Well, this one is easy! Foodies in Japan will find themselves in paradise no matter where they go. Why do I make such bold claims? Because I’ve been there and even though I am a very picky foodie, I hardly found foods in Japan I hated. In fact, what I found was all delectable. Just ask my bank account, my spending suddenly doubled. Someone has to try everything. And this is what you should put on your foodie bucketlist.
Regional Specialties for Foodies in Japan
Each region has its own specialties. Even if you fancy sushi or noodles, there will be a special spin on it. For instance, for the best sushi, you should visit local restaurants in Tokyo. For Nagoya, expect a lot of miso sauce on everything and with Osaka and Hiroshima you need to try out the okonomyaki (and don’t publicly admit you tried both versions).
My special recommendation is to look for KitKats everywhere you go because they come in crazy cool flavours and vary as well. Try cheesecake, apple and green tea. Of course, the general food list is much longer than this and Tofugo has put together an excellent overview of the three main dishes for all Japanese prefectures.
Ordering Made Easy
One thing I absolutely love about eating out in Japan is that you can either get amazing street food (especially at temple festivals, such as in Kyoto during cherry blossom season or Sanja Matsuri in Tokyo), but you can easily order it in restaurants as well – without speaking a word of Japanese. Of course, it’s always better to know a bit of Japanese to find your way around and be respectful but not speaking a word should not scare you from coming at all.
Restaurants usually have menus with pictures and commonly also plastic dishes in the windows so you can exactly see what you’ll get. You might not be able to ask about all the ingredients but at least you can try to make out what the ingredients could be ( a fun game, too!). And you’ll hardly regret your choice. I certainly didn’t – except for the miso ice cream in Nagano.
The Tax Thing
Did you know that in Japan, the taxation can be really confusing? At least it was for me because sometimes it was included in the price I saw in the shops and other times I realised it wasn’t when I was about to pay. Sucks. So I encourage you to always look for the +税 sign, which means it is not included.
And there’s another tricky thing for cheap foodies in Japan: unlike most other countries you cannot reclaim your tax at the airports. You need to do it in special tax free shops. For consumable goods that means your items with a combined minimum of ¥5,000 should all be bought the same day and you can get the money back upstairs after your purchase.
Surprise: Here’s a Free Guide
And to give you some more handy first-timer tips for your Japan travels – or inspiration in case you are not planning an upcoming trip yet – I put together a little printable Japan guide with information I learnt during my trip (which gets you access to my library full of more travel prinouts as well). I wish I had known a lot of these tips and hope you will like them. You’ll see flowering times, a calendar with important festivals and what souvenirs you really need to shop.
Should you want to learn more about specific places, why not check out my tips on the Railpass and whether it is worth buying it or go straight to my quick city guides on Nikko, Hiroshima, Nara or Mount Fuji, to mention a few.
Has Japan always had this fascination on you as well? It had been high on my bucketlist for years and I certainly will go back as there is so much more to discover. Especially more places for foodies in Japan. Which place would be most interesting to you?