Which Of Japan’s Prefectures Are Proudest Of Their Food?

Which Of Japan’s Prefectures Are Proudest Of Their Food?

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Japan prefectural food pride
Picture: flyingv / PIXTA(ピクスタ)
A new survey reveals which prefectures in Japan take the most pride in their local cuisine. Find out which one landed the top spot - and discover the unique dishes that make each prefecture proud.

A recent survey conducted by Sony Life interviewed a total of 4700 people across Japan. The survey included a mix of male and female respondents aged 20 to 59. Respondents were asked which prefecture’s food they found most delicious. Another question was whether they were proud of their home prefecture’s signature food.

The survey also included questions about the most delicious food from each prefecture. In general, most people surveyed were proud of their home prefecture’s culinary offerings. The most popular food items from each prefecture included a mix of meat, fruits, rice, sweets, and noodle dishes such as ramen.

Ten prefectures had a “deliciousness ranking” of 49 or higher. In fourth through tenth place: Miyazaki Prefecture (58), Toyama Prefecture (56), Fukuoka Prefecture (56), Oita Prefecture (54), Ishikawa Prefecture (50), Kumamoto Prefecture (49), and Kagoshima Prefecture (49). But the top three – including the rather unexpected winner – all scored 60 or higher in the survey.

Kochi’s Signature Seafood Scored #3

Katsuo no tataki, signature dish of Kochi Prefecture
Picture: セーラム / PIXTA(ピクスタ)

In third place is Kochi Prefecture on the island of Shikoku. Its ranking was 60, just below Hokkaido. Kochi is known for seafood. Its signature dish is katsuo no tataki. Cooks make this seared fish dish with bonito (katsuo) or skipjack tuna. The meat is cooked only briefly over an extremely hot flame. Preparers marinate it in vinegar or season it with ginger paste. Some restaurants serve tataki with soy sauce or other garnishes similar to sashimi.

Kochi folklore claims that legendary samurai Sakamoto Ryoma developed the tataki method after observing Western-style grilling methods in Nagasaki.

Hokkaido’s Unique Cuisine Earns The #2 Spot

Jingisukan, signature dish of Hokkaido
Picture: ささざわ / PIXTA(ピクスタ)

In second place, with a “deliciousness ranking” of 61 is Hokkaido, Japan’s largest prefecture. This northern island is known for its fresh seafood, local dairy, and dishes inspired by both its native Ainu residents and its frequent trade and communication with Russia.

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The dish most favored by respondents was jingisukan, a grilled mutton or lamb dish. Jingisukan is typically served alongside white rice, vegetables such as cabbage, bean sprouts, onions, and mushrooms, and soy sauce or sake-based sauce. The name comes from Mongol leader Genghis Khan, although the dish was given its name in the 1930s, several centuries after Khan’s lifetime. Many jingisukan restaurants in Hokkaido allow patrons to cook their own meat and vegetables on small tabletop grills.

Other Hokkaido-based dishes listed as delicious included sea urchin, crab, grilled salmon, and butadon (pork bowls.)

Many respondents mentioned zangi, the prefecture’s take on fried chicken. Zangi is a mix of wings and thighs, lightly battered and seasoned. The batter typically includes potato starch; added flavorings can include salt, pepper, ginger and mirin. Restaurants generally serve zangi alongside sweet and spicy sauces for dipping. It originated in the town of Kushiro, but is now found across Hokkaido in locations including izakaya and convenience stores.

Hokkaido’s desserts were also popular. Due to being a major source of Japan’s dairy products, it is known for its ice cream, white chocolate, and cheese-flavored sweets. (And, of course, its chocolate mint sandwiches…)

A Surprising #1: Niigata Prefecture

Tarekatsu, the signature dish of Niigata Prefecture
Picture: Mugimaki / PIXTA(ピクスタ)

Much to the surprise of Sony Life, Niigata Prefecture scored a commanding first place. Niigata’s food had a “deliciousness ranking” of 68.

The food residents were most proud of was “tarekatsu,” a type of pork cutlet. To make tarekatsu, cooks soak thinly sliced pork cutlets in a sweet and savory soy sauce. This gives the tarekatsu a distinct flavor compared to standard tonkatsu, which uses a thicker sauce that includes tomato and mirin flavors.

Notably, tarekatsudon – a pork cutlet bowl featuring tarekatsu – is served with only meat and rice to highlight the cutlet’s flavor.

