Best summer food in Japan

With the summer just around the corner, many people in Japan are looking for refreshing ways to quench their thirst. Fresh and cold drinks, thousands of sweets to choose from and delicious snacks prepared right on the spot will definitely put a smile on your face. If you are traveling to Japan this summer you should not only enjoy the festivities and touristic hotspots but also make sure to try all the mouth-watering dishes and snacks. No matter if you like sweet, salty or bitter Japan has something to offer for any taste buds.

1. Ice candies

Japan is a paradise for those who have a sweet tooth, with little convenience and specialty candy stores it is hard to pass by the candy that not only tastes amazing but comes in different shapes and colors which makes you want to get them even more.

Garigari-kun – one of the cheapest and most sold sweets in Japan. This popsicle costs only 70 yen and is sold in almost any convenience store. Garigari comes in different flavors such as – vanilla, banana, cream and even in strange combinations as cream corn soup and potage.

Suika Bar – also known as the watermelon bar is a popsicle that looks like a slice of watermelon. This candy is loved by children and young adults and it costs only 108 yen.

Shirokuma – sweetest snack of them all. Shirokuma is a condensed milk ice cream that is filled with red bean and summer fruit filling.

2. Hiyashi Chucka

When the summer season rolls in the hot and steamy ramen is replaced by the cold noodle ramen Hiyashi Chuka. Hiyashi Chuka is served with cold noodles stacked with fresh vegetables, omelet and ham or seafood. Noodles also come with two sauces – sesame or soy. For those who have dietary restrictions or who practice veganism or vegetarianism, there are meatless options available as the staff is always happy to modify your order to your liking.

Head to Yosuko Saikan in Tokyo for a high-end experience, Sengrian in Kitazawa station for a hefty portion or Ban nai in Tokyo for reasonable prices. If you feel confident enough you can also try making Hiyashi Chuka at home, many grocery and convenience stores offer pre-packaged noodles as well as already cut up vegetables and other necessary ingredients. For those who don’t want to cook, you can simply buy ready to eat Hiyashi Chuka at any convenience store.

3. Summer drinks

Ramune – one of the most popular soft drinks in Japan. Ramune comes in many different flavors like lemon, banana cherry, bubble gum, blueberry, apple, melon, mango, and even curry, wasabi, and kimchi.

Chilled beer – Japanese love their beer no matter the season, but when the summer season starts this beverage is especially refreshing. Get a pint of beer in a vending machine or head to a beer garden and try out local brands as well as imported beers.

Mugicha – one of the healthiest drink options during this summer, this cold tea drink has no caffeine and even improves blood circulation, prevents cavities and it is easy on your stomach especially if you have spent the whole trip “eating through Japan”.

Garden Tea – served hot and cold, you can purchase it at a vending machine or order it in a cafe. It usually served with a teapot, tea leaves, and ice.

4. Shaved Ice

Possibly one of the world’s oldest desserts, Kakigori or also known as shaved ice dates back to the Heian Period (794 to 1185) when the dessert was served to the aristocratic families. This tasty yet very simple dessert only requires a block of ice, ice shaving machine, and sweet topping which is either syrup or condensed milk. This summer make sure you try:

Gokujo Ichigo – made with naturally frozen water from the Nikko region, it is topped with seasonal and organic fruit syrup. To try this dessert visit – Darumaya sweets shop in Tokyo.

Organic Carrot Mascarpone – this dessert is so popular that you might need to stand in a long line. Made with natural spring water ice and only natural and organic fruits and toppings. To try this dessert visit – Yelo shop in Tokyo.

Kouri Suika – made with shaved ice and seasonal fruit syrup served with cut-up fruits. To try this dessert visit – Fruits Parlor Gotoh in Tokyo.

5. Mizu Yokan

Mizu Yokan is a traditional Japanese dessert that first came around in 1911. Mizu Yokan is made from azuki beans, agar, and sugar. Originally it was made from gelatin, wheat flour, and azuki beans, later on in 1658 after the discovery of agar, it was added to the desert. During the Edo period, sugar became more available allowing for Mizu Yokan to be stored for a longer time. Mizu Yokan is only a type of Yokan dessert, it contains more water and usually is served during hot summer months.

Mizu Yokan is usually made into a block that is normally cut up and served chilled and topped with crushed up nuts or figs. The dessert comes in many colors and flavors since 1911 Japanese have become very creative when it comes to shapes, sizes, and flavors of Mizu Yokan.

6. Hiyayakko

Hiyayakko – Hiya means cold and Yakko is a reference to Edo Period samurais. This dish is made with chilled tofu and topped with – perilla leaf, yuzu rind, radish, ginger, okra, plum paste and mustard, these toppings are either combined or chosen separately. Japan is famous for the freshest tofu available, you can get it at any market or restaurant. If you are visiting Japan for the first time we recommend getting this dish at a restaurant and ordering a cold beer to it, this way you’ll get a real Japanese taste. Some restaurants top the tofu with dry bonito flakes, soy sauce, and green onions, and not to worry there are also vegetarian options. When ordering Hiyayakko at a restaurant you will see that it sometimes comes with a separate tofu plate and a plate with toppings only in order for you to be able to create the dish however you like.