Japanese Cuisine: Different Regions, Different Specialties

Region-Hopping in Japan is a Culinary Adventure

Stretching from north to south, the different regions of Japan have have their own unique climate, hence the different traditions of agriculture, produce and recipes. While there are traditional dishes common throughout the country, many regions and cities in Japan have their own specialities. Here let us look at what specialties stand out as we go from one point to another.


Sapporo in Hokkaido is well known for its ramen shops, common all over Sapporo and other towns in Hokkaido. In fact, there’s a famous “Ramen Alley” or Ramen Yokocho, a narrow passageway with wall-to-wall ramen shops decorated with celebrity-customer signatures. The different cities in Hokkaido were the places of origin of some of the best known ramen found all over Japan.


Monjayaki is so popular in Tokyo that there’s a dedicated Monjayaki street called Tsukishima Monjya Street, or Tsukishima Monja Sutoriito. It was originally a children’s treat, now monjayaki is established as a speciality of the Tsukishima area of Tokyo, near Ginza. Although the dish is often compared to okonimiyaki, monjayaki has more of a liquid base.


Kyoto is known for yudofu is a warming meal, a winter hotpot dish in Japan, especially in Kyoto where winter is very cold. It’s made of tofu put in a kelp soup, taken out and dipped in sauce. Buddhist priests in Kyoto ate this as a source of protein as they’re unable to eat meat or fish for religious reasons. Today many restaurants offer delicious boiled tofu in Kyoto.


Takoyaki are grilled octopus dumplings, tasty treats found in parks, along the street, in restaurants, almost anywhere in Osaka. As the octopus dumplings of Kansai are small and easy to eat, they have become a popular dish throughout Japan.


Hiroshima is known for Okonomiyaki or savoury pancakes, popular even before the WWII. After the war, with food shortages, people developed these pancakes into a meal, adding additional ingredients. The Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki has a six-layered structure, with flour batter, cabbage, and noodles.


Kagawa on the island of Shikoku is famous as the origin of Sanuki-udon, and has many udon (wheat-flour noodle) makers and restaurants. Sanuki wheat-flour noodles are noted for their strong body and smooth texture with many varieties of toppings. Kagawa has many self-service udon restaurants.


Champuru is an Okinawan word meaning roughly “mix.” Champuru dishes are a mixture of various ingredients fried together, and usually named after the main ingredient. The most common types of champuru in Okinawa are goya (bittermelon) champuru, tofu champuru, and somen champuru.