14 Japanese Street Food Must-Eats & Where To Eat Them

14 Japanese Street Food Must-Eats & Where To Eat Them

Street food is popular all around the world, and Japan is no exception. It's quite common to eat Japanese street food dishes at restaurants, bars, and even at izakayas.

But have you tried all of them? From sweet to savory, Japanese street food can be almost anything as long as it's small and portable. Let's take a look at everything you need to know about street food in Japan and where to eat it.

What is Japanese street food?

Japanese street foods are small portioned, ready-to-eat dishes or snacks that are sold at street vendors, food stalls, or small shops throughout Japan.

They can be sweet or savory, warm or cold, chewy or crispy, or fried or baked. But most of all, they are delicious to eat.

Many of these Japanese street foods have allergens such as seafood or nuts, so it’s important to be aware of what you can or can not eat especially if you have allergies.

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Here are the common popular street foods that you will see anywhere throughout Japan.

Savory Japanese street food

savory Japanese street food

These are common savory Japanese street foods that you will see at any time of the year.

1. Takoyaki 

Takoyaki is by far one of the most popular Japanese street foods that people will mention.

These are savory balls of cooked batter filled with tempura scraps, pickled ginger, green onion, and octopus bits that are topped with a tangy sauce, seaweed flakes, and bonito flakes.

Takoyaki are served on a small paper dish and are eaten with a toothpick or small skewer. But be careful! They are served hot and fresh, and you don’t want to be burning your mouth.

2. Yakisoba

Another common Japanese street food that you will see.

Yakisoba is stir-fried noodles with slices of meat, chopped vegetables, and noodles all cooked in a sweet and savory sauce similar to Worcestershire sauce on a steel griddle.

Typically made with pork, but you can also see chicken, shrimp, or even calamari added to this street food. There’s even a similar dish called yaki udon, which has all the same ingredients but is made with udon noodles instead.

3. Yakitori and other grilled meats

This street food is grilled meat skewers that are cooked over a charcoal grill, and—in my opinion, they are one of the best street foods to eat out there.

While yakitori are grilled pieces of chicken, many places will also cook pork and beef along with green onion, skin, liver, and minced meat.

Most commonly, it is topped with sweet soy sauce-based sauce. And while simple, it is the perfect portable food.

4. Okonomiyaki

The most common translation for okonomiyaki is Japanese savory pancake, and it is a mix of cooked batter of cabbage, meat and seafood all cooked on a griddle and topped with okonomiyaki sauce and Japanese mayo.

It can be made with various seafood such as shrimp, octopus, or squid, or other meats such as beef and pork.

5. Ikayaki and other grilled seafood

These are grilled squid on a stick that is usually brushed with a soy-based sauce. You can also find grilled scallops, clams, and oysters.

A squeeze of lemon perfectly freshens up this seafood street food.

6. Yaki imo

Yaki imo translates as baked or roasted sweet potato and that is what this street food is. Despite its simplicity, it is the perfect treat to have in fall or winter. It's warm, tender, fluffy, and sweet enough making it a perfect snack on any cold day.

Sweet Japanese street food

sweet Japanese street food

Japanese street food is not just savory, it can also be sweet. Arguably, there are more sweet-flavored Japanese treats than savory ones.  

7. Taiyaki

Taiyaki is a fish-shaped pastry usually filled with sweetened red bean paste, but it can also be filled with custard, chocolate, or cream.

8. Kakigori 

Kakigori translates to shaved ice, and these are the perfect cool-off treat for summer.

Japanese shaved ice is super fluffy and is usually topped with flavorful syrups and condensed milk.

9. Imagawayaki and other poppable cakes

Imagawayaki is a Japanese street food snack that is made out of batter and filled with sweet red bean paste. Other fillings such as custard and sweet potato are becoming popular.

There is another similar Japanese sweet treat called dorayaki which is a two fluffy pancake that is filled with sweetened red bean paste.

You can find similar snacks that are small cooked sweet batter that are pop-able to eat. 

