The 16 most loved japanese street foods!

The term street food, when it comes to Japan, must be contextualised in relation to the situation.

During festivals (matsuri, お祭り) or events such as fireworks gatherings (hanabi, 花火) it is normal to find the streets and squares of the place occupied by yatai (japanese stalls, 屋台). These mini-kiosks serve various specialties prepared at the moment that people consume on the spot, wandering around the place or sitting nearby.

The uniqueness lies in having at hand a great choice of foods and an environment totally dedicated for their consumption. The price is slightly affected, but it is justifiable.

渋谷 氷川神社 お祭り
Tatsuo Yamashita su Flickr

Differently, we can also call street food those specialties that are normally served by take-away shops, and that have characteristics that favor their consumption standing up or quickly as a snack.

Here is a list of 8 savoury street foods and 8 sweet street foods that we think are the most characteristic/traditional and at the same time closer to the image of street food.

8. Ikayaki (grilled squid)

Ryan Latta su Flickr

Very simple but original, there is at least one ikayaki stand in every matsuri. Especially when grilled at the moment it enhances the flavors and the softness of the squid, easily enjoyed thanks to the skewer with which it is skewered.

7. Yakiimo (patata dolce al cartoccio)

Cookie M su Flickr

The satsuma imo sweet potato (薩摩芋) is widely used in Japanese cuisine. The baked version is found both in festivals and on the street, prepared in the traditional trucks that run around the city. If you hear a song that sings “yaaaki iimoo” around the streets during your walks, follow the sound, find the van and try it!

6. Menchi katsu (minced meat croquette)

ume-y su Flickr

The croquettes of minced meat. Sold almost everywhere, they reach their deliciousness peak when the meat filling is of high quality, such as wagyu or even Kobe beef.

5. Karaage (japanese fried chicken)

ローソンのからあげクン 銚子本醤油味
Masaki Tokutomi su Flickr

The karaage is widely consumed in restaurants while sitting at a table, but even on the street it is an excellent snack. It can be found both in festivals and around the city to take away.

4. Yakisoba (iron plate grilled noodles)

yoppy su Flickr

They are grilled noodles along with the most varied ingredients such as meat, vegetables etc. They are not as crunchy as might be expected and have nothing to do with soba. The sweetish aftertaste of the sauce with which they are usually seasoned gives them that originality that made them very popular especially among the Japanese.

3. Nikuman (meat buns)

Ōsaka - Namba: 551 Horai Namba - Buta-man
Wally Gobetz su Flickr

Steamed, fluffy outside with a meat filling inside. Traditionally made of pork, there are also versions with beef or other more imaginative fillings.

2. Yakitori (japanese chicken skewers)

Su–May su Flickr

The famous Japanese-style chicken skewers, although they are also served in restaurants, thanks to their versatility are an excellent street snack. You can find all kinds of them: from the classic chest or thigh, to the more gourmet ones (?) of livers, tail, skin…

1. Takoyaki

These sferes of batter with octopus filling and chosen toppings are one of the symbols of Japanese street food. They are found both during festival and around the city. The cooking method, which consists of turning the balls skillfully on a special plate, attracts the eye of tourists every day who obviously do not miss the opportunity to try it.

continue to the 8 sweet street foods ➔


Michele La Rosa, sommelier living in Tokyo with a passion for ukiyo-e art, kokeshi, ghibli studio films. Lover of Yokohama ramen, natto and washoku in general, his favorite beverages are the junmai dry sakè, the yuzu-shu and the barley shochu. By the way what he can't live without is, after all, the simple Asahi Super Dry.