Japan’s Top 10 Food Festivals

Festivals In Japan 

Festivals, or matsuri as they’re called in Japanese, are special events in Japan. Several of them are held throughout the country many times throughout the year.

Festivals can range from a day to over a week and are celebrated for many different occasions. 

Festivals may have a spiritual or religious significance, they may be related to important events in Japanese history, or they might celebrate a specific aspect of Japanese culture.

One of Many Food Festivals In Japan

Festivals are also held for fun, including many of the food and drink festivals that can be enjoyed in Japan. 

Festivals are a wonderful way to get yourself truly immersed in Japanese culture and learn about the experience of locals through speaking with people, enjoying their food, and seeing how they celebrate. 

Ramen Expo In Osaka

Ramen is perhaps one of the first things that come to mind when thinking about Japanese food, so it’s no surprise that there’s a festival in its honor.

In December, the Ramen Expo is held in Banpakukoen Expo Commemoration Park in Osaka. The specific dates of the festival can vary, but it’s usually held over two days. 

Ramen Festival

At the festival, you can purchase tickets in order to try some delicious, fresh ramen, with ample fixing to suit your particular taste.

The ramen is kept at very affordable prices, so be sure to go on an empty stomach. You’ll be able to try ramen made with all sorts of additions, with fresh ingredients and perfectly cooked noodles. 

Mochi Tsuki All Over Japan 

If you’re in Japan over the New Year, you’ll want to find the closest Mochi Tsuki festival to where you’re staying.

This festival is held all over Japan, and it’s one of the most enjoyable cultural traditions that many locals and tourists participate in to welcome the new year.

You may have to research or ask a local where and when the Mochi tsuki is happening near you. 

Crowds will gather to pound large bowls of mochi together with big mallets. You’ll likely be invited to participate in the pounding, which you’ll want to indulge in as it’s a very fun process.

Making Mochi

The process also takes a couple of days in order to pound rice into a chewy consistency. The rice is often mixed with different ingredients to create a plethora of delicious mochi flavors. 

The festivals are held during the Lunar New Year, which falls between the end of January and the beginning of February. 

Furusato Food Festival In Tokyo 

If you’re in Japan in March, you’ll want to make your way to the Furusato Food Festival held in the breathtaking Yoyogi Park in Tokyo.

The festival is typically held over two days, often falling in the middle of March. There’s a large dome in Yoyogi Park known as the Tokyo Dome, which is where this very big festival is held. 

Yoyogi Park

At this festival, you’ll have the unique chance to try a range of Japanese foods from different parts of the country.

You can drink and eat to your heart’s content while immersing yourself in various parts of Japanese culture. You may want to go on both days so you don’t miss out on any food, as there are a lot of participants at the festival every year. 

It’s recommended you book your spot at the festival in advance to make sure you get in, as this brings people from all over Japan each year. 

Miyajima Oyster Festival In Hiroshima 

This lively oyster festival is held in Hiroshima during the month of February. Fresh, delicious oysters are caught from the waters by the Itsukushima Shrine and are prepared for your indulgence.

There are also oyster farms in the nearby waters of Hiroshima, making it an ideal destination for oyster lovers to taste some of the freshest oysters imaginable. 

Frying oysters in Miyajima

Oysters are prepared using various techniques, and they are fairly inexpensive compared to enjoying them at restaurants since they’re fresh and local.

Oysters can be bought and enjoyed on their own, after being cooked in a variety of styles, or they can be enjoyed as a part of various dishes popular in Hiroshima. 

The festival takes place along the ferry port in Hiroshima, and there are usually big crowds dancing along to taiko drums while eating their oysters. 

Nikupaku In Fukuoka 

The Nukupaku Festival in Fukuoka is the perfect event for meat lovers and is usually held every March.

There are ample types of meat served up in a variety of ways, from being dipped in sauces and marinades, being paired with other ingredients, to being served on a skewer and so much more. 

