One of the best parts of your stay in Japan will be the food. Japanese cuisine is not only one of the best in the world, it is also one of the most varied kitchens with many regional specialties. Indeed, many international guests are impressed with the Japanese food scene and can’t stop raving about it! Most people enjoy the great food in Japan by eating at one of the many restaurants (did you know Tokyo is home to somewhere around 150,000 restaurants?) but how about street food? While street food is not as common as in, for example, Thailand, most larger cities in Japan do have a lively street food scene that deserves to be checked out. Let us show you the best spots to get street food in Japan!
- 1. Nakasu (Fukuoka)
- 2. Hoppy Street (Tokyo)
- 3. Tsukiji Fish Market (Tokyo)
- 4. Sunamachi (Tokyo)
- 5. Utsunomiya Yatai Yokocho (Tochigi)
- 6. Kuromon Market (Osaka)
- 7. Nishiki Market (Kyoto)
- 8. Omicho Market (Kanazawa)
- 9. Okage Yokocho (Mie)
- 10. Takayama Sanmachi Street (Gifu)
- Enjoying a range of Japanese food
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1. Nakasu (Fukuoka)
Port city Fukuoka on southern island Kyushu has one of the most iconic street food scenes in Japan. In Nakasu (中洲), the city’s infamous entertainment center, cozy ‘yatai’ food stalls open every night around 6 pm.
Locals love grabbing a bite and a drink or two in these stalls along the river side, and you’re welcome to join! Try typical yatai dishes like yakitori, oden, and tempura. If you’re a bit adventurous and like strong flavors, you can eat mentaiko as well, concentrated pollack roe. And of course, a steaming bowl of Hakata ramen should definitely be on the menu as well.
2. Hoppy Street (Tokyo)
Most tourists don’t stray far away from Asakusa’s main street Nakamise Dori. But if you do decide to go 2 blocks west you will find Hoppy Street (ホッピー通り), a street chock-full of lively small restaurants with outdoor seating and a traditional atmosphere.
Named after the light beer that is served in cheap izakaya all over Japan, you can grab some delicious but affordable bites here. Famous dishes to try in Hoppy Street are motsuni (beef tripe stew) and sashimi including some less common ones such as horse. For less adventurous eaters there are yakitori, grilled fish, and deep fried ham cutlet.
3. Tsukiji Fish Market (Tokyo)
While the famous tuna auction and wholesale market have relocated to Toyosu, Tsukiji (築地) is still very much worth a visit for foodies. The outer food market is still there, and this is still one of Tokyo’s best places to eat fresh seafood and other types of street food. A small maze of little streets, it is fun to walk around while deciding what you’re going to be having.
We wholeheartedly recommend the tamagoyaki (Japanese style fried egg), menchi-katsu (fried hamburger), grilled scallops, an eel skewer, and the fresh sea urchin for the dare devils among us. If you really want to dive into Tsukiji’s delectable food heaven, we offer food tours to discover the treasures of Tsukiji Market with an expert fellow foodie to show you the best there is.
4. Sunamachi (Tokyo)
Sometimes it is just fun to go to a spot that hasn’t been discovered yet by most tourists and get a feel of the local lifestyle. The Sunamachi Ginza (砂町銀座) is a perfect example of such a place. Situated in a quiet suburb of Tokyo, this local shopping street boasts many little food shops that have been there for generations.
It feels a bit as if time stood still here, and many of the delicacies are typical Japanese dishes. We really love the juicy yakitori, the gyoza-related shapin, unagi eel, oden, and tempura. Do you want to discover Sunamachi with a local? We offer a great food tour here as well, including a ‘kanpai’ street party!
5. Utsunomiya Yatai Yokocho (Tochigi)
Stopping by Utsunomiya on the way to Nikko – one of the most popular (day) trips from Tokyo? This city is famous for its juicy and delicious gyoza, the fried or steamed dumplings traditionally filled with flavorful meat. If you want to try these together with other types of street food, Utsunomiya Yatai Yokocho (宇都宮屋台横丁) is a very atmospheric place to do so. With more than 20 small restaurants in a small street and a convivial mood, Yatai Yokocho prides itself on serving foods and drinks that are made with locally sourced products. Make sure to taste some sake, it goes well with the food!
