A Guide to the Top Food Festivals in Japan 2018

A Guide to the Top Food Festivals in Japan 2018

From beer and sake festivals to a month-long Ramen Expo, here are nine food festivals happening in Japan this 2018. Mark your calendars!

Ah… The land of the rising sun. It boasts many awe-inspiring sceneries, the most advanced technology, sinfully good cuisine, and world-dominating anime. And to add to that, the many food festivals happening around the year that give you more than enough reasons to revisit Japan again and again.

Here, we have sussed out the biggest food festivals happening in Japan this 2018. Got your calendars ready?

March
Japan Local (Furusato) Food Festival, Tokyo

Image credit: Leng Cheng

If you only have time to travel to one part of Japan, we suggest hitting up Tokyo for the Japan Local Furusato Food Festival. As the festival showcases a variety of food from different parts of Japan, you can get a taste of all the different cities’ cuisines! The best part is some of the profits from the food festival will go towards helping the disaster areas of Tohoku and Kyushu, so you’re essentially eating for a good cause! #Guiltfree

Date and time: 10 – 11 Mar 2018, 10am – 4pm
Venue: NHK Broadcasting Center, Yoyogi Park (12-minute walk from Harajuku Station)
Admission: Free

Bayside Nikupaku Festival, Fukuoka

Image credit: Rene Mayorga

All my meat-loving people, this is for you! Indulge in all your favourite meat dishes at the Bayside Nikupaku Festival! Think of all the succulent, juicy meat skewers, and buttery beef cubes melting in your mouth. How about the perfectly-marbled medium rare steak that simply glides down your throat? Even my mouth is watering as I write this!

Be sure to get there early if you want a taste of everything as the stalls will close the moment they sell out.

Date and time: 17 – 18 Mar 2018, 11am – 7pm (or until sold out)
Venue: Bayside Place Hakata outdoor special venue
Admission: Advance tickets at JPY1000(~S$12.36) which can be exchanged for 11 x 100 yen passes.
Ticketing website: https://passmarket.yahoo.co.jp/event/show/detail/01quvczamrdx.html

April

Sake Spring Kyoto, Kyoto

Image credit: Jim

Here’s one for Sake lovers. Over 200 brands of Sake from all across Japan will be available at this festival. This is the perfect excuse to let your inner alcoholic run a little wild, but remember to drink responsibly! Food stalls will also be available at the event so you can indulge in local food as well.

Date and time: 28 – 29 Apr 2018, 11am – 6pm
Venue: Kyoto International Conference Center (Nearest station: Kokusaikaikan Station)
Admission: Advanced ticket: JPY3,500 (~S$43.26); at the door ticket: JPY4,000 (~S$49.44); entry after 3pm ticket: JPY2,000 (~S$24.72)
Ticketing website: http://taiken.onozomi.com/sakesp/

Late May/ Early June

Kyushu Beer Festival, Kyushu

Image credit: Raita Futo

We all know that the Japanese love their beer, so it’s no surprise that they actually have a festival dedicated to it! This year’s Kyushu Beer Festival, held in the Kagoshima prefecture, includes beer from breweries such as Yamaguchi Beer, Kirishima Kogem, Kirishima Beer, and many more. The beers are reasonably priced at about JPY500 (~S$6.18) too! So if you’re a beer lover, this is a festival you won’t want to miss!

Date and time: Late May – early Jun (exact dates to be updated)
Venue: Beside Kagoshima Chuo Station
Admission: Free

September

Meguro Sanma Matsuri, Tokyo

Image credit: (top) Kobakou, (bottom) Hirotomo T

September marks the start of the Sanma (Pacific Saury) season in Japan. To welcome the bountiful Sanma catches, the locals give out over 6,000 fresh Sanmas every year on the first Sunday of September!

Get ready for what’s possibly going to be the longest line you’ve ever stood in. We suggest wearing comfortable shoes, bringing along an umbrella, and lots of water. As always, get there early!

