Popular Japanese Food by Region

August 17, 2022 6 min read

Popular Japanese Food

Japanese cuisine is renowned throughout the world for its unparalleled refined flavors offering delicious dishes, varying from one region to another. Regional cuisine, the popular Japanese culinary specialties or meibutsu are all delicious one after the other.

map Japanese regions

From Hokkaido's kaisendon to Okinawa's champuru to Kansai's okonomiyaki... Discover the iconic dishes of each region!

🦀 Popular food from Hokkaido

Located in the very north of Japan, the island of Hokkaido is well known for its gastronomy. Besides fish and ramen, other specialties are worth a try. It must be said that the local products are really exceptional in this region, offering a great agricultural diversity. The freshly caught fish and seafood are truly delicious. Moreover, the island is famous for its sheep farms and dairy products.

Hokkaido specialties

Genghis kan

This typical dish from northern Hokkaido is composed of grilled pieces of lamb with vegetables. Its name "Genghis Khan" or "jingisukan" in Japanese is directly inspired by the ruler of the Mongolian empire in the 13th century. Its particularity? The meat is cooked on a pan shaped like a Mongolian soldier's helmet.

Ishikari nabe

This specialty from Ishikari city is a Japanese hot pot fondue made with salmon. Since the Edo period, salmon fishermen have been preparing this dish in a pot with vegetables and simply miso for seasoning.

Kaisendon

The best Kaisendon can be found in Hokkaido. This is a traditional donburi (rice bowl) dish with several varieties of fresh sashimi such as fish roe, raw tuna or shrimp placed in it, depending on the season. In spring, you can enjoy snow crab, in autumn salmon, in summer sea urchins and in winter scallops.

🍲 Popular food from Tohoku

In the north-east of the archipelago, Tohoku region has a strong culinary identity due to its winter dishes, seafood, pickled vegetables and sake production. Tohoku regional cuisine is famous all over Japan.

Tohoku specialties

Gyutan

Originating from Sendai in Miyagi prefecture, this dish, based on grilled beef tongue, is a real treat. The meat is cut into thin strips and seasoned with soy sauce, sake, sesame or yuzu.

Wanko soba

Soba or buckwheat flour noodles are a favorite dish in the Iwate region since centuries. The origin of wanko soba dates back to the time of Nanbu Toshinao, nearly 400 years ago. Hanamaki city received the lord of the Morioka estate and offered him its local specialty: soba. Not knowing if he would like the dish, he was first served a small bowl. Nanbu Toshinao asked for a second and then a third bowl until he was satisfied. Since then, the tradition has been to serve wanko-soba portion by portion until the guest is full.

Jappa jiru

Aamori Prefecture in northern Tohoku is known for its excellent tuna and cod consumption, especially in winter. Jappa-jiru is a typical miso soup from the Aomori region, which uses the remains of cod such as head, guts and bones. "Jappa" means "leftovers" in the local dialect. This no-waste soup is cooked with salmon fillet as well as Chinese cabbage, spring onion (neigi) and Japanese radish (daikon).

Gyoza enban

Gyoza enban is a speciality of Fukushima cuisine. It is a set of fried pork and vegetable ravioli in the shape of a crescent. Unlike traditional Japanese gyozas, the dough of the gyoza enban is even crispier.

🍣 Popular food from Kanto

Tokyo's food is particularly tasty with its sushi, nabe and local dishes, but the other regions of Kanto also have their culinary treasures.

Kanto specialties

Udon himokawa

Have you ever heard of udon? These thick noodles much appreciated by the Japanese? Himokawa Udon is a variety of noodle with a width of up to 15 cm, served in a broth. It is a traditional dish of Gunma prefecture.

Namero

Among the local food of southern Chiba, namero is the meal of the fishermen. It is a kind of tartar composed of various fresh fishes, just seared in the fire (mackerel, horse mackerel, bonito...). It is seasoned with ginger, miso and onions.

Monja-yaki

Monjayaki is a type of okonomyaki, an omelette cake, which originated in Kanto. This specialty of Tokyo is eaten directly on the cooking plate.

Edomae sushi

If you visit the capital, don't miss out on the famous Edo Bay sushi, which has crossed international borders.

🦗 Popular food from Chubu

Located between Kanto and Kansai, the Chubu region occupies a central position on the island of Honshu. If the territory offers exceptional mountainous landscapes such as the Japanese Alps and Mount Fuji, the regional cuisine of Chubu is just as remarkable.

