10 Japanese Food Festivals Worldwide You Should Visit

Best Japanese food festivals

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Japan is home to various food festivals that are perfect for any traveler looking to experience a new culinary adventure.

These festivals attract thousands of visitors from all over the world.

They are a great way to indulge in the varieties of Japanese dishes and learn about their culture and history.

Japanese Food Festivals Worldwide You Should Visit

Japanese food festivals feature a wide variety of food, from traditional Japanese dishes to international cuisines. 

The list below has some of the most popular and intriguing festivals that you should try to attend at least once.

1. Ramen Expo

For an authentic Japanese food experience, one of the first things you should try is the Ramen Expo Osaka festival.

Ramen Expo Osaka festival in Japan
Ramen Expo Osaka festival

Ramen is so ingrained in the country’s food culture that there’s even a museum dedicated to it.

Every December – Ramen enthusiasts worldwide flock to Expo Commemoration Park, Osaka, to get their fix on the various forms of delicious noodles.

Entry to the event is free, although you may buy tickets that can be redeemed for a bowl of ramen.

Ramen costs range from less than $1.00 to a few dollars (USD).

The expo features over 60 ramen vendors from all over Japan, each with their take on the dish.

Whether you like your ramen with a thick broth or a light one, there’s sure to be a shop at the festival that will satisfy your cravings.

Some of the most popular types of ramen to expect include:

  • Shoyu Ramen (soy sauce-based broth)
  • Shio Ramen (salt-based broth) 
  • Miso Ramen (miso-based broth)
  • Tonkotsu Ramen (pork-based broth)

If you’re feeling adventurous, the festival also features:

  • Ramen noodle-eating contest
  • Ramen cooking competition
  • ‘Mystery ramen’ booths

Several stalls also sell ramen-related products, such as ramen bowls and ramen-themed gifts.

2. Furusato Food Festival

Each region in Japan has its unique cooking style, and you’ll find that the food changes as you travel from place to place.

If your time or budget limits how far you can travel in Japan, you should attend the Furusato Food Festival held every January at Tokyo Dome.

Furusato Food Festival Japan
Grilled eel at Furusato food festival in Japan

This Tokyo festival will allow you to sample the sumptuous cuisines that Japan’s diverse cities offer in one place.

There are stalls and restaurants, each set up to represent different regions.

Here visitors can try out traditional Japanese dishes, modern fusion cuisines, and drinks from each area.

Some famous dishes to expect include:

  • Hiroshi’s famous grilled eel
  • Grilled salmon
  • Yakitori chicken skewers
  • Tempura shrimp

You can also expect a wide variety of sake, shochu, and beer and a selection of non-alcoholic drinks.

There are also several cooking demonstrations and workshops held during the festival.

Besides the Food – Visitors also learn about regional traditions and customs, such as the vibrant dancing and heroic drumming in different regions of Japan.

3. Miyajima Oyster Festival

The Miyajima Oyster Festival is held each year in February during the oyster season on the island of Miyajima, right next to the ferry port.

The festival celebrates one of Hiroshima’s biggest exports, oysters, and the different ways they can be enjoyed.

Miyajima Oyster festival in Japan
Miyajima Oyster festival

The fare lasts for three days, and attendees can participate in many other events and activities:

  • On the first day, teams of shuckers compete to see who can open most oysters in the shortest time. There is also a traditional oyster-catching competition, where participants attempt to catch as many oysters as possible with their bare hands.
  • The second day is devoted to cooking competitions, where teams of chefs compete to create the best oyster dish.
  • And on the third day, there are tastings and sales of oysters and other seafood from all over the country. 

Some of the oyster dishes you can get include those cooked with tempura, rice, and soup.

If you are not a fan of oysters, you can also opt for eel and numerous types of fish on sale.

All meals are freshly prepared and may be enjoyed for less than a dollar per dish.

4. Mochitsuki

Mochitsuki is a traditional Japanese New Year’s Eve celebration in which families gather to make mochi, (a rice cake).

Mochi is a sign of good luck and prosperity; eating it is supposed to bring good fortune in the New Year.

Mochitsuki celebration
Japanese New Year’s Eve celebration Mochitsuki

The festival is typically held in December, and participants come from around Japan to participate.

The Mochitsuki festival may be found in many Japanese neighborhoods and incorporates entertainment and other cuisine options.

During the Festival – People make mochi by pounding rice in a large mortar with a wooden mallet. It is a custom passed down through generations, and the sound of the pounding rice is supposed to be similar to waves smashing on the coast.

After the mochi is made, it is eaten with a sweet bean paste and sometimes other flavors such as matcha (green tea) or strawberries.

Mochi is also used to create a soup called Ozoni, traditionally eaten on New Year’s Day.

While mochi is the main dish, other foods such as soba noodles, sushi, and tempura are available at Mochitsuki.

Food prices vary but are generally reasonable. For example, a plate of soba noodles may cost around ¥500 (approximately $5)

5. Hokkaido Food Festival

Hokkaido is a prefecture of Japan located in the northernmost part of the country.

The region is well-known for its stunning scenery, distinct culture, and delectable cuisine.

Hokkaido Food Festival in Japan
Hokkaido Food Festival

Every year in early October, the Hokkaido Food Festival is held to highlight what the region has to offer.

Held at Yoyogi Park, this four days event is a must-attend for anyone who loves good food.

The festival features a wide range of Hokkaido-produced products, from seafood and meats to fruits and vegetables.

With over 60 booths, you’ll be spoilt for choice.

From delicious salmon roe and delectable desserts to crowd-pleasing dishes, there is something to suit your preference.