Date and time: 2 Sep 2018, 10am onwards
Venue: Meguro Station
Admission: Free

November

Nabe Festival, Tokyo

Image credit: Kikuko Nakayama

November signifies the beginning of the winter season in Japan, and what better way to beat the cold than with a bowl of piping hot soup? The Nabe Festival welcomes winter by having throngs of people enjoy delicious fresh soup made with dashi stock, and topped with various vegetables and meats. Vendors from all over Japan will be here to serve up their own state’s version of the popular soup dish, so be sure to make a pit stop here if you plan to visit Tokyo in winter!

Date and time: Late Nov (Exact dates to be confirmed), 10am onwards (Exact time to be confirmed)
Venue: Hibiya Park (Nearest Station: Hibiya Station)
Admission: Free

December

Ramen Expo, Osaka

Image credit: Kelsea Groves

Japan is well-known for serving up scrumptious bowls of Ramen. But did you know that Ramen is prepared differently in the various Japanese states? At the Ramen festival, you get to try out every single one of them, and even if you’re not a big fan of ramen, you might find one here that suits your palette! The best part about the Ramen expo is that it’s happening every weekend (including Fridays) through December. There’s also a Ladies’ Night promotion every Friday where Ramen goes for JPY700 (~S$8.65) instead of the usual JPY800 (~S$9.90) from 11am – 5pm.

Date and time: Every Friday – Sunday through Dec, 11am – 9pm (last order at 8.30pm)
Venue: Expo Commemoration Park (Nearest Station: Banpapukoen Station)
Admission: Free

Other Notable Festivals:

Here are a couple more interesting food festivals we think you should check out as well! Unfortunately, these are already over for 2018, but that only means you have more time to source for the best travel deals and plan for your 2019 trip! *wink*

Miyajima Oyster Festival, Miyajima Island, Hiroshima

Image credit: Sharonang

Hiroshima has no shortage of festivals that celebrate oyster harvests, but only the Miyajima Oyster Festival was the first to gain enough traction to be coined a full-fledged festival. Every year, on the first weekend of February, the Miyajima Oyster Festival commences. Miyajima houses many oyster farms, so you can get the freshest oysters here for as low as JPY100 (~S$1.30) per oyster dish! You can smell the sweet aroma of freshly grilled oysters the moment you step onto the pier of Miyajima Island. Popular dishes include oyster okonomiyaki, oyster dote nabe, and oyster stew. If you’re a fan of oysters, this is one festival you cannot miss.

Date and time: First weekend of February (exact date and time to be confirmed)
Venue: Miyajima Island (take a train from Hiroshima Station to Miyajimaguchi Station, then take the ferry from Miyajimaguchi to Miyajima Pier.)
Admission: Free

Mochitsuki, across Japan

Image credit: Wikipedia/Chris73

Every Lunar New Year, the various Japanese communities will come together to usher in the New Year with Mochitsuki, which is an important traditional event in preparation for the New Year. During Mochitsuki, residents will steam and pound their own mochi, and prepare it fresh with red bean paste. The mochitsuki festival can be found in many neighbourhoods across Japan, and are often coupled with other food options and entertainment. If you’re celebrating the Lunar New Year anywhere in Japan, you can’t miss this! If you’re not sure where to head for the festival, simply ask the locals and they will point you the right way.

Date: Lunar New Year (exact dates to be confirmed)
Venue: Any neighbourhood across Japan
Admission: Free

Although it’s only the start of 2018, it’s never too early to start looking out for flight promotions! If you’re planning to visit any of these food festivals, we suggest hitting the gym from now till then, so you won’t feel the pinch from not being able to fit into your favourite jeans when you get back. Trust us, you will be spoilt for food choices both from the festival and on the streets of Japan.

About Author

Cheryl Teng
Cheryl Teng

When Guan Yin Ma was blessing others with the gift of height, she left Cheryl out because she realised that great things should come in tiny packages, so she gifted Cheryl with endless energy, sass, and a huge smile to top it all off. Most days, she can be found planning her world domination, reading up on war and conspiracy theories, or sniffing around for cheap travel deals because she spends all her money on food.

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