10. Dango

Dangos are skewered mochi balls made from sweet glutinous rice flour that is usually topped with different glazes, flavored powdered, or various sweet pastes. The perfect treat to eat while on-the-go.

11. Candied fruit

The most famous candied fruit in Japan is ringo-ame, which are whole apples covered in a hard sugar shell on a stick. Other fruits such as strawberries, grapes, apricots, kiwi, and mandarin oranges are also candied and often sold in the same food stall. 

It’s sweet, crunchy, juicy, and overall delicious. Definitely a must-try if you have a sweet tooth.

12. Choco bananas

Also called chocolate bananas, these are skewered bananas that are coated in flavored chocolate. What’s more delicious than bananas and chocolate?

13. Wata-ame

Translated as cotton candy, this Japanese street food is commonly found atJapanese summer festivals.

14. Soft cream

This food is Japanese soft serve ice cream, and it is creamier and thicker than your typical soft serve.

You can find them anywhere from rest stops, markets, festivals, and even convenience stores.

They also come in almost any flavor you can think of such as vanilla, chocolate, matcha, hojicha (roasted green tea), black sesame, strawberry, milk, ramune, etc.

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Where can I eat Japanese street food?

Any of these Japanese street foods can be found during Japanese summer festivals, but there are dedicated places where you can eat any of these street foods at any time of the year.


1. Nakamise Shopping Street, Asakusa

This market street also holds the Senso-ji Temple and is one of the best places in Tokyo to eat Japanese street food. So if you are stopping by here, take a quick look around. 

Nakamise Shopping Street is lined with traditional shops and stalls selling various street foods, snacks, and souvenirs.

Location: 1 Chome-36-3 Asakusa, Taito City, Tokyo 111-0032

2. Tsukiji Market

The Tsukiji fish market has been moved to Toyosu, but there’s still lots of seafood street food to discover at this Tsukiji Market.

This market is bustling with food stalls, sushi restaurants, and shops.  

Location: 4 Chome-13 Tsukiji, Chuo City, Tokyo 104-0045

3. Ameyoko Market in Tokyo

This vibrant market has a variety of street foods as well as clothes shops, cosmetics stores, and more, making it the perfect location to shop and eat all in one place.

Location: 6 Chome-10 Ueno, Taito City, Tokyo 110-0005

Osaka and Kyoto

4. Dotonbori, Osaka

Dotonbori is one of the best places to eat street food in the Kansai region of Japan.

Most famously it has the Dotonbori Glico Sign and here you can eat all the classic Osaka street foods like takoyaki and okonomiyaki, as well as many other types of street food.

Location: 1 Chome Dotonbori, Chuo Ward, Osaka, 542-0071

5. Kuromon Ichiba Market, Osaka

Nicknamed “Osaka’s Kitchen,” Kuromon Ichiba Market has local restaurants, stores, and food stalls where you can try the various local foods.

Many stalls will cook the food fresh for you making it a great place to walk around and snack your way through the market.

Location: 2 Chome Nipponbashi, Chuo Ward, Osaka, 542-0073

6. Nishiki Market, Kyoto

Also known as "Kyoto's Kitchen," Nishiki Market is a narrow but bustling food market in the heart of Kyoto.

You will find specialty food-related items such as seafood, produce, knives, and cookware, but you can also find seasonal foods and Kyoto specialties.

Location: Nakagyo Ward, Kyoto, 604-8055


7. Yatai Stalls in Fukuoka

Fukuoka city is filled with yatai or standing food stalls. They are everywhere around Tenjin. Owners set up their stalls every night around the city streets and riverbanks. Each stall is different, offering a unique experience of Fukuoka's local street food.

Location: Fukuoka’s yatai map 

In closing

Whether you are walking in the city or taking part in a rural Japanese festival, you will surely find one of these Japanese street foods around. If you are craving a snack and happen to be near a food stall, consider taking a bite of any of these Japanese street foods.

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