Regional Foods of Japan

Find out about some of the local and regional specialities of Kyoto, Hokkoido, Kagoshima and Okinawan...

Each region and even local areas in Japan have their own specialities. However, in general there are two main food regions; the Kanto region (in the east of the island), where the food is associated with strong tastes, and the Kansai region (in the west), which is associated with lightly seasoned food and clear soups.

Hokkaido

The Hokkaido region in the north of Japan is renowned for its high quality and fresh seafood, such as: sea urchin (uni), crab (kani), squid (ika), salmon roe (ikura) and scallops (hotate). Typical dishes include:

  • Ramen, a noodle soup which is served topped with local speciality ingredients
  • Genghis Khan (Jingisukan) a meat dish (usually mutton) with vegetables
  • Ishikari Nabe, a winter hotpot
  • Izushi, a type of sushi in which fish such as salmon is preserved and fermented with rice and vegetables for up to two months

This region also commonly uses dairy products in its dishes, owing to the large dairy industry in Hokkaido.

Okinawan

Okinawan is the southernmost prefecture of Japan and its cuisine is quite unique due to its influences from China, South East Asia and the United States. Popular dishes include:

  • Champuru, a stir-fry, the most popular being Goya Champuru which is made of goya (a vegetable) served with tofu, eggs and pork. Variations include using thin egg noodles and green papaya
  • Okinawa Soba, made from wheat noodles and normally served in a broth with toppings such as pork along with green onions, fish cake and red ginger
  • Taco Rice, a result of the region's American influence; it includes typical taco ingredients such as ground beef, lettuce, tomatoes and salsa rice
  • Rafute, another famous dish made from thick cuts of belly pork cooked in soya sauce and fish broth
  • Mimiga, thinly cut pig's ear boiled or steamed and served with a ponzu sauce, salt or peanut dressing
  • Umibudo, a type of seaweed, often served with a little vinegar or soya sauce
  • Tofuya, made from soya bean; it has a strong flavour and is served in small portions
  • Yagi sashimi, raw goat's meat served in thin slices

Kyoto

Kyoto in the Kansai region offers a variety of specialities and some of its most famous dishes include:

  • Kaiseki Ryori, a dish associated with fine dining and including a variety of dishes, which are renowned for their subtle flavours and use a range of local and seasonal ingredients. There is usually a particular order in which the dishes should be eaten and depending on the restaurant, this type of meal can be expensive
  • Shojin Ryori, a dish typically made with tofu, which is a speciality ingredient of the region. It is a vegetarian, savoury but filling dish
  • Yudofu i, another common tofu dish, made with soft tofu and vegetables in a broth
  • Obanzai Ryori, a regional method of home-style cooking. It consists of a number of small dishes that vary depending on what is in season

Kagoshima

The cuisine from Kagoshima in the south of JapanĀ  is also known as Satsuma Cuisine and includes dishes such as:

  • Satsumaage, a paste made of minced fish (such as mackerel or sardines) which is deep fried and served with pickled ginger and vegetables
  • Kibinago, made with a small type of herring and often served raw with a soybean paste
  • Torisashi, raw chicken (tori) served in thin slices accompanied by ground ginger and soy sauce
  • Tonkotsu, a stew made with pork and miso, served with vegetables
  • Kurobuta and Kuroushi, either pork or beef served breaded, deep fried, or as a steak and served with vegetables