The Best Foods and Ingredients in Japan During Each Season of the Year

Food Chronicles

Seasonal Foods of Japan

Japan is the perfect destination all year round because the deliciously fresh seasonal foods make up for the hot, humid summers and snowy, cold winters.

Spring Foods in Japan

Sakura – cherry blossoms
Ichigo – strawberries

Spring time in Japan is synonymous with cherry blossom season. Aside from viewing the gorgeous clusters of white and pink flowering trees, you can also enjoy the subtle sakura taste in lightly pink-colored savory and sweet bites.

If you love strawberries and sweets, spring time is the ideal time for you. Strawberry season spans from December to May. The longevity of the season fills the department store food halls with strawberry dessert specialties.

Sakura salt on the left. During the spring season in tempura bars, you may encounter this pink salt. Sakura salt has subtle sweet and floral notes complementing the lightness of the tempura fried spring vegetables
Sakura ice cream. Sweet preparations of sakura fills Japan during the short spring season. Starbucks even partakes in the popularity with pink sakura-infused drinks. The light pink is a signature look for sakura products
Strawberry shortcake. The best strawberry shortcakes are in Japan because of the intensely strawberry-flavored strawberries, milky-flavored cream, and light fluffy chiffon cake. The best shortcakes fill the layers with a generous amount of strawberries. Read about fruit picking in Japan here

 

Summer Foods in Japan

Unagi – eel
Uni – sea urchin
Edamame – soy beans
Tomato
Masukumeron – muskmelon
Momo – peach
Suika – watermelon
Yuzu – citrus
Gurepu – grape
Sakuranbo – cherries

Summer in Japan, especially June and July, can be painfully hot and humid. Summer sales inside the air-conditioned stores appease the sweltering heat, as well as peak season ingredients like sea urchin and amazing Japanese fruits like muskmelons.

Uni. Some say it is an acquired taste. I say it is one of the best foods of Japan. When it is at its freshest state, it is slightly sweet with the taste of the sea with a creamy, soft texture. A must try for adventurous food lovers – but it must be fresh otherwise it will taste like a salty, stale fish
Unagi. Total comfort food and worth the price when it is perfectly cooked. In Tokyo, the unagi is lightly broiled; whereas in Nagoya and Kansai, the eel is grilled for an added crunchy, roasted texture and taste

 

Autumn Foods in Japan

Sake – salmon
Sanma – Pacific saury/pike mackerel
Ikura – salmon roe
Tako – octopus
Satsumaimo – sweet potato
Matsutake mushrooms
Kabocha – squash
Kuri – chestnuts
Kaki – persimmon
Nashi – pear
Ichijiku – fig

Fall is the best time of the year in Japan as the summer heat begins to cool down and the chill of winter as yet to fill the air. It is also the season for more of your favorite seafood for sushi and autumn produce like sweet potatoes, chestnuts, and figs.

A bowl of ikura over rice. Ikura, salmon roe, has a sweet taste with a bursting texture that is best enjoyed as sushi with rice. At its freshest, the cold roe brightens your palate as the pearls burst in your mouth
Chestnuts are a highlight for the start of fall in Japan. You can enjoy it freshly roasted or in sweet treats, like cakes and waffles, filling the department store food halls. Here you can see it in their hairy shells, roasted, and peeled

 

Winter Foods in Japan

Hamachi – yellowtail
Amaebi – sweet shrimp
Tsuna – tuna
Kaki – oyster
Anko – monkfish
Daikon – radish
Kyabetsu – cabbage
Renkon – root of lotus plant
Mikan, known as satsumas
Ichigo – strawberry
Ringo – apple

Cold winters in Japan mean hot comfort foods. The seasonal root vegetables of the season simmer for hours for the popular dish, oden. It is also the time for winter fruits, like satsuma oranges and apples – perfect for apple desserts.

Amaebi, sweet shrimp. Even if the weather is cold, sushi and sashimi can be enjoyed all year round. The freshest and sweetest amaebi are best during the cold, winter months. First enjoy the sweet body of the shrimp, and then suck up the goodness of the shrimp head
Renkon, root of lotus plant. This root vegetable is often seen as a whole stick to cut into slices, or already sliced and simmered in oden or fried in tempura batter.
With an abundance of apples, comes amazing apple desserts. Tarte tatin is a French dessert perfected in Japan (as they often do with international cuisines)

 


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