There is a myriad of restaurants local to Kyushu that participate in this festival and serve up their own unique meat-based dishes. Just be sure you bring a hearty appetite with you. 

Sake Spring Festival In Kyoto 

Sake is a delicious, light rice wine that has been a part of Japanese dining and celebratory cultures for centuries.

During the Sake Spring Festival in Kyoto, you can sample hundreds of different kinds of sake, both hot and cold, from around Japan, giving you an inkling of just how diverse this beverage is. 

Kyoto, Japan – Sake barrels at a Sake festival

The festival is often celebrated in April, and there are food vendors and fun activities to engage in as well.

Sometimes, a DJ will play music to dance to while taking a walk around, and movies are also shown throughout the festivities. 

Meguro Sanma Matsuri Festival In Tokyo 

This annual festival occurs in September in Tokyo, and it’s all about the sanma dish. This dish has an interesting history.

It’s said a feudal lord passed through the area and was served a sanma dish, and he loved it so much he wanted more. However, the chef couldn’t make the fish the same way again. 

Grilling Sanma Fish

There’s a little suburb of Tokyo called Meguro where the festival is held, and free sanma is given out. Try to get to the festival early so you can get a free sample of fresh sanma fish. 

Sapporo Beer Festival In Sapporo 

Sapporo is one such region known around the world for delicious Japanese beer, and every summer, that is celebrated in the city.

This beer festival usually falls between the middle of July and the middle of August in Odori Park. 

Sapporo Odori park

Not only can you enjoy local Sapporo beer, but several of Japan’s well-known breweries will set up bars to let patrons sample their beers.

Other brewers from around the world will also set up beer areas, so be sure to drink responsibly and take breaks in between vendors. 

Nabe Festival In Tokyo 

Nabe is a traditional Japanese hot pot dish that usually consists of broth, meat or seafood, and vegetables.

It’s one of the best ways to warm up on a cold day, which is why a festival honoring this delicious dish is held each year in November in Tokyo. 

Nabe Hot Pot

Various eateries will set up shop at the festival, giving you the chance to taste nabe as it’s interpreted in different regions throughout Japan. 

Kyushu Beer Festival In Fukuoka

The Kyushu Beer Festival is like a Japanese craft beer festival, where patrons can sample various beers made in Kyushu and beyond while enjoying the beautiful spring weather.

It’s usually held between the end of May to the beginning of June. 

There are also many food vendors that participate in the festival so you’ll be able to fuel up between beers. The festival is held in Maizuru Park near Fukuoka Castle. 

Tips For Enjoying Food Festivals In Japan 

Japan throws a lot of exciting festivals throughout the year, with a lot of them revolving around food. You’ll want to be sure you have a decent amount of Yen on you in a secure place, as some vendors and stalls at festivals won’t have card machines. 

It’s also recommended you wear comfortable shoes and weather-appropriate clothing, as you’ll likely be enjoying the festival of your choice for as long as you can.

Many festivals will have many more events and entertainment to enjoy outside of the food, so you’ll likely be there for a while. 

Festivals in Japan are often elaborate events full of energy, so any time you’re in Japan, you should take a look at local event calendars in the area you’re staying in to see if any festivals are taking place during your stay.

With Japan being such a popular destination for foodies, some people will plan their trips and their stays around various food festivals.

Preview Of Osaka’s Ramen Expo

My fascination with Japan began several years back at a roadside bonsai stand while on vacation. I became more interested in the where and why's more than the trees themselves. My love of Bonsai led me to further research my interest in the gardens where they originated from and the places and people that surrounded those little trees. My curiosity was well rewarded upon visiting Saitama where the National Bonsai Museum was located and Omiya Village the bonsai mecca for lovers of this ancient art form. Exploring many towns and villages and even making my way to Japan's furthest southern prefecture of Okinawa. I hope to share my love of this wonderful and exotic place with all those who want to know more about Japan.