Famous foods of Japan by prefecture
February 6, 2013 9:24 AM   Subscribe

So, I’ve been doing my research. Because there are so many prefectures and so many famous foods, I’m going to be breaking this article up into two parts. One for North, East, and Central prefectures of Japan, and one for West and South prefectures of Japan. At the end of the second part, we’ll also include a printout that has a map with numbers on all the prefectures corresponding to a list down below it. That way you can print this out, take it with you, and go on a rompy food excursion in Japan.
posted by infini (17 comments total) 43 users marked this as a favorite

 
I think Tenri Stamina Ramen should be added the list of famous Nara foods.

Also, if kaiseki ryori counts for Kyoto, then teppanyaki should probably be included for Hyogo, as I believe it was invented in Kobe.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 9:49 AM on February 6, 2013


I never heard anyone talk of a famous food of Shiga. I'm super-mad I missed out on those sweetfish. And duck hot-pot! (I will skip the fermented fish, thanks)
posted by curious nu at 10:03 AM on February 6, 2013


How I love that Japanese prefectures celebrate local foods. In China - each province and region has distinct cuisines that are celebrated and debated (with Hong Kong Cantonese being the best - of course).

How I wish there was such a map for American States. There is such a drive for homogenization of food culture in the US - it really takes much of the charm out of travelling within the lower 49. Nowadays - local chains such as Waffle House and Cracker Barrel sub in for local flavor (and badly too).

Also - I will be obsessing about finding Miyagi style cow tongue. Looks awesome!!!
posted by helmutdog at 10:06 AM on February 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Okonomiyaki, takoyaki, and kitsune udon--how did Osaka get the exclusive anime-food supplier contract? I should note that Ezaki Glico, maker of Pocky, is also headquartered in Osaka.
posted by darksasami at 10:08 AM on February 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


In the winter, I'd have miso udon several times a week right around the corner from my apartment. I miss that single thing from my years in Aichi more than anything else.
posted by komlord at 10:11 AM on February 6, 2013


I've been grappling with a relentless okonomiyaki craving since October, one that at best can be temporarily soothed by making them at home but what I really want/need is for someone to make one for me, Kansai style, on a propane fired griddle, while standing under an umbrella in the rain. When I was a kid spending summers in Japan, there was a pushcart okonomiyaki vendor that visited my grandmother's house once a week. He would make them right there in the alleyway outside her garden gate. If we ever have the technology to go back in time, I'm hunting down that guy for pancakes.
posted by jamaro at 10:35 AM on February 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


> There is such a drive for homogenization of food culture in the US

Unless you're talking about BBQ, of course, in which case you best gird your loins (and stomach) for some delicious regional rivalry.
posted by Panjandrum at 11:37 AM on February 6, 2013


Also - I will be obsessing about finding Miyagi style cow tongue. Looks awesome!!!

It is. =)
posted by yeolcoatl at 12:14 PM on February 6, 2013


One thing I love about Japan is the intense localisation of things, especially crafts and foodstufs that goes on. Every region really does have a speciality, and it really is different. Coming from Australia which is a) gigantic, and b) relatively homogenous, especially when it comes to foodstuffs, we just thought it was delightful.

I wonder if Japanese people perceive that kind of thing as parochial, conservative, or stuffy? (which is how I would probably think about it if Australians took it to that level of differentation).
posted by smoke at 1:22 PM on February 6, 2013


> How I wish there was such a map for American States. There is such a drive for homogenization of food culture in the US

Unless you're talking about BBQ, of course, in which case you best gird your loins (and stomach) for some delicious regional rivalry.


Every week on r/seattle someone from somewhere else wants to find some authentic: Mission style burritos, Chicago style pizza, NY style pizza, Catfish, Soul food, Cajun, Texas BBQ, Chowder, and so on. The answer is always "It's not the same, but I go to X restaurant when I'm homesick."

Off the top of my head I can name:
Louisiana Low Country food, Cajun, Acadian, Hawaiian, Cal-Mex (But of course SF mex is still different than S. Diego or LA mex), Tex-mex (& mex-tex?), Louisiana Creole, Plains food, New Englander food, I assume Jewish food in NY, Soul Food (I'm sure this can be further categorized).

There's also a rainbow of various ethnicities who have adapted to what they could find in the US, including American Chinese which came up with Chop Suey and General Tso's.

And then there's the regional specialties and distinguishing signature dishes such as the different styles of dog, or pizzas, or chowders. Here in Seattle for example we have the Seattle Dog and Seattle Roll, both of which are delicious but for some unknown reason are distinguished by having cream cheese. We do not have a pizza identity, but we do have a West Coast Chowder.

