What to Eat in Japan: Ultimate Guide to Japanese Local Food on Each Location

What to eat in Japan Food & Drinks

What Japanese food do you know? Sushi, ramen, perhaps tempura? But you know there are more foods you should try while you are in Japan, especially the foods you can only eat in Japan.
Japan can be divided by 8 regions and each region has speciality food. We would like you to try local Japanese food in the region as much as possible. Here we introduce the list of what to eat in Japan and our recommended places to eat. Hope it helps you find good local foods!



If you are in Hokkaido, seafood is the thing you must eat! Hokkaido is the largest source of seafood in Japan and you can enjoy the fresh seafood like salmon, crabs, shrimps and so on every day.

Kaisen-don (Sushi bowl)

Try Kaisen-don Sushi bowl at the Fish Market in Sapporo, which is a full of seasonal seafoods on top of the rice just caught in the morning. If you want to try something different from your home, we recommend you also to have sea urchin bowl or Ikura salmon roe bowl!

Where to eat: Kitano Gourmet Tei

Open 7am – 3pm every day

Ishikari nabe (Miso based hot pot with salmon and vegetables)

Ishikari nabe is a hot pot which cooks salmon and vegetables like cabbage, Japanese radish, onions etc. with the stock of miso and kelp. Sometimes butter or milk will be added to make it thick taste. Ishikari city in Hokkaido is famous for their salmon catch in autumn and Ishikari nabe was originally a fishermen’s dish during the fishing invented to enjoy every part of salmons they caught.

Where to eat: Nakamura

Open 5pm – 11pm
Closed on Sunday, National holidays, the day before national holidays
*Ishikari nabe is available during winter time

Genghis Khan (Japanese style mutton)

Genghis Khan is Japanese style mutton cooked on the unique shaped pod with some vegetables. In Hokkaido, they cook with the sweetened sauce using apple and onion which takes away the strong smell of mutton.

Photo by Jun OHWADA

Where to eat: Daruma

Open 5pm – 3am

Miso ramen

If you ask Japanese people about what to eat in Hokkaido, many people would say miso ramen. Some of the popular miso ramen restaurants add corns and butter to the ramen and it tastes delicious! Hokkaido is well known as its high quality dairy products so try miso butter ramen when you are there.

Where to eat: Keyaki

Open 10.30am – 3am every day

Tohoku Area

Morioka reimen/ Iwate

Originally reimen comes from North Korea and was introduced to Morioka in 1950s. Reimen noodle is made from wheat flour and starch which makes it chewy compared with udon or ramen. This beef based cold soup with spicy kimchi on top is a great combination especially for a hot summer in Japan.

Where to eat: Pyon Pyon Sha

Open 11am – 12pm every day

Kiritampo nabe/ Akita

This is Akita style hot pot with mashed cooked rice called kiritampo, often the soup is made from chicken and soy sauce. It is a popular dish during the winter and this will warm you up well in the cold weather in Akita.

Where to eat: Akita Kiritampo Ya

Open 4pm – 1am (Monday-Saturday) , 11.30am -1am (Sunday)

Beef tongue/ Miyagi

Sendai is the birthplace of beef tongue cuisine, it started from one small restaurant after the war. You should try some beef tongues cooked over the charcoal and seasoned with salt once you visit Miyagi.


Where to eat: Aji Tasuke

Open 11.30 am – 9pm
Closed on Tuesdays

Wanko soba/ Iwate

Wanko soba will be quite an experience for you. It is originally from Iwate prefecture and it is all you can eat style soba serving with small bowls. Once you finish it, servers will fill out your bowl instantly with encouraging chants. It is fun to count how many bowls you finished in the end. Top records are over 500 bowls of soba. You can break the record when you are in the area!

Where to eat: Azumaya

Open 11am – 3pm, 5pm – 8pm every day

Kanto Area

Monja/ Tokyo

Monja or Monjayaki, Japanese style pan fried batter, is the most popular local food in Tokyo. It looks strange at first but the taste is good and you can enjoy the process of making it as well. It’s often compared with Okonomiyaki in Kansai region but Monja is more runny and looks like a melted cheese.