Live music and performances throughout the day make it the perfect way to spend a day with your loved ones.

Some of the foods that might be served at a Hokkaido food festival include:

  • Seafood dishes such as sushi, sashimi, and tempura
  • Ramen
  • Soba noodles
  • Dumplings
  • Stews
  • Rice dishes
  • Desserts like mochi, matcha green tea ice cream, and yuzu citrus jelly.

The festival is an excellent opportunity to try some of the best food Hokkaido has to offer, and it’s also a great way to support local businesses.

Food and drink prices during the event vary but expect to pay between $14 and $21 (¥2000-¥3000) for dinner.

6. Nikko Soba Festival

Nikko Soba Festival is one of Japan’s most popular and well-known festivals.

It is held every January in the city of Nikko in Tochigi Prefecture. The festival is a celebration of the local soba (buckwheat) noodles and the culture surrounding them. 

Nikko Soba festival in Japan
Nikko Soba festival in Tochigi Prefecture

During the festival, many stalls are set up around the city selling soba noodles.

These are served in various ways, from the traditional cold soba with dipping sauce to unique fusion dishes.

There are also a variety of other Japanese foods, including:

  • yakitori
  • tempura
  • and onigiri

Additionally, various traditional performances and other events accompany the noodles.

One of the festival’s main attractions is the soba noodle eating contest. Here participants compete to see who can eat the most soba noodles in a set period.

Other popular events include soba-making demonstrations, soba tasting, and soba-themed games and activities.

7. Takao Nabe Festival

If you’re searching for a way to warm yourself this winter, head to Takao Nabe Festival.

Held annually in November at Hibiya Park is the perfect place to enjoy a delicious bowl of nabe (Japanese hot pot).

Takao Nabe festival in Japan
Takao Nabe festival

Nabe is a Japanese dish consisting of various ingredients cooked in broth.

The ingredients typically include vegetables, meat, and seafood; the broth can be either clear or miso-based.

Nabe is the ideal winter meal since it is robust and satisfying and can be tailored to your preferences.

At the Festival – You can choose from various nabe dishes, each with its unique flavor. There is sure to be a nabe dish that will suit your taste.

In addition to nabe, the festival also offers a variety of other food and drinks, such as grilled meats, yakitori, and sake.

Food prices at the festival are typically very reasonable, with most dishes costing around 1000 yen (approximately $10).

Also, live music and other acts make it a fun and festive event.

If you find yourself in Japan during the winter, pass by the Takao Nabe Festival.

It’s a great way to try this delicious dish and experience a truly unique Japanese event.

8. Tohoku Food Marathon and Festival

Nothing beats a tasty meal after being exhausted; this is exactly what Tohoku Food Marathon offers.

The festival is held at Naganuma Futopia Park in Tome, Miyagi every April.

Every year hundreds of participants participate, including many from overseas.

Tohoku food marathon in Japan
Tohoku food marathon & festival

The marathon portion of the event is a race that takes place through the beautiful park.

Runners can choose from a variety of different courses, depending on their level of fitness. 

The race is followed by a food festival, where runners and spectators can enjoy tasting regional delicacies.

There is everything from traditional dishes like miso soup and rice balls to more unique items like grilled octopus and mountain yam tempura.

What to Expect? In addition to the food, the festival also features various cultural performances, from traditional Japanese dance and music to more modern acts.

The Tohoku Food Festival is the perfect way to experience the culture and cuisine of the Tohoku region, and it is not to be missed!

9. Sake Spring Kyoto

The Sake Spring Kyoto festival is a time-honored event that celebrates the arrival of spring in the ancient capital of Kyoto.

For three days in early April every year, the city comes alive with the sounds of traditional Japanese music, dance performance, and the scent of sake.

Sake Spring Kyoto Japan
Enjoying Sake Spring Kyoto festival

The festival takes place at the foot of the picturesque Kyoto Tower, with over 100 sake breweries represented.

During the festival, sake breweries open their doors to the public and offer tastings and tours of their facilities.

During this festival, many stalls are set up around the city selling traditional Japanese foods and drinks.

The average cost of a sake brew at the festival is $5, and the average cost of food is $10.

You get a chance to explore a wide range of sake-related merchandise on sale, from traditional wooden cups to modern sake glasses.

The festival is a great opportunity to learn about the sake brewing process and to try out different types of sake.

10. Beers Of Japan Festival

Those who thirst for beer get a chance to taste the best that Japanese brewing offers at this annual festival.

Fukuoka hosts the Beers of Japan Festival every Mid-September at Maizuru Park.

Beers Japan festival Fukuoka
Fukuoka hosts the Beers of Japan Festival

The festival features over 20 different types of beer from across the country, including:

  • Shimane Breweries Limited
  • Izushi Shiroyama Beer
  • and Iwate Kura Beer

There is also a wide variety of food available, from traditional Japanese dishes to international cuisine.

Don’t forget to pair your beer with some delicious cuisine, such as:

  • Saga beef
  • Kebabs
  • Spare ribs
  • Cubano sandwiches

The festival is an excellent opportunity to try new beers and find your new favorite.

The average beer cost at the festival is 500 yen. This is a great deal considering the quality of the beer on offer.

Final Thoughts

Japanese food festivals are a colorful and delicious way to experience the country’s diverse cuisines.

They offer a wide range of food to try and a chance to learn about the culture and history behind the food. 

These events are a great opportunity to try new foods and drinks and to meet new people.

If you want to learn Japanese culture in a fun and tasty way, go to a food festival.

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