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TokyoTreat’s Top 5 2021 Japanese Summer Festival Foods!

By Oliver McMahon
June 23, 2021

Summer festivals in Japan (or Natsu Matsuri) are a must-experience event, beloved by adults & children alike! Every August, Japanese shrines are covered with lanterns and fun game stalls.

There's nothing quite like the experience of passing under the shrine torii gates in a light yukata (summer kimono), then slowly walking around the shrine and taking in the lively booths, then topping it off by finishing the wonderful summer evening with beautiful fireworks!

But the best part – the Japanese festival food!

While you can get plenty of awesome Japanese treats in TokyoTreat every month, Japanese street food just hits differently!

The festival stalls show off the best street food that Japan has to offer. The sound of delicious and indulgent sweets being fried or prepared adds ambiance to the lively festival atmosphere. Japanese street food vendors will greet passing festival-goers with a friendly “Irasshaimase!” or “Welcome!”. 

Of course, right now there are still some concerns that many Japanese fireworks festivals may not take place in 2021. However, with things looking brighter every day, many people are already preparing their yukata (and their appetites) for this year!

Japanese festival food, while being slightly more expensive than you might normally expect, is still an affordable way to try a wide variety of traditional and well loved dishes all at once. The hardest part of it all is deciding what you’ll be snacking on.

So here's TokyoTreat's countdown of top picks of what to eat and drink at a quintessential Japanese summer festival!

Snack 5: Takoyaki

image via shutterstock.com

Takoyaki, or Japanese octopus balls, are a staple of the festival experience! You’ll see a line of people waiting by popular Takoyaki stands waiting to get their fix. 

They are first made by mixing okonomi batter (flour, water, egg, ginger). Once mixed, they are then put into a special pan with molded indents to create the ball shape. Finally, a small piece of octopus is carefully placed in the center and the batter is fried. 

Once made, the vendor will place some of the balls in a small tray (typically 6-8 per serving). They then are covered in Okonomiyaki sauce (a tangy and savory brown sauce), green onion, seaweed, fishy bonito flakes and mayonnaise. 

They are easy to eat and share, which makes them perfect for enjoying with friends. Takoyaki are typically served piping hot, so you’ll often see people trying to cool down after eating them. Which leads to our next festival snack…

Cool down this summer with fun takes on Japanese favorites with TokyoTreat’s Japanese snack box! You’ll experience the latest seasonal trends in Japanese flavors, delivered straight to your door!


Snack 4: Kakigori

image via shutterstock.com

Stay hydrated and refreshed with Japanese shaved ice, or Kakigori. Kakigori has a long history in Japan and is a much loved treat among generations of Japanese summer festival goers. You’ll often find it at stalls with this symbol – 氷 (which literally means 'ice').

Kakigori is made by shaving ice and flavoring it with various sweeteners, including colorful fruit-flavored syrups and condensed milk. There is no shortage of flavor combinations to try.

It's incredibly light and easy to eat. But in the Japanese summer heat, you'll need to move fast before your refreshing summer treat melts. Once your pallet has refreshed, it's time to move on to…


Snack 3: Yakisoba

image via shutterstock.com

Time for something a little salty and saucy?! Yakisoba, or Japanese fried noodles, are another must try whenever visiting a Japanese summer festival. 

Yakisoba noodles are a thin type of Japanese noodle that are combined with other ingredients such as cabbage, pork, seafood and much more. They are then coated in an addictive sour and savory Yakisoba sauce.

The best thing – no two servings of Yakisoba are the same. The maker has a chance to really put their mark on it. Try a few different samples from various summer festival stalls. 

Why not try Yakisoba for yourself? You can try various instant cup noodle versions of Yakisoba from JapanHaul! Try them and fall in love with Yakisoba.

Or try making it for yourself with this delicious and simple recipe.


Snack 2: Ramune

image via shutterstock.com

After salty Yakisoba, nothing is more refreshing than a bottle of Japanese Ramune. This Japanese lemonade is often sold from large ice buckets among the stalls to keep it refreshing. 

Not only is the classic lemon-lime flavor of this festival favorite delicious, but the glass bottle comes with an interesting opening method. Inside the iconic codd-neck bottle, you’ll find a glass marble that acts as a stopper to slow down the flow of liquid that comes out when drinking.

But don’t worry, the marble is built into the bottle so it can’t be released unless the bottle is smashed, making the drink perfectly safe, even for young children. 

You’ll find people all around the festival enjoying a chilled Ramune, perfectly paired with the next festival favorite…


Snack 1: Karaage

image via shutterstock.com

Karaage, or Japanese fried chicken, is the undisputed king of the Japanese festival snacks. Juicy, salty, savory and very addictive, Karaage has been a much loved Japanese festival favorite for decades.

Made from chicken thigh typically, they are coated in flour and deep fried, creating a crispy and delicious treat. Japanese fried chicken is a unique snack experience – made even better when combined with a soy sauce based sauce or mayonnaise topping. 

A must-try festival treat when you stop by your local shrine!

And there you have it! Our top 5 Japanese festival snacks you have to try if you’re heading to a Japanese festival this summer. If not, why not try to make them for yourself and enjoy them at home?

And if you'd rather let TokyoTreat do all the work, we’re here to help! Every month TokyoTreat brings 17 themed Japanese snacks straight to you! Check out what tasty Japanese treats are coming your way this month! 

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