Where to eat: Monja Kura

Open 11am – 11pm every day except New Years

Gyoza/ Tochigi

Utsunomiya in Tochigi is the best place to try Japanese fried Gyoza dumplings.
There are so many Gyoza restaurants around the area and some of them have only Gyoza on their menu. We recommend you to stop by a couple of different restaurants and try serval different tastes and shapes of Gyoza when you are in Utsunomiya.

Where to eat: Utsunomiya Kirasse

Open 11am – 9.30pm (weekdays), 11am – 9pm (weekends & holidays)

Fukagawa meshi/ Tokyo

Fukagawa meshi is seasoned rice cooked with clams and it is known as Tokyo‘s local food. During the Edo period (1603-1868), Fukagawa area in Tokyo used to have wide spreading mudflats and people could catch many clams and shellfishes. Therefore, Fukagawa meshi is originated from fishermen’s dish but is loved by locals today.

Tokyo local food

Where to eat: Fukagawajuku

Open 11.30am – 3pm, 5pm – 9pm (weekdays), 11.30 – 5pm (weekends & holidays)

Chubu Area

Hoto/ Yamanashi

Hoto is miso based soup with flat noodle, often cooked with some vegetables such as pumpkins, carrots and green onions originated in Yamanashi. The noodle is similar to udon but prepared differently. It prepared more like dumplings which makes it soaked in the soup and mixed very well with other ingredients.

Where to eat: Hoto Fuji no Chaya

Open 11.30am – 8pm
Closed 2nd Tuesdays & every Wednesday

Tare katsu/ Niigata

One of the most popular Japanese foods among the travelers would be Katsudon (Rice bowl with pork cutlet). But in Niigata, they serve it differently. Tarekatsu is seasoned by special sauce based on soy sauce instead of the outhodox style with egg. It is simple yet delicious, we recommend you to try this in Niigata!

Where to eat: Tonkatsu Taro

Open 11.30am 2.30pm, 5pm – 8pm
Closed 3rd Wednesdays & Thursdays

Hitsumabushi/ Aichi

Hitsumabushi is a rice bowl with grilled eel on top which is popular dish in Aichi prefecture. There are three ways to enjoy it. 1) Eat as it is 2) Add Wasabi and some spices on 3) Add dashi soup in the end to complete the meal! You can change the taste by doing so and you will never get tired of it.

Where to eat : Atsuta Hourai Ken

Open 11.30 – 2pm, 4.30pm – 8.30pm
Closed on Wednesdays & second and fourth Thursday of the month

Kansai Area

Takoyaki/ Osaka & Akashiyaki/ Hyogo

Osaka is known as Kuidaore town which means “eat until you drop”. Many people might know Takoyaki already but it is a ball shaped Japanese light meal made of flour based batter containing pieces of octopus. On the other hand, Akashiyaki which is originated from Hyogo is made from egg batter containing octopus and dip in dashi before you eat them. It will be fun to compare the difference of the taste in both prefectures!

Where to eat: Takoyaki Wanaka

Open 10am – 11pm (weekday), 8.30 – 11pm (weekends & public holidays)

Where to eat: Yoshikawa

Open 10am – 6pm (weekdays), 10am – 7pm (weekend & public holidays)
Close Thursdays

Okonomiyaki/ Osaka

Okonomiyaki is often described as Japanese savory pancake containing various ingredients such as pork, cabbage or sometimes seafoods in wheat flour based batter.
You can make it by yourself or staff will make it for you right in front of you at the restaurant!

Where to eat: Okonomiyaki Kiji

Open 11.30am – 9.30pm
Closed on Sundays

Kobe Beef/ Hyogo

Kobe beef is one of the best quality wagyu beef which is from Tajima island in Hyogo and raised strictly according to the rules. Kobe beef is known as the most expensive beef in the world but there are affordable options too. Enjoy their flavor and tenderness which will melt in your month instantly!

Where to eat : Mouriya

Open 11am – 10pm every day

Obanzai/ Kyoto

Obanzai is Kyoto style home cooking using the local and seasonal ingredients. It consists of some small plates. The taste is quite simple but prepared elaborately.
If you want to taste Kyoto to the fullest, this is your must-try.

Where to eat: Osen

Open 5pm – 11pm every day

Chugoku Area

Crab/ Tottori

Tottori is known as their desert land but it is facing the ocean and has the largest catch of crabs. Snow crab called Matsuba Crab caught in Sakaiminato in Tottori is considered the best with its elegant flavor. You can eat them during the winter time, so don’t miss the chance if you are in the area around the right time!

Where to eat: Kaniyoshi (Michelin 2 stars restaurant)

Open 5pm – 10pm every day

Oyster/ Hiroshima

Hiroshima has the largest production of oysters and it is oyster paradise!
You can get grilled oysters or raw oysters on the street stalls or you can dine in and enjoy flavorful oysters to your heart’s contents.

Where to eat: Ekohiiki

Open 11.30am – 2pm, 5pm – 11pm
Closed on Mondays

Demi-glace sauce katsudon/ Okayama

Demi-glace sauce katsudon or demikatsudon is a rice bowl with pork cutlet and demi-glace sauce on top. Each restaurant has the different receipt to make demi-glace sauce so if you like it, it is fun to comapre with other restaurants and find your best!

Photo by kagawa_ymg

Where to eat: Ajitsukasa Nomura

Open 11am – 2.30pm, 5.30pm – 9pm
Closed on Mondays

Shikoku Area

Udon/ Kagawa

Kagawa is called “Udon prefecture” in Japan. Many people travel all the way to Kagawa just to eat udon. Fan fact is, you can even get udon broth from the tap at Takamatsu airport! We recommend you to try some diffrent udon when you are in Kagawa and taste the pride of udon prefecture.

Where to eat: Waraya

Open 10am – 7pm (weekdays in May-November), 10am – 6.30pm (weekdays December-April), 9am – 7pm (weekends)

Iya soba/ Tokushima

Iya soba is a short and thick soba which is known as local food in the hidden place Iya in Tokushima. Iya is surrownded by the mountains where you can find the old traditioanl houses built over 300 years ago. If you like unexplored area and nature, this is the place to visit and try Iya soba!

Where to eat: Momiji-tei

Open 11am – 5pm
Closed on Wednesday

Taimeshi/ Ehime

Ehime has the largest catch of red snappers in Japan. Taimeshi is a rice bowl with red snapper but in Ehime, there are two different types- Matsuyama style and Uwajima style. Matsuyama style is a cooked rice mixed with grilled red snappers seasoning with dashi but on the other hand, Uwajima style uses raw red snappers and eat with egg and soy based sauce on top of the rice.

Where to eat: Goshiki

Open 11am – 3pm, 5pm – 11pm every day

Kyushu Area

Sasebo burger/ Nagasaki

Sasebo burger is the popular local food in Sasebo city in Nagasaki. There is no specific definition of Sasebo burger but if the burgers are made in Sasebo, hand-made and make them after the order, it will make them Sasebo burger! In fact, each shop has original and unique hand-made Sasebo burger. It is a good idea to try different Sasebo burger during your stay!

photo by ©SASEBO

Where to eat: LOG KIT Sasebo

Open 10am – 9pm (weekdays), 10am – 8pm (weekends)

Shishirian rice/ Saga

Popular local food in Saga, also being loved as home cooking by the locals, Shishirian rice is flavored beef with tomatos and lettuce on top of rice. You can try Shishirian rice at about 40 restaurants in Saga city.

Where to eat: Cafe Ariyume

Open 8am – 5pm (weekdays), 8.30am – 5pm (Saturdays)
Closed on Sundays and public holidays

Champon/ Nagasaki

Champon noodle is thick noodle with some ingredients such as vegetables, seafood and fish cake kamaboko. It is widely available all over Japan today but if you are in Nagasaki, try the authentic one at the home of champon!

Where to eat: Shikairo

Open 11.30am – 3pm, 5pm – 9pm

Tonkotsu ramen/ Fukuoka

Tonkotsu ramen, creamy rich soup made of pork bones is now one of the most popular ramen in Japan but it is originally from Fukuoka. If you visit Fukuoka, tonkotsu ramen aka Hakata ramen is must-try!

Where to eat: Ikkousha

Open 11am – 12pm (Monday-Saturday), 11am – 9pm (Sunday)

Our recommended tours for all the foodies

If you are a foodie and interested in Japanese food, we recommend you to take our Food and Drink Tours! You can choose from Fish Market tours, Sushi Making Tours, Bar Hopping Tours etc.
Check out our wonderful tours with knowledgeable local guide.

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Happy traveling!

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