Cuisine Culture Summer

10 Most Popular Japanese Summer Foods

Summer in Japan is full of amazing surprises. With lots of interesting events and festivals, you can discover what to eat in Japan in summer. You must be interested in knowing the most popular Japanese summer foods, especially if you are planning to visit Japan soon.

Time has come to introduce the best ones here. Whatever the weather reacts at this time of year, having famous Japanese dishes in a traditional Japanese restaurant would be an incredible experience.

In summer, it rains a lot though sunny days don’t disappear. In fact, lately arriving of rainy season has declared in central, western Japan, including Kyushu. The good news is that during rainy season it does not rain every day. That means you will have time to travel around and head to some restaurants to taste famous summer dishes of Japan.

Yummy Yakitori – A popular summer food in Japan. Photo Credit: Jonathan Lin at Flickr.

During summer, when you are done admiring the views of some attractions in a city or town, you should head out to explore the local foods of that particular place.

A list of popular summer dishes will be served to you by a waiter/waitress then. It is up to you which one to order first then the next one.

We suggest you to try different kinds of dishes from different restaurants. Never try to explore all from one and you will have to switch them to taste the best foods. Though, temporary food carts/stalls can be found elsewhere in Japan, offering you delicious street food.

If you don’t take a trip to Japan in summer, but wish to taste some of the dishes at home then learn some Japanese summer recipes right away.

1) Somen

Somen noodles. Photo Credit: Toshiyuki IMAI at Flickr.

Summer is humid in Japan. Traveling around in such weather can make you to have some relaxing type of foods/dishes. Yes, I could name one and that’s called “Somen”. This is a traditional Japanese meal, usually eaten in the summer.

It may be an unusual noodle dish for you as it is served cold. In Japan, there are many varieties of cold noodle dishes and Somen is just one of them. The main characteristics of this type noodle are that they are boiled, thin while noodles lightly dipped in a sauce (tsuyu) and cooled.

In addition, to make the sauce a little more flavor you can add ginger or wasabi. It is a great substitute of drinking a cold drink. You can make it at home very easily. Here is a cookbook for you to learn how to make Somen at home.

2) Kakigori

Kakigori – Wanna have it? Photo Credit: Norio NAKAYAMA at Flickr.

There is nothing good than having Kakigori (shaved ice in a cup) on a hot summer day. It is like you are going to have freshly fallen snow but something is missing there. What’s that? That’s the syrup! This is the main ingredient of this food.

There is a list of flavors such strawberry, cherry, green tea, melon, blueberry and etc. My favorite flavor is the melon, what about yours? Kakigori is also referred as a popular summer snack in Japanese society. I hope you would not miss eating this. I do have a surprise for you that you can make Kakigori at home.

You just need to have a Snow cone maker and flavors. Once you have these get prepared to make some. Learn how to make Kakigori at home. Good luck to you.

3) Ayu

Ayu is being cooked. Photo Credit: Lisa Pinehill at Flickr.

Ayu is a freshwater fish, usually grilled and then served. It has gentle sweetness with a light texture. In Japan, summer is associated with fireworks and festival. Therefore, almost every evening fireworks display is seen in the night sky around Japan.

Having Ayu while watching fireworks is simply awesome, especially for those who likes eating fish.

It is one of the most popular summer festival foods in Japan; you can easily get it from food carts that take place outside near a festival area.

4) Watermelon

Japanese square watermelon. Photo Credit: rumpleteaser at Flickr.

Watermelon is my favorite summer fruit. During the summer months, I mostly prefer eating several slices of watermelon. They are not just refreshing but very delicious and perfect fruit to get rid of dehydration. Japanese watermelon comes in different shapes, sizes and colors.

One of the most interesting shapes could be the square watermelon. Here in Japan, people sometimes buy square watermelon not only for eating but also for giving it as a gift to someone.

Be aware that if you buy square watermelon or heart shaped watermelon from supermarkets then it would be costly.

5) Hiyashi Chuka

Hiyashi Chuka. Photo Credit: Kazuho Okui at Flickr.