Chubu specialties

Katsudon

This dish, originating from Fukui, consists of breaded and fried pork slices, cooked with an egg and placed on a bowl of rice.

Inago no tsukudani

One of the regional specialties of Chubu consists of rice crickets cooked in a sauce based on soy and mirin (tsukudani style). Originally, this Japanese dish was used in case of famine in the mountainous regions of Nagano and Fukushima. Today, it is appreciated by the population and adventurous tourists for its nutty taste.

Hitsumabushi

Specialty of Nagoya in Aichi prefecture, hitsumabushi is a kind of unadon (dish of grilled eel and rice). Its particularity lies in the way it is eaten: au naturel, sprinkled with wasabi and other condiments, or with rice soaked in broth (or green tea).

🐙 Popular food from Kansai

In the heart of Honshu Island, Kansai cuisine is famous for its fine dishes as well as its street food. The regional cuisine offers many delicious dishes for locals and tourists to enjoy.

Kansai Specialties

Okonomiyaki

This local dish from Osaka is a kind of Japanese patty that is cooked on a teppan (griddle). The dough is made of flour, dashi broth and Japanese yam to which eggs, tenkasu (tempura balls), pork belly and other ingredients are added. Once cooked, the pancake is covered with sauce, nori seaweed and katsuobushi (dried bonito shavings).

Takoyaki

These small dumplings filled with octopus are one of the most popular dishes of Japanese street food. It is a culinary specialty from Osaka and is often served at yatai (street stalls) during traditional festivals.

Kitsune udon

The favorite food of the Kitsune (messenger of the goddess Inari), fox noodles are a vegetarian dish made of udon and fried tofu, served in a broth.

Kaiseki ryōri (Kyoto)

As a local specialty of Kyoto, kaiseki ryōri is the meal offered in ryokans (traditional Japanese inns). It consists of several small dishes being served at the same time on the table. Kaiseki cuisine is local and seasonal with different types of cooking and a very careful presentation.

🍜 Popular food from Chugoku

The Chugoku region in southwestern Honshu, known for its history, has a very rich and diverse gastronomy.

Chugoku specialties

Dote nabe 

This is a very famous local winter dish of Hiroshima. It is a stew composed of oysters and vegetables such as Chinese cabbage and tofu cooked in a miso broth.

Izumo soba

Specialty of Izumo city (Shimane prefecture), Izumo soba are dark noodles made of buckwheat flour. Their particularity lies in the fact that the whole seed is used for making the flour. This dish already existed in Edo period to fight famine.

Kibi dango

These are Japanese pastries in the shape of balls, made with rice dough and millet flour. In the past, Kibi dango were offered at Kibitsuhiko jinja shrine in Okayama.

🐟 Popular food from Shikoku

In the south of the Japanese archipelago, between the Pacific Ocean and the Inland Sea, Shikoku Island is best known for its great pilgrimage and festivals. However, local specialties such as tuna tataki, Kagawa udon or Kochi beef are very much appreciated in the region.

Shikoku specialties

Sanuki udon

In Kagawa regional cuisine, sanuki udon is a very fresh dish of noodles served with tuna and seaweed.

Katsuo no tataki 

Tataki is a Shikoku-specific cooking method that grills food on the outside while keeping it raw on the inside. Katsuo noTataki is a piece of bonito that is grilled and then cut into strips.

Sudachi

Sudachi is a type of lime that is grown in the northeast of Shikoku Island in the Tokushima region. This citrus fruit has a strong taste and is a great accompaniment to many Japanese dishes such as soba, fish, or meat, and goes well with soy sauce.

🥒 Popular food from Kyushu et Okinawa

In the south of Japan, the island region of Kyushu and the island of Okinawa have many culinary specialties closely related to their culture. Fruit trees, shiitake, vegetables, meat and seafood, the local products are particularly varied!

Kyushu and Okinawa specialties

Hakata ramen

In Fukuoka prefecture, Hakata ramen is a very famous dish and the pride of the local people. It is a noodle soup soaked in a pork bone broth.

Champon 

A dish originating from Nagasaki cuisine dating back to the Meiji period: a noodle broth with pork, vegetables and fried seafood.

Goya champuru

Okinawa Island is famous for its centenarians, its relaxed way of life and its healthy and tasty cuisine. Among the typical dishes of the region, champuru is a mixture of tofu, vegetables and pork, served with rice and a touch of sauce. There are many variations of this dish. In Okinawa, champuru is often made with bitter cucumber (goya). This stir-fry dish is truly surprising!

In Japan, each region has its own culinary specialties. How about you, which one would you like to try?


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