And then there's the regional feel. I mention this specifically because here in the Pacific Northwest we have a regional feel to the food, and traditions and ingredients we're comfortable with, but don't really have a codified regional cuisine. Smoked Salmon is basically our signature dish, but it's not something people go out and eat all the time. Lack of pretense and environmental consciousness is apparently big in our haute cousine, but I can't afford that shit.

If you don't have a good feel for regional specialties in the US, that's on you.
posted by tychotesla at 1:23 PM on February 6, 2013 [6 favorites]


Excellent find!
posted by zardoz at 1:49 PM on February 6, 2013


Louisiana Low Country food, Cajun, Acadian, Hawaiian, Cal-Mex (But of course SF mex is still different than S. Diego or LA mex), Tex-mex (& mex-tex?), Louisiana Creole, Plains food, New Englander food, I assume Jewish food in NY, Soul Food (I'm sure this can be further categorized).

Those are all awesome examples - but I guess what I also see is lot of chains then taking these regional foods, diluting them, and then rolling them out across the nation. In the meantime - local vendors tend to get squashed by the competition. I was in North Carolina and it was hard finding any BBQ that did not come from chains, but then again my friends are not real food people, so their choices may not have been great (and they live new Charlotteville which, apparently, is not good BBQ country)

But its true that when I am in LA, The first thing I eat is that particular SoCal brand of Jewish Deli food and I love that it is really not available elsewhere.

If you don't have a good feel for regional specialties in the US, that's on you.

I guess what I was trying to say I wish that we as a North America culture really celebrated regional diffreneces in food the way they do in Asia. Not trying to be argumentative - just trying to broaden my horizons. Driving through central Florida - it was hard to decern any local specialities - though I gotta say - I loved the Publix market.
posted by helmutdog at 2:06 PM on February 6, 2013


Louisiana Low Country food, Cajun, Acadian, Hawaiian, Cal-Mex (But of course SF mex is still different than S. Diego or LA mex), Tex-mex (& mex-tex?), Louisiana Creole, Plains food, New Englander food, I assume Jewish food in NY, Soul Food (I'm sure this can be further categorized).

Don't forget NYC's Chinese Mexican food!
posted by jessssse at 2:14 PM on February 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


I wonder if Japanese people perceive that kind of thing as parochial, conservative, or stuffy?

Local foods and specialties have always been around, but I think recently, say like in the past decade or so, there's been a resurgence of this kind of intense localization and love for one's home prefecture. I'm now going to make a sweeping generalization here without any links to support my observation, but I think from after the end of WWII through to the early '90s when Japan was trying to catch up to the West economically and then for a while when Japan was actually rich, people focused on Tokyo (maybe Osaka, too, but mostly Tokyo) and being more like the Big Economic Capital of Japan and getting money from the national government to be like a miniature Tokyo was more important for most local governments. After the economic bubble popped, though, local governments and companies had to start thinking harder about how to survive without the money that used to come their way, and so they began actively pushing their traditional specialties and creating new ones to differentiate themselves from their neighbors, to create jobs and garner more tourist money. Local governments now push their own yuru-kyara (goofy characters?) like Kumamon of Kumamoto and Hikonyan of Hikone, and B-kyu gurume (literally, "B-grade gourmet," cheap everyday food). Now there are TV programs focusing on discussing the differences between prefectures, like food, dialects, local traditions, and even stereotypical tendencies of people who were born and grew up there.

I'm kind of an outlier in every respect because I was born in Tokyo, grew up in the States and have never lived anywhere else when in Japan, but I get the feeling that now, compared to when I used to go to uni in the early '90s, people aren't embarrassed to talk about where they're from, whereas before, unless you were from the Kansai area, you sort of glossed over the fact that you were from "the sticks," wherever that might be. I think it's a good thing, and sort of wish I too had an inaka (hometown) to be proud about. Being from Tokyo is so bland!
posted by misozaki at 4:43 PM on February 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


What, no natto for Ibaraki? This post made me very hungry. Thank you, infini.
posted by Dodecadermaldenticles at 4:48 PM on February 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Every place I went in Japan, they all said they were famous for their sake and natto. Then maybe a few other specialties, but most definitely they produced the best sake and natto in the country.
posted by charlie don't surf at 5:49 PM on February 6, 2013


It's true that every region has their special dishes, but you can usually find an acceptable version of any of them at some izakaya in Tokyo. But there are two dishes for which I haven't found comparable versions in Tokyo - tonkotsu (stewed pork from Kagoshima) and houtou (noodles in thick vegetable broth from Yamanashi).

(Also, the article's Tokyo picks are kind of random - if I had to pick three for Tokyo, I'd say nigiri-sushi and unagi (eel) as well as monja.)
posted by Umami Dearest at 9:06 AM on February 7, 2013


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