Japan has four distinct seasons, not including the rainy season and the typhoon season, and each season is celebrated in its own distinct way. Religious festivals featuring parades of floats mark the coming of Autumn, while Spring is all things sakura. Summer in Japan features fireworks festivals, sunflowers, bon-odori matsuri and beachgoing. One of the main ways Japanese people celebrate the passing of time is by enjoying various seasonal delicacies. This article will introduce the typical foods eaten in summer in Japan.
Kakigori is the quintessential Japanese summer festival dessert which everyone remembers fondly from their childhood.
Also known as shaved ice, kakigori can be made with the regular syrup flavours such as strawberry, melon or grape, but it can also be made into an art form, with special flavours and decorations such as condensed milk. The best kakigori tastes are those using regional flavours, such as cherry in Yamagata or mikan in Ehime.
Every summer festival will likely have multiple kakigori stalls ranging in price from 100 yen to 400 yen. Next time you're out and about this summer, embrace your inner child and try a Japanese shaved ice!
When the weather is as excruciatingly hot as summer in Tokyo is, you don't feel much like eating a heavy meal. On these summer days, noodles are the perfect thing to keep you going. In particular, cold somen noodles. Somen are thin white noodles made of wheat flour, making them much less doughy and more airy and light than other noodles such as udon.
You can buy the noodles at the supermarket and cook then in just 3-4 minutes on the stove. Cool them and eat with tsuyu dipping sauce. You can add some refreshing sides like cucumber or egg if you are so inclined.
Fruits are light, refreshing and juicy – perfect for keeping you hydrated in summer. Of course we have fruits in our home countries, and probably for a cheaper price than in Japan. However the Japanese fruits are something special. The care taken to produce the perfect fruit means that they are often larger and sweeter than what we would get back home.
In particular, watermelon is popular in summer. Many people add salt to keep them hydrated, but you can also eat them as is. Every supermarket will sell both sliced and whole watermelons, and you can even buy a special yellow variety. Peaches are also popular in summer in Japan, with mostly white-fleshed peaches to be found.
Hokkaido is famous for producing the bulk of Japan’s corn. No trip to Hokkaido in summer would be complete without trying a cob of corn. Even in Tokyo, you can find corn on the cob sold at most summer festivals, and for around 100 yen at the supermarket. Corn is the perfect side to a light meal, and it requires almost no preparation!
Another noodle dish eaten by Japanese people in summer is tokoroten, or jelly noodles. They are made from kanten, a jelly-like subtance made from seaweed. It is a healthier gluten free alternative to most pasta and noodles and can be made both sweet or savory.
One popular way to eat these noodles is with soy sauce, vinegar and mirin, served with mustard, nori and sesame seeds. They will often be served in summer as part of a dinner course in a ryokan (Japanese style hotel), or you can try making them at home.
6. Ayu Sweetfish
Ayu sweetfish can be found sold on sticks at many summer festivals in Japan. These festival stalls sell frozen smaller ayu though, while if you go near a river and eat them fresh, you can enjoy a much bigger and tastier sweetfish. Ayu are a great snack for summer, as they are salted to help your hydration. The taste is considered both savoury and sweet and not at all too fishy. If you stay at a ryokan near a river, expect this to be part of your dinner.
7. Hiyashi Chuka
Hiyashi chuka is a very popular summer dish made from cold ramen noodles. The noodles are chilled and served with sliced ham and cucumber, thin strips of egg and sometimes slices of tomato or crab, and a tasty sauce. Because hiyashi chuka is so colorful, with every ingredient separated and presented appealingly, this is a good option to serve fussy kids, as they can pick and choose what toppings to eat.
You can buy these in sets to prepare yourself, or premade bowls, at the supermarket. You can choose whatever vegetables you prefer to include. A slice of lemon on top is the perfect finish for this refreshing summer noodle bowl.
8. Zaru soba
Yet another Japanese summer noodle dish is zaru soba, or cold soba. Soba is a traditional noodle made from buckwheat flour and served with a dipping sauce called tsuyu. In summer, people eat the noodles served over a bamboo strainer, nicely chilled.
Almost every restaurant will serve soba, so you should have no problem finding somewhere to try this cold version. It often comes with tempura on the side - try fresh mountain vegetable and leaf tempura!
There are certain days throughout the year known as "Doyo no ushi no hi" (eel day). On these days, people eat unagi (eel) in order to maintain their stamina. It is believed that eating eel brings relief from the humidity and heat during the summer. Unagi day started in the 18th century when an enterprising businessman told people that they should eat foods starting with the U character (Ushi no hi) and it actually worked, and all other unagi shops followed along!
On eel day, you will find lots of pre-cooked eel in the supermarket, or you can go to a specialty restaurant.
Shikwasa is a superfruit from Okinawa, known for being high in vitamin C. This citrus fruit, while popular on the islands, is little known on mainland Japan. It is a small lime-like fruit which is made into juice, ice cream and all manner of products. If you buy the 100% shekwasa juice (sold in KALDI or the Okinawa shop in Ginza), you can dilate it with water and make yourself a totally healthy summer juice.
Okinawa people have the longest life expectancy in Japan – could shikwasa be a part of their secret? If you go to Okinawa, be sure to head to the Shikwasa Museum on the main island – they have shikwasa juice coming freely from a tap!
Article courtesy : OMAKASE Tour https://omakase-tour.com/