Niigata boasts a large amount of local specialties in addition to tarekatsu. Noppe is a warm winter stew similar to oden but with a broth thickened by starch or taro. Hegi soba noodles have a unique texture due to the addition of locally harvested funori seaweed.

The prefecture’s preferred take on tempura, suruten, uses pre-salted squid rather than freshly caught.

And for dessert, there’s sasa dango, a yomogi (mugwort) flavored dumpling known for its distinct green color. Sasa dango is typically filled with sweet red bean paste and wrapped in bamboo leaves. (The bamboo leaves aren’t edible, though – you need to unwrap your dango before enjoying it!)

Sasa dango, one of the signatrue dishes of Niigata Prefecture
Picture: noyun / PIXTA(ピクスタ)

Each Prefecture’s Signature Dish

  • Hokkaido: Jingisukan
  • Aomori: Apples
  • Iwate: Morioka Reimen (chilled noodles with kimchi)
  • Miyagi: Beef tongue
  • Akita: Kiritanpo (mashed rice cylinders)
  • Yamagata: Imoni (hearty taro and meat soup)
  • Fukushima: Kitakata ramen (soy sauce ramen with thick noodles)
  • Ibaraki:  Natto (fermented soybeans)
  • Tochigi: Gyoza (potsticker dumplings)
  • Gunma: Yakimanju (grilled wheat dough with sweet sauce)
  • Saitama: Senbei (crunchy rice crackers)
  • Chiba: Peanuts
  • Tokyo: Monjayaki (okonomiyaki variant)
  • Kanagawa: Shumai (steamed dumplings, usually filled with seafood)
  • Niigata: Tarekatsu (pork cutlet cooked with soy sauce)
  • Toyama: Masuzushi (pressed trout or salmon sushi)
  • Ishikawa: Nodoguro (blackthroat sea perch, a type of whitefish)
  • Fukui: Katsudon (pork cutlet bowl) with sauce
  • Yamanashi: Hoto (noodle soup with miso and vegetables)
  • Nagano: Soba noodles
  • Gifu: Kei-chan chicken (chicken and vegetables in “special sauce”)
  • Shizuoka: Eel
  • Aichi: Hitsumabushi (grilled eel over rice)
  • Mie: Matsusaka wagyu beef
  • Shiga: Omi wagyu beef
  • Kyoto: Yatsuhashi (baked rice flour with sugar and cinnamon)
  • Osaka: Takoyaki (fried octopus balls)
  • Hyogo: Akashiyaki (octopus balls with egg batter dipped in fish stock)
  • Nara: Kakinohazushi (pressed sushi wrapped in persimmon leaves)
  • Wakayama: Wakayama ramen (ramen with Chinese noodles, soy sauce or tonkotsu soup, and runny egg)
  • Tottori: Crab
  • Shimane: Izumo soba (noodles made from whole buckwheat grains)
  • Okayama: Entrail udon
  • Hiroshima: Okonomiyaki
  • Yamaguchi: Kawara soba (green tea soba served on a roof tile)
  • Tokushima: Tokushima ramen (ramen in brown broth with spring onion and bean sprouts)
  • Kagawa: Udon
  • Ehime: Taimeshi (rice with sea bream)
  • Kochi: Katsuo no tataki
  • Fukuoka: Tonkotsu (pork bone broth) ramen
  • Saga: Sicilian rice (rice, grilled meat, salad, and mayonnaise)
  • Nagasaki: Champon (noodle soup with bone broth, lard, scrambled egg, and thin-sliced meat)
  • Kumamoto: Basashi (raw horse meat)
  • Oita: Chicken tempura
  • Miyazaki: Chicken nanban (fried chicken with vinegar dressing and tartar sauce)
  • Kagoshima: Kurobuta (Berkshire pork)
  • Okinawa: Okinawan soba (thick noodles with seaweed, pork, and sometimes pig’s trotters)

Sources

[1] https://news.allabout.co.jp/articles/o/74879/

[2] https://web.archive.org/web/20071019040726/http://www5.hokkaido-np.co.jp/sapporokenbu/oh-sapporo/jingisukan/03.html

[3] https://www.tarekatsu.jp/

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Kay Benton

Kay is a longtime Japan enthusiast and former participant in the JET Program. Their favorite thing to do when traveling in Japan is visiting as many onsens as possible.

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