• Kazuko Lillie

Feast of Festival Food - Wasshoi Wednesday #4

Summertime in Japan has many different images; rainy season making the hydrangeas bloom, trips to the beach with friends, watching the fireflies come out at dusk. However, one of the most common scenes that comes to mind when thinking about summer is the soft glow of lanterns lining rows of food stalls, while friends and families mill around in colorful yukatas. One of the most anticipated summer activities, the festivals, both large and small, seem to happen almost every weekend across Japan. Most take place over the course of a weekend, filled with performances and fireworks. But today, we want to talk about the most important part of any festival...the food! Everyone that's been to a natsu matsuri (summer festival) has a favorite treat that adds to their experience. While the pandemic will change how festivals are held this summer, if at all, we hope today you can indulge in memories of past matsuri, or get excited for future ones! And if you're really craving something off this list (we know we are!), you can always find a recipe to try at home!

The Classics

Karaage (fried chicken)

Always best when served straight from the fryer! You can either get this in a cup (good if you're sharing with friends) or on a stick. Most convenience stores in Japan will set up their own booth outside their store during a festival to serve their own products, including karaage.


These stir-fried noodles are common all year round, but during a festival, they're great if you want something a bit more filling. This is a great option if you're about to head down to the picnic area to watch fireworks!


This unique food (small bits of octopus in fried dough) has its origins as an Osaka street food, but is also enjoyed at festivals across Japan. Watching the vendor make the takoyaki is almost as enjoyable as eating it!

Sweet Stuff

Kakigori (shaved ice)

Americans often think kakigori is the same as snow cones, but it's actually a little different! The ice flakes that are shaved off the block are normally finer, making the result light and fluffy! Normally you tell the vendor what flavor(s) of syrup you want, but sometimes there will be a self-serve booth where you can mix and match as many of the syrups as you like!