6. Kuromon Market (Osaka)
The city of Osaka is famed for being the street food capital of Japan. With a large street food scene offering delicious snacks you must try, Osaka is a must visit for foodies!. Food markets in Japan are always a good place to see what the locals like to eat. Because many shops also hand out food samples, you can see if you like it before you buy it. There are many shops and small restaurants in Osaka’s covered Kuromon Market (黒門市場), and it is hard to decide where to start! You should definitely come hungry, as you can devour delicacies such as takoyaki, wagyu beef, and seafood like crab, tuna, and scallops. Osaka’s slogan isn’t ‘Kuidaore’ (eat till you drop) for nothing! We offer a fun food tour in Kuromon and Dotonbori with a private option as well.
7. Nishiki Market (Kyoto)
Just like Osaka’s Kuromon Market, the Nishiki Market (錦市場) in Kyoto gives visitors a great idea of how varied the diet is in Japan’s beautiful former capital. This 400-year old market is very popular, which is no wonder with more than 130 stalls and small shops and enough variety in available dishes to make even the pickiest eater happy.
Street food that can’t be missed in Nishiki Market is yuba (tofu skin), Japanese-style croquette, Japanese-style omelet, and crunchy sesame crackers. Our Nishiki and Gion Food Tour takes you to Nishiki Market for a bunch of different local snacks and sweets before exploring the narrow streets in the famous geisha district Gion.
8. Omicho Market (Kanazawa)
Kanazawa is an interesting town on Japan’s west coast with one of the country’s most beautiful landscape gardens Kenrokuen and charming traditional town districts. One of the other highlights is the Omicho Market (近江町市場) with some of the most incredible sea food in the country!
The freshness of the kaisendon (raw seafood over rice) available here is unparalleled and you will certainly have one of your best meals in Japan here. There are also other popular street foods available such as oden, curry bread, and Kanazawa’s special gold flake sweets like the famous golden ice cream Kinpaku. Are you getting hungry already? We offer a fun Kanazawa food tour where you will visit Omicho Market and one of the traditional districts with a local food lover.
9. Okage Yokocho (Mie)
Often skipped by foreign tourists but very much worth a visit is Mie Prefecture with its pilgrimage paths in nature, Ama divers, an actual Ninja village, and the well-known Ise Grand Shrine which is the principal shrine of Shinto religion.
Near the gate of the shrine is Okage Yokocho (おかげ横丁), a lively street that is lined with food stalls catering to the many people visiting the shrine. You can get typical local snacks here like dango, seasonal fruit juices, different varieties of tofu, grilled cakes with a red bean filling and fried oysters. There are also delicious meals to enjoy like sushi, soba noodles, curry rice, and seafood over rice. Okage Yokocho is a great place for lunch before or after you visit Ise Grand Shrine!
10. Takayama Sanmachi Street (Gifu)
Sanmachi Street (さんまち通り) in Takayama is one of Japan’s most famous townscapes. This preserved town still has many wooden buildings that are more than 100 years old and strolling around here will make you feel like you’re back in the Edo Period.
You can enjoy traditional snacks here like croquettes, dango, senbei, and gohei mochi (rice cake), but center stage is taken by the local wagyu, Hida beef. You can eat the beef that melts in your mouth in different variations: as sushi, in a fluffy bun, and on a skewer. And don’t forget to pair your street food feast with a good glass of local sake!
Enjoying a range of Japanese food
No matter where your trip in Japan takes you, there is always a good spot to grab some delectable street food in the area! Japan is renowned for its high quality cuisine that will satisfy everyone’s taste buds! And if you want to get the best possible experience, booking one of our many food tours will get you exactly that. You will get the chance to taste things you normally might have not tried if you don’t know what it is, and you don’t need to worry about any language barriers. You will be surprised by the large range of different food items that are available and how good they are! Also if you have dietary requirements, having a bilingual guide by your side will be very helpful in navigating the Japanese street food scene.
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Stefanie Akkerman moved from the Netherlands to Japan in 2013 with her Japanese husband and son. She jumped into the niche of Dutch tour guiding in Tokyo and Kamakura in 2015 and occasionally writes articles about all the great sights and activities Japan has to offer. She loves (Japanese) food, and to work that all off she goes diving, snorkeling, cycling, or hiking.
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