Japanese street food or yatai

Japanese street food or yatai

Colorful graphic designs

Japanese street food or yatai


Japanese street food occur mostly during the many festivals that happen throughout the country at various times of the year. One of the most beautiful festivals that I visited in Japan was the fall festival at Takayama, in the Gifu province. The entire riverbank area was packed with very colorful yatai or “street food vendors” offering little bites of regional delicacies from the area.

It’s a very festive scene with the street food vendors, wonderfully festooned booths with colorful and graphic details standing out in the large procession of food offerings vying for the hungry public’s yen with vendors loudly hawking their delicious bites and delicacies to any visitor that was ready to eat!



 Here are some food highlights and specialty dishes



Japanese street food or yatai

Making Takoyaki


Japanese street food or yatai – Grilled seafood and Yakitori meats

This yatai vendor below is offering a large assortment of fried goodies including whole octopus, tentacles, fried fish, yakitori and large snails grilled in their large shells.


Japanese street food or yatai

Street vendors preparing


The local beef specialty called Hida beef is a high-grade Wagyu style of beef comparable to Kobe style beef. Hida beef are the black-haired Japanese cattle raised in the Gifu district and has beautiful marbling efffects and texture with grade A and B ratings for their quality and flavor. The yatai vendor below sold a lot of the Hida beef (meat kabobs next to right side griller) along with various grilled seafood and yakitori (grilled chicken and meats)


Japanese street food or yatai


A large grill of Taiyaiki seafood and fish grilled and yakitori chicken grilled






Japanese street food or yatai

Local grilled shellfish Yakimono style





Takayama fall festival





Japanese street food or yatai

Freshly made Japanese rice crackers


Japanese street food or yatai – snacks and rice crackers

Many of the yatai vendors sell snack items that are popular take-aways, Japanese people love to constantly snack. Here you have a choice of rice crackers, dried fruits, salty seeds like peanuts and pumpkin in spicy flavorings or dried squid, small smoked fishes or various dried seafood. The snacks are all very interesting and flavorful with a variety of spices, soyu, ginger and wasabi based flavorings to give them a different taste.



Japanese street food or yatai

Dried fruits and other delicacies






Japanese street food or yatai

Specialty Onomiyaki dish


Japanese street food or yatai  – Okonomiyaki

Okonomiyaki is a regional specialty fast food of the Kansai or Hiroshima region offering a savory pancake style food filled with different meats or seafood and toppings. It can be filled cabbage and vegetables with anything from pork, chicken beef or seafood and topped with an egg or ham like the vendor display above.  This all depends on the regional specialty of the area and what is grown or produced locally. Other variants include noodles or udon (yakisoba) and piled high in a layered effect.



Another local favorite Yakisoba with cabbage,carrots, ramen noodle, meat, egg and furikake flakes topping
Another local favorite Yakisoba with cabbage,carrots, ramen noodle, meat, egg and furikake flakes topping



Japanese street food or yatai

A variety of boiled oden specialties like fish cakes, eggs and tofu


Japanese street food or yatai – boiled Oden

The large pot above of boiled oden specialties are typically a winter dish typically consisting of eggs, daikon radish, tofu and different varieties of fish cakes.  Different flavorings for the soup include meat broths, soyu sauce, spicy ingredients or miso are used based on regional specialties. Dipping sauces are either served on the side or added to the soup to flavor for individual taste.


A local favorite Taiyaki savory or sweet with fish cake, sausage or bean past in a mayo curry topping

A local favorite Taiyaki savory or sweet with fish cake, sausage or bean past in a mayo curry topping





Japanese street food or yatai

Even the babies love the street food

 Yatai’s come alive at night time

Japanese street food or yatai

Night time festivities at the fall harvest are in full blast and everyone is out walking all the food venues to try all the local specialties. It’s very colorful and festive with delicious foods and wonderful aromas wafting all along the riverfront areas. young and old are out enjoying the evening and visiting with friends that they see on a regular basis, it’s very nice to witness this type of Japanese comraderie and enjoying each other’s company.



Takayama fall festival


Night time with all all the vendor stalls


Night time food cravings and everyone from school children, families to seniors love to stroll down the river front and sample some of the regional specialties of the area. The yatai stalls are a visual delight in their colorful stalls and delicious looking food.