Japanese cuisine is rich and famous for its colors, ingredients, regional specialties and aromatic flavors.

Hiyashi Chuka is another popular Japanese summer dish that you would like to have in a hot humid day. The dish consists of cold ramen noodles, eggs, ham, shrimp, carrot, cucumber, tomato, sesame soy sauce and etc.

If you are a vegetarian or vegan then don’t add eggs, ham or shrimp, instead use various kinds of vegetables and other fresh ingredients to make the dish even more colorful.

Though, Hiyashi Chuka literally means Chilled Chinese, it is a perfect cold ramen noodles in Japan, and hugely popular dish to enjoy on a hot summer day.

Find the recipe here and buy Myojo Chukazanmai Hiyashi Chuka Instant Cold Noodles.

6) Grilled Unagi

Grilled Unagi Dish. Photo Credit: Guilhem Vellut at Flickr.

Grilled Unagi or freshwater Japanese eel is a perfect dish for a lunch in Japan during summer. To tell you the truth, it is an expensive summer dish. Its price is high in comparison with rest of the dishes that have been described so far in this article.

However, to experience something unique and delicious dish like this kind, I think you won’t hesitate to pay the money. It gives you a lot of stamina to survive the summer.

Grilled unagi mixed with sweet soy sauce is crispy and the rice served with it is totally delicious. If you have a charcoal grill like this at home then it will not be a daunting task to try it home. Do it if you are interested in it.

7) Rei Shabu

Shabu-shabu, Japanese summer food. Photo Credit: cyclonebill at Flickr.

Rei Shabu (cold pork shabu shabu) is a quite famous summer dish in Japan. Shabu Shabu is a nabemono hot pot dish while this version is not like that. It is more like a cold salad dish.

Cooking Rei Shabu is pretty simple. At first slice the pork and vegetables like cucumber, carrot, daikon and tomato.

Then boil water in a pot and place the sliced pork. When the sliced pork become pink remove it immediately then place in a cold water pot. Now place everything on a serving plate and then put the sesame sauce dressing on top. That’s it and remember its worth trying at home!

8) Yakitori

Yakitori for sale! Photo Credit: TAKA@P.P.R.S at Flickr.

Have you ever been to any Izakaya restaurant in Japan? Yes, Yakitori can be found there always. It is one of the most eaten summer festival foods in Japan.

Yakitori is a grilled bite-size various chicken parts put of wooden sticks and usually enjoyed along with alcoholic beverages.

There are several kinds of Yakitori types such as momo, kawa, mune, tebasaki and so on. You can learn how to make Yakitori at home and then could surprise your family members and friends. Hopefully, you learn it properly.

9) Ramune

A bottle of Ramune. Photo Credit: Klardrommar at Flickr.

Most of the people in Japan prefer to drink a bottle of Ramune as it is seen to be a renowned carbonated soft drink. From kids to adult, everyone likes it.

Usually, it comes in a variety of flavors such as lemon, banana, cherry, bubble gum, curry, blueberry, apple, melon, mango, and so on.

There are unique design of bottles can be found, which even make every bottle pretty cute to look at. I think if you don’t drink it in summer then you certainly miss an important thing from your entire Japan trip.

10) Morioka Reimen

Having a bowl of Morioka Reimen during summer is a must. Photo Credit: Shacho0822

Morioka reimen is a popular local specialty of Iwate prefecture. It is a cold noodle dish, originally was developed from a famous Korean noodle called Naengmyeon.

To make Morioka reimen one needs to have cold beef broth, boiled egg, slices of beef, chewy glass springy texture noodles, watermelon, kimchi and slices of various vegetables. You can read about this noodle dish here in detail.

Try your best to taste all these popular foods when traveling across Japan in summer. Visiting Japan in the summer is fun as many interesting festivals are celebrated throughout the country.

If you are not coming to Japan this summer, I would highly recommend you learn the recipes or please at least check out this popular Japanese cookbook from where you can learn many simple Japanese recipes.

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