than in Tokyo.
14. Tornado Potato (トルネードポテト)
A single potato sliced to look like the above photo, tornado potatoes are deep-fried and can be eaten with ketchup or other condiments.
15. Chicken Skin Gyoza (鶏皮ぎょうざ)
These are gyoza (dumplings) made with chicken skin instead of the usual gyoza skin. They can be filled with chicken or pork, depending on the stall.
16. Nikumaki Onigiri (肉巻きおにぎり)
These are onigiri (rice balls) wrapped in niku (meat). Thin slices of pork flavored with a soy sauce-based sauce are wrapped around the balls of rice and grilled. As in the above photo, they may look more oblong rather than ball-shaped.
17. Shaved Ice (かき氷)
Some common flavors of syrup for your shaved ice (kakigori) in Japan are strawberry, matcha, melon, and blue Hawaii (not the cocktail!).
18. Karaage (唐揚げ)
Karaage are deep-fried, bite-sized chicken. These crisp and juicy chicken pieces can be found at matsuri all over the country.
19. Beef Skewers (牛串)
Gyu-kushi (skewered beef) are becoming more common at festivals all over Japan.
20. Baby Castella (ベビーカステラ)
Castella refers to Japanese sponge cake, and as the name suggests, baby castella are miniature versions of castella! They are ball-shaped, and are available at most matsuri. They're made on the spot, so they're usually warm when you get them!
21. Buttered Potato (じゃがバター)
Simple but comforting, somtimes jaga butter (steamed potatoes with butter) is just what you need.
22. Agemochi (揚げもち)
Agemochi are deep-fried mochi (pounded sticky rice cakes) that are usually flavored with soy sauce. You often find them on skewers at festivals.
23. Salt-grilled Ayu (鮎の塩焼き)
The appearance of these whole salt-grilled ayu (sweetfish) on skewers may alarm you at first, but why not step out of your comfort zone and try something new?
24. Fried Monja (揚げもんじゃ)
This is a bit of a rare one. It is monjayaki (savory pancake similar to okonomiyaki, but more runny) that has been wrapped in a thin pastry (think spring roll skin) and deep-fried. Why? Because it makes the outside deliciously crispy, while the inside remains nice and moist.
25. Candy Craft (飴細工)
A distinctly Japanese tradition of crafting candy into various shapes, ame zaiku (candy craft) at matsuri are usually shaped into things so cute that you might not want to eat them!
26. Anmaki (あん巻き)
Anmaki is made by taking sweet bean paste and wrapping it in a small pancake. You might find alternative fillings, such as chocolate.
27. Roasted Chestnuts (甘栗)
Roasted chestnuts (amaguri) can be seen at many festivals in Japan. They have a nice, sweet flavor.
28. Deep-fried Ice Cream (揚げアイス)
Ice cream covered in batter and deep-fried. What's not to like?!
29. Isobeyaki (磯辺焼き)
This is a simple snack of grilled mochi flavored with soy sauce and wrapped in nori (seaweed).
30. Ebiyaki (えび焼き)
This is the shrimp version of takoyaki that was introduced earlier. It is more commonly found in the Kansai region.
31. Omusoba (オムソバ)
If yakisoba on its own is not quite enough for you, try Omusoba. Yakisoba wrapped in egg, this is a delicious and filling matsuri food.
32. Karumeyaki (カルメ焼き)
This is a traditional Japanese sweet that is often seen at matsuri. It is made by heating water, sugar, and baking soda until crispy, and has a texture similar to meringue or honeycomb.
33. Oyaki (おやき)
Oyaki is a dumpling made from fermented buckwheat flour. Although it originated in Nagano, it can be found at matsuri in various parts of the country. The filling can be savory or sweet, so take your pick!
34. Konpeito (こんぺいとう)
Konpeito is star-shaped sugar candy that come in various colors and flavors.
35. Sata Andagi (サーターアンダギー)
These sweet, deep-fried, doughnut-like buns originate from Okinawa, but have been making an appearance at some Japanese festivals in other parts of the country recently.
36. Strawberry Daifuku (イチゴ大福)
Strawberry Daifuku, or Ichigo Daifuku, is more commonly seen at festivals in and around Kyoto than in other parts of the country, and is mochi stuffed with sweet bean paste and a strawberry.
37. Kachiwari (カチワリ)
If you are at a festival in the west of Japan, keep an eye out for these. Kachiwari is essentially a bag filled with ice and syrup. You drink the contents through a straw as the ice melts. A refreshing treat at a summer festival!
38. Pickled Whole Cucumber (きゅうりの１本漬け)
Cucumbers might not be something you expect to encounter at a food stall at a Japanese festival, but it is a surprisingly refreshing, not to mention healthy, treat during the summer.
39. Candle Boy (キャンドルボーイ)
Even some Japanese people don’t know what these are, so make sure to try them if you’re lucky enough to come across them at a Japanese festival! More common in northern Japan, Candle Boys are skewered sausages wrapped in mochi, which is then deep-fried and served with a choice of various sauces.
40. Tamasen (たません)
Keep an eye out for Tamasen if you're at a matsuri in Osaka or Nagoya. Sauce is spread on a shrimp-flavored cracker and topped with tenkasu (bits of crispy tempura coating), fried egg and mayonnaise.
41. Taiyaki Parfait (たい焼きパフェ)
Taiyaki Parfaits are commonly seen at festivals in the west of Japan, around Kyoto and Osaka. The taiyaki is filled with parfait ingredients like fresh cream, fruit and ice cream instead of the usual sweet bean paste.
42. Mini Watermelon (小玉スイカ)
Watermelon is a classic fruit of the summer season in Japan, and this is a smaller version of the regular watermelon. A rare item at Japanese festivals.
43. Ikatamayaki (いか玉焼き)
This is basically okonomiyaki where the main ingredient is squid. It is mainly seen at festivals in the Kansai Region, but is sometimes available in other parts of the country too.
44. Ebitama (えび玉)
Ebitama, also called Ebitamayaki and Ebiyaki, is like takoyaki, except with shrimp instead of octopus, and shaped like a big pancake rather than small balls. Bit of a rare item at a festival, you are more likely to find a food stall selling these at a matsuri in Hokkaido.
45. Osakayaki (大阪焼き)
Sort of like a small okonomiyaki, Osakayaki is more cake-like in texture. The name varies depending on where in Japan you are, so if you see food stalls selling Ringyaki (リング焼き), Marumaruyaki (○○焼き) or similar, it's the same thing.
46. Crispy Cheese (カリカリチーズ)
Kari-kari Cheese (crispy cheese) is cheese wrapped in gyoza or spring roll skin and deep fried.
47. Ginkgo Seeds (ぎんなん)
Ginkgo seed (pronounced "ginnan" in Japanese) is a typical food of the fall season in Japan, so keep an eye out if you are attending a festival in around that time of the year.
48. Motsuni (もつ煮)
Motsuni is offal stew, filled with tender offal and vegetables. This is a must-try item, especially if you find yourself a festival on a cool evening!
49. Sweet Potato Sticks (さつまスティック)
Sweet potato is another food of the autumn season in Japan. Sweet Potato Sticks (satsuma stick) sold by food stalls at matsuri are deep-fried and sprinkled with sugar, making it a delicious sweet snack.
50. Shiro Koro Horumon (シロコロホルモン)
Originally from Kanagawa Prefecture, this grilled offal dish is becoming more common at festivals in other parts of the country too.
51. Jelly Fry (ゼリーフライ)
Despite its name, Jelly Fry does not contain anything remotely jelly-like. It is a type of croquette made from okara (soy pulp), without any coating such as bread crumbs.
52. Churros (チュロス)
More and more churros food stalls have been popping up at festivals recently.
53. Chichibu Miso Potato (秩父みそポテト)
Originally from Chichibu, Saitama, you won't find this at most matsuri outside the prefecture, so make sure to try it if you come across it. It is skewered potato tempura, served with a sweet and spicy miso sauce.
54. Dondonyaki (どんどん焼き)
This is another rare item, and is an okonomiyaki-like pancake containing fish meat sausage, wakame (seaweed) and other ingredients, which is cooked then wrapped around a stick and coated in a sauce. It is originally from Yamagata, so you might have a better chnace finding it at a festival around that area.
55. Bakudanyaki (バクダン焼き)
Bakudanyaki is like a massive takoyaki, except instead of octopus, you can have a variety of different ingredients. The original version of Bakudanyaki contains quail eggs, sausages, clams, squid, mushrooms and more!
56. Hashimaki (はしまき)
These are not see often in the Kanto Region, and are a classic festival food of Osaka. It is basically okonomiyaki wrapped around a pair of chopsticks and covered in sauce. A handy snack to have while walking around!
57. Chilled Pineapple (冷やしパイン)
Keep an eye out for a food stall selling Chilled Pineapple on a stick, as it can be a refreshing snack in between all the other festival foods!
58. Candy Grapes (ぶどう飴)
There are various stalls selling candied fruit, with apples being the most common. Candy Grape is not often seen at festivals so grab one if you get a chance!
59. Bacon Taiyaki (ベーコンエッグたい焼き)
You might come across a stall selling Bacon Taiyaki in the Kansai Region, especially around Kyoto. Filled with bacon, egg, and sometimes even cabbage, these make a nice snack if you're a bit peckish!
60. Poppoyaki (ポッポ焼き)
A famous food of Niigata, this is a sweet bread-like cake with a brown sugar flavor. It's not available at most festivals, so make sure to buy some if you see it!
61. Mizuame (水あめ)
Mizuame literally translates to "water candy", and is a thick, sticky liquid sweetener. If you see a Mizuame stall at a Japanese festival, you will notice that what they are selling is usually fruits like apricots and mandarin orange segments covered in mizuame.
62. Warabimochi (わらび餅)
Warabimochi is a traditional Japanese sweet made from bracken starch. The jelly-like warabimochi is usually covered in kinako (roasted soybean flour). Warabimochi stalls are a bit of a rarity at festivals, but do give it a try if you see one!
63. Candy Apricot (あんず飴)
Another type of candied fruit, this one is known as "Anzuame" in Japanese.
64. Rainbow Ice Cream (レインボーアイスクリーム)
You might have a hard time finding this at most festivals, but I'm sure you'd agree that it would be a hit on your Instagram!
65. Rakugaki Senbei (らくがきせんべい)
Rakugaki is Japanese for doodling, and at Rakugaki Senbei stalls, you can design your own senbei! A fun activity, no matter how old you are!
66. Ramen Burger (ラーメンバーガー)
A burger patty and typical ramen toppings sandwiched between "buns" made from noodles, this curious Japanese festival food originated in Fukuoka.
67. Tama Konnyaku (玉こんにゃく)
Originally from Yamagata, this is skewered konnyaku stewed in a soy sauce-based soup.
68. Grilled Manju (焼きまんじゅう)
These are from Gunma, and are dumplings dipped in a miso sauce and grilled. They’re quite rare in other parts of the country, so make sure to try it if you come across it!
69. Potato Mochi (じゃがいも餅)
Made from potatoes and potato starch, potato mochi (jagaimo mochi) doesn't actually contain any mochi, but has a texture like it.
70. Hiroshimayaki (広島焼き)
This is Hiroshima's version of okonomiyaki. What makes it different is the noodles.
71. Mitarashi Dango (みたらし団子)
Made from mochi powder, Mitarashi Dango are sticky dumplings on skewers. They are covered in a sweet soy sauce glaze, and are often seen at Japanese festivals.
72. Buta Tamayaki (豚玉焼き)
Similar to okonomiyaki, this contains pork.
73. American Dog (アメリカンドッグ)
Don't let the name confuse you. American dogs are what corn dogs are called in Japan. You can often find food stalls selling them at Japanese matsuri.
74. French Dog (フレンチドッグ)
A sweet version of American dogs, French dogs are served covered in sugar. You might find them at festivals in Hokkaido.
75. Stewed Squid (煮いか)
Simmering it with soy sauce and red food coloring gives this squid dish its bright red appearance. It is a local specialty of Ibaraki, and a rare festival food.
76. Grilled Chicken Skin (鳥かわ焼き)
This is exactly what the name suggests - grilled chicken skin. A nice snack to go with your beer!
77. Tonpeiyaki (とんぺい焼き)
A common festival food in Osaka, tonpeiyaki is a cross between okonomiyaki and an omelet.
78. Guru-guru Sausage (ぐるぐるソーセージ)
"Guru-guru" means "winding around" in Japanese, and that's exactly what this is - a windy sausage!
79. Dakekimi Tempura (嶽きみ天ぷら)
Found only in Aomori, this is a tempura of a variety of corn called Dakekimi. It has a lovely sweet flavor.
80. Jumbo Oden (ジャンボおでん)
These stalls are also found primarily in Aomori. Oden is the ultimate comfort food of Japan in the winter, consisting of ingredients simmered in a light soy sauce flavored soup over a long time.
81. Sauce Senbei (ソースせんべい)
Sauce senbei is sweet senbei served with a choice of sauce. It can often be found at Japanese matsuri.
82. Spin (スピン)
This snack is not often seen at Japanese festivals anymore. They are salty snacks made from corn and other ingredients.
83. Crunchy Pasta (カリカリパスタ)
This is crunchy, fried spaghetti, usually flavored with salt and pepper.
84. Stick Waffle (スティックワッフル)
Ordinary waffle that has been given a makeover, a perfect sweet treat at a matsuri!
85. Zuwaiten (ずわい天)
This tempura of queen crab is not commonly seen at festivals. Give it a try if you happen to come across a stall selling these!
86. Sakura Stick (さくら棒)
This is an approximately 1m long sweet snack made from wheat gluten coated in melted sugar. It is given a sakura (cherry blossom) color to make it even more special!
87. Gohei Mochi (五平餅)
A local specialty of Nagano, this is pounded rice wrapped around a skewer, grilled and coated in miso. Try it if you see it at a festival in Japan!
88. Keiran Manju (鶏卵まんじゅう)
Get one of these if you're craving something sweet! Mainly seen at festivals around Hyogo, this is a traditional Japanese dessert dumpling filled with sweet bean paste.
89. Croissant Taiyaki (クロワッサンたい焼き)
Rather than using the traditional pancake batter, croissant dough is used to make these taiyaki. Fillings can vary, from the traditional anko, to custard and chocolate. A great sweet snack!
90. Kurobuta Oyaki (黒豚おやき)
Similar to oyaki introduced above, this one has a more Chinese-inspired flavor. Not commonly seen at festivals, this is definitely worth trying.
91. Kani-jiru (かに汁)
This is not often found at Japanese festivals. It's a crab soup that is flavored differently depending on what part of the country you are in.
92. Seafood Dosankoyaki (海鮮どさんこ焼き)
Originally from Hokkaido, this is like small okonomiyaki with seafood. You might find some stalls selling mixed seafood dosankoyaki, while others may have it with just scallops.
93. Seafood Kushiyaki (海鮮串焼き)
This is grilled skewered seafood. A nice option if you want a change from meat!
94. Holland-yaki (オランダ焼き)
You probably won't find a stall selling this at Japanese festivals very often. It consists of ham and mayonnaise sandwiched between sweet pancakes.
95. Omelet Frankfurter (オムレツフランク)
The top one in the above photo is omelet Frankfurter. It is, as you can probably guess, Frankfurter wrapped in an omelet.
96. Candy Strawberry (いちご飴)
Another one from Japan's repertoire of candy fruits, this is made with strawberry. The perfect treat if you're looking for something sweet!
97. Thai Ramen (タイラーメン)
If you're looking for something a little different from the regular Japanese festival food, keep an eye out for a Thai food stall where you can get your hands on a bowl of spicy and sour noodles.
98. Soft Cornet (ソフトコロネ)
For anyone with a sweet tooth, this is like soft-serve ice cream, but with bread instead of a cone.
99. Buchimgae (チヂミ)
Korean foods are becoming more and more popular at Japanese matsuri. Buchimgae is called "chijimi" in Japan. To explain simply, it is a Korean savory pancake.
100. Deep-fried Bread (揚げパン)
This is a sweet treat of deep-fried bread, usually covered in sugar. You might also see variations with cinnamon, roasted soybean flour, cocoa powder, and more!
Did that make you hungry for festival food?! Don't worry, Japanese festivals take place throughout the year, so you won't have to wait long to try all of these delicious foods. In fact, here are a couple of them that you can look out for:
Also, if you're not sure how to enjoy a Japanese matsuri, check out this handy dandy guide:
There are always many food stalls at Japanese festivals, so use this list to narrow down what you want to eat! Have fun and let us know what you get on our Facebook page!
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The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.