Japanese street food or yatai

Strolling the yatai booths at night are very popular




Japanese street food or yatai

Checking out the food offerings



So many yatai to try, these girls are enjoying crispy chicken wings and gooey fried egg with cod flakes.

Japanese street food or yatai

Enjoying the street food

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Japanese street food or Yatai


There’s a lot of great yatai to sample local delicacies all day and night at the fall harvest festival. Whenever you visit Japan, make sure that you mark some local event that you can visit and try some of the delicious variety of street food, this usually is the only opportunity to try a lot of small bites and regional specialties offered only at these venues.


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18 Responses to Japanese street food or yatai

  1. bk October 29, 2015 at 5:08 pm #

    beautiful pic, maybe i would look for the yatai when i visit japan.

  2. Duke Stewart July 28, 2015 at 11:36 pm #

    I love Japanese street food and miss it so much, even though Korea’s got quite a bit of good food. It’s just different in both places, and Japanese festivals show me way. The last time I was in Japan for a festival was in Hiroshima around Children’s Day, during a Flower Festival or something. I wasn’t sure of the name but went immediately into the food that was going on around it, and it looked just as you describe it and portray with your awesome photos. It’s easy to go broke if you’re hanging around Japanese festivals because they cook so much good stuff that’s too difficult to avoid.

    Thanks for sharing this, Noel. I’m loving going through your older stuff and can’t wait for the next gem that I come across. Take care.

  3. Shana Manuel April 30, 2014 at 10:56 am #

    Beautiful pics of Japanese street food. Great to learn some new terminology: yatai anyone? Very informative. Definitely need to visit japan during one of their festivals

  4. Neva Fels December 13, 2013 at 7:56 pm #

    What an amazing variety of food. The streets looked like every night has a circus atmosphere.

  5. InsideJourneys December 13, 2013 at 2:28 am #

    Great foodie post and photos, Noel. My sardine breakfast looks really unappetizing and boring now.
    Thanks for linking up.

  6. Michele {Malaysian Meanders} December 8, 2013 at 7:32 pm #

    This is very educational. I enjoy looking at, and sometimes actually eating, street food, but I often times don’t know what anything is. You seem very well informed. I see many things in this post that I’d like to try sometime.

  7. Leigh December 6, 2013 at 4:31 pm #

    So are you an adventurous eater? Much of it looks really tasty but I’m a wimp and like to know what I’m eating.Great photos as always.

  8. Mary {The World Is A Book} December 5, 2013 at 9:00 pm #

    I am so hungry now! They look delicious and wish I had found a festival like this when visiting Japan.I love the variety and always adore the Japanese presentation.

  9. InsideJourneys December 5, 2013 at 4:35 pm #

    What a wide variety of foods? And they all look yummy.
    Those eggs look like they’ve just been fried.

  10. budget jan December 5, 2013 at 2:14 pm #

    It is a great idea to visit during festival time to try all the different foods. I will remember to research festivals when planning.

  11. Johanna December 5, 2013 at 2:02 pm #

    Oh, just commented Noel, and Tweeted the post too … but your Twitter link doesn’t come up with your handle … so you probably don’t know? Just saying 🙂

    • Noel December 5, 2013 at 2:09 pm #

      thanks Johanna, I don’t know how to add the handle to the tweeting edits, thanks so much!

  12. Johanna December 5, 2013 at 2:00 pm #

    What an incredibly interesting festival Noel. Degustation by our standards! So much choice, and I would have loved all the little tasty bits of this and that 🙂

  13. Jennifer December 5, 2013 at 12:25 pm #

    Wow, I had no idea there were so many types of Japanese street food! A lot looks delicious.

  14. Heather December 5, 2013 at 9:51 am #

    I love Japanese street food! Even though some of it might look a bit strange at first, you know it’s going to be prepared with care.

  15. muzachan December 5, 2013 at 1:00 am #

    Great photos… I love Japanese food…

  16. Ayngelina December 4, 2013 at 10:51 pm #

    Yum, that all looks amazing! Now I’m hungry!

  17. Marilyn Armstrong December 4, 2013 at 8:47 am #

    Oh Lord that makes me hungry!! Cruel, you are so cruel!

I look forward to hearing from you and continuing our discussion with any comment